Is Honey Fattening or is it Healthy?

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If someone is scaring you about the “high calories” present in honey, just ignore them. Honey is a health food, and has been revered by traditional branches of medicine like Ayurveda and Siddha.

It’s a sacrilege to compare honey to refined sugar. Yes, they are both sweet but that’s where the similarity ends.

Honey is not fattening, simply because it’s a natural, whole food while sugar is a processed, nutrition-less, carbohydrate source.

Why is honey not fattening though it’s so sweet?

If you look at the calorie count, one tablespoon of honey contains up to 22 calories while one table spoon of sugar contains 16 calories.

So shouldn’t honey be more fattening than processed sugar?

No, because the fattening property of a food hardly ever depends totally on the calorie count. The most important factor is whether we are talking about a “whole” food or a “processed” or refined food.

Honey in its natural state is composed of carbohydrate in the form of fructose, glucose, some amount of sucrose, maltose and other sources. But these carbohydrates are present in conjunction with vitamins (niacin, riboflavin), amino acids and minerals such as zinc, manganese, copper, calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorous.

This is why honey is a whole food, while refined sugar is “pure” carbohydrate (glucose) in the absence of minerals or vitamins.

Due to the nutritional content of honey and it’s carbohydrate composition, it takes more time to digest honey in the stomach. The sugars in the honey are released at a much slower rate into the blood stream as compared to “refined” sugar.

Studies have been conducted that have indicated that honey is not fattening at all. There have been samples studies where people consuming 5-10 tablespoons of honey for a month, did not observe any weight gain but were healthier with lower cholesterol levels and higher blood antioxidant content.

The simple reason why honey is not fattening is because it’s a whole food, just like fruits. A fruit is high in carbohydrate but does not make you fat simply because it’s a whole food packed with vitamins and minerals along with carbs. Calorie counting should be restricted to “processed” or refined foods and should not be used for judging a “whole” food.

The wholesome health benefits of honey

In ancient India, honey was used in several food preparations; it was considered to be medicinal in nature.

Modern day studies have confirmed that honey has a rich antioxidant properties that help curb diseases like cancer. Eating honey is also known to help in reducing blood cholesterol level by decreasing the LDL count.

The presence of a wide array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in honey makes for a rich nutrition supplement which can be a part of everyday diet. Honey has anti bacterial properties and can help relieve throat congestions and digestive problems, as advocated by Ayurveda.

Honey can actually help you lose weight

In conclusion, it’s fair to say that honey makes for a healthier option as a “sweetner” instead of the refined sugars used in most households.

There are many people who have observed weight loss when they started consuming a tablespoon of honey mixed with a spoon of cinnamon powder and warm water on an empty stomach on daily basis.

So honey is not fattening but can actually induce slimming. It’s a tasty option worth trying out if you have not done so already.

Buying Pure Honey

It is important that the honey that you consume is pure and is not overly processed.

There are some simple tests you can do at home to determine if the honey is pure, but these tests cannot be 100% relied upon. For instant, one fairly common test is to pour a teaspoon of honey in a glass of plain water. If the honey is pure it will get deposited at the bottom of the glass and will not readily mix with the water.

But as said before, this test cannot be fully relied upon.

This is why, the best way to buy honey is from a bee farm or from your local farmer’s market. If you are buying a commercial product off the shelves, make sure to do your research to see what others are saying about the brand.


  • Rob

    Also you should read the label and make sure its raw honey not cooked, because I have heard that cooking it down could take some of its nutrients out.

  • MS P

    Well just as they would say with some fruits to a diabetic in regards to honey consumption: just watch your intake of honey because I was taking honey three times a day just for the health benefits, about two tablespoons each time, and I noticed I had gained weight so now i will limit my intake of the honey, just as a diabetic has to limit their intake with some fruits due to the natural sugar content.

  • Robert

    So maple syrup isn’t fattening in the same sense that honey is not?

    • Tim(author)

      Robert, it’s true that pure maple syrup (made purely from maple sap – 100% maple sap) is a wholesome food and would fall into the non-fattening category compared to consuming white sugar. Maple syrup does not have the capacity to reduce the LDL count the way honey does, but it’s rich in anti-oxidants and minerals like calcium, potassium, manganese and zinc. Remember that we are talking about 100% pure maple syrup, not the various artificial imitations or the ones which contain sweeteners.

  • Mary

    I love honey and it’s great to know that it can actually help you lose weight!

  • Artidevi Jagnarain

    Thank you very much for making the facts clear about the effect of coffee on the blood sugar level and as a consequence the food craving which I’m experiencing daily. And also for sharing the benefits of honey and the induced slimming. Success with your future articles and keep up this good work!

  • LaRonda

    I am looking at a jar of honey and the label reads, 60 calories per tablespoon. There are 22 servings in the jar. Could that be where you got the 22?

  • Chris

    Thanks for this info. But I think the important factor is to identify if the honey is fake or real. Fake honey is definitely fattening cause it’s generally sugar syrup. Here’s how you can differentiate fake honey from real honey.

    Drop half a spoon of honey in a glass of clear drinking water. If the honey is real, it will sink to the bottom of the glass without dissolving. In other words, the water will still remain clear. If the honey is fake, it will start dissolving changing the color of the water. Just a tip I thought will be helpful to others.

    • ReRe

      He put that in the article.