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Honey is the delicious, all natural sweetener that homesteaders can’t resist. But what’s the difference between honey and, say, sugar from the store? Is honey really healthier than regular sugar? Learn about the nutritional value of honey–both the good and the bad.

The bad news

It’s easier to start with the bad news, isn’t it?

The downside to honey is that, yes, it’s packed full of sugar and calories. It’s a sweetener, after all! One cup of honey can contain over 1,000 calories; that gives you about 65 calories per tablespoon. Since honey is a sweetener, it does increase blood sugar levels, albeit not as much as standard sugar.

The other downside is that not all honey is created equally. The honey on sale at your grocery store probably isn’t as good as honey harvested from your own bees, for example. The quality of the honey will determine how healthy or unhealthy it is for your body.

The good news

Never fear: we have lots of good news about honey!

Honey is naturally high in fructose, which means it tastes sweeter than sugar from the store. That’s great news, because it means you can use less honey to get the same desired level of sweetness.

Quality honey is healthier than other sweeteners because it contains plant compounds and antioxidants. If you’re looking for antioxidant-packed honey, you can usually tell by color. Go for darker honey to get more nutrition.

The antioxidants in honey may play a role in cancer prevention and even eye health. Honey also raises HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy alternative to other sweeteners.

But you don’t have to eat honey to see its benefits. You can even use honey to treat cuts and lesions; many studies found topically-applied honey speeds up the healing process.

The bottom line

Honey is an amazing addition to your homestead. Although it should be considered a treat since it’s still a sweetening agent, swapping sugar with honey can improve your health. Consider switching to honey for a more nutritious, natural alternative.

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