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Volume III
January 20, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Honey or Sugar?

By Alice Osborne

Unless you have been living under a rock the past 5 years, you have no doubt heard that sugar is not good for you. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity are the children born of sugar. Well, not sugar specifically, but the calories that come with it. "It's really the extra calories from sugar in our diet that causes health problems like diabetes and obesity, not anything inherently unhealthy about sugar itself," says Jule Anne Henstenberg, RD, director of the Nutrition Program at La Salle University in Philadelphia.

Oh, and do we love our sugar calories! Americans have a sweet, tooth: 156 pounds or 31-5pound bags of sugar consumption per-person, per year, kind of sweet-tooth. While we wouldn't dream of opening up one of those 5 pound bags, grabbing a spoon, and begin to eat the contents, we ingest sugar calories in various forms of "hidden" sugar.

According to the World Health Organization, high-fructose corn syrup has been steadily added to our foods at the rate of 3.5% per year, for the past 10 years. Open up almost any can, put ketchup on your burger, eat most yogurts, or prepare pre-packaged foods, and you consume more "hidden" sugar calories than you may imagine. Soda? One can of soda equals about 10 teaspoons of sugar.

If you would like to reduce your intake of refined sugar, using honey could be a good alternative. According to "Compared with sugar, honey has more calories per teaspoon, approximately 21 calories compared to 15 per teaspoon for sugar. Honey is sweeter, however, so you can use less to achieve the same sweetness. The thick, smooth liquid is more versatile than plain sugar. Whether spread on toast, drizzled on fruit or added to a steaming cup of tea, honey adds texture, taste and vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6 and C. Honey also contains minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc and copper; the exact contents vary based on the type of honey".

If you are looking to purchase the healthiest honey available, the consensus is raw honey that has not been processed, pasteurized or heated is the best. "Cooking" honey breaks down the sugars which give it a higher glycemic index when it is eaten. In other words, skip the little plastic bear full of honey that you see in your grocery stores. Health food markets carry good products. Also, look up bee keepers in your area. Bee-keeping is fascinating to watch and learn about, and there is nothing better than honey straight from the hive!

Different Types of Honey From:

•  Comb Honey: This is honey that is still packed in the bee honeycomb which is totally edible and totally delicious.

•  Chunk Honey: This is found in jars of honey where chunks of honeycomb have been added before being sealed and sold. This is a beekeepers dream come true if eaten straight from the hive!

•  Crystallized Honey: This honey has can range from just a hard top layer, to being in the whole of the jar. There is nothing wrong with this and if you place the jar in some hot water it will easily return to a runny state.

•  Liquid Honey: This is what most of us expect to find when choosing our kind of honey and appears to be the type most of us buy. Certainly it is this form of honey that is more readily available. The higher the fructose content and the lower the glucose define this type of honey. Acacia is a good example.

•  Creamed or Whipped Honey: This honey has been whipped on purpose to provide a substance that spreads easily like butter. It really means it is finely crystallized throughout. This can be achieved by adding a little crystallized honey to a runnier type and beating them together.

•  Monofloral otherwise known as "Single Variety" or "Artisanal" is quite unique, it must contain more than half of one type of nectar to be given this name. Tupelo is a prime example.

•  Multi-floral is usually referred to as "Wildflower Honey", this simply means there are a variety of nectar sources collected by honey bees making up this superb raw honey.

•  Flavoured Honey: Depending on the source of nectar collected to make honey the taste will vary considerably. You could even flavour your own with fresh ingredients.

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