Brown sugar vs Honey - Health, Nutrition and Baking Comparison
Brown sugar contains higher amounts of carbohydrates, sugars, and calcium. On the other hand, honey is richer in vitamin C and manganese relatively. Honey has a lower glycemic index and calorie count. Both brown sugar and honey have negligible amounts of fats and proteins.
Table of contents
Brown sugar can be natural brown or dyed brown. The natural brown sugar came from crystallized sugarcane juices and turned into sugars with minor refining methods. Dyed brown sugar, usually marketed as "brown sugar," is white refined sugar with added sugarcane molasses or beetroot molasses. If it's specified as "natural brown sugar." It means it's one that directly comes from processing sugar cane juice without adding additional molasses. Sugar is a vegetable byproduct.
Honey, on the other hand, is harvested from beehives. They are animal byproducts. This information is necessary for people who follow vegan diets. Honey comes from the processing of bees of flower nectars and is collected in beehives. Honey has an interesting property as it doesn't spoil; microorganisms cannot grow on honey.
Based on archeological remains, it is believed that they used to collect honey in Spain around 6000 BC.
This article will discuss the nutritional content, vitamin content, mineral content, health impacts, and variations and usage of both brown sugar and honey.
Nutritional content comparison
The nutritional content compared between both brown sugar and honey is considered per 100g. In this section, the glycemic index, calories, carbohydrates, sugar, protein, and fat contents of both are compared.
Brown sugar has a glycemic index of 65, which is considered a medium glycemic index food. On the other hand, honey has a glycemic index of 55, which is considered a low glycemic index food.
Honey has a lower glycemic index compared to brown sugar.
Brown sugar contains 380 calories, whereas honey contains 304 calories (per 100g). Although both values are close, honey contains fewer calories compared to brown sugar.
Carbohydrates / Sugars
Both brown sugar and honey are mostly carbohydrates; as a matter of fact, 100g of brown sugar contains 98.1g of carbohydrates, of which 97g are sugars. On the other hand, honey is made of 82.4g of carbohydrates, of which 84.1g are sugars.
Both are high in carbohydrates, given that they are mostly sugars; however, brown sugar is higher in both carbohydrates and sugar.
The protein content of both brown sugar and honey is negligible.
The fat content of both brown sugar and honey is negligible.
Vitamin content comparison
Brown sugar is mainly deprived of vitamins, although we can measure trace amounts of the vitamin B complex. However, this amount is close to negligible.
Honey, on the other hand, has 0.5mg of vitamin C per 100g. Relative to the quantity consumed, this amount of vitamin C is not very remarkable but also not negligible.
Mineral content comparison
Brown sugar contains 83mg of calcium, and the daily requirement for calcium is 1000mg. Brown sugar also contains some amounts of manganese, iron, and potassium.
Honey contains more manganese compared to brown sugar. However, both these amounts are not remarkable. Honey has negligible amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, and other minerals included.
Brown sugar is composed of pure carbohydrates, mainly sugars, which are the main factor in increasing blood sugar levels. Therefore, during diabetes, it is best to avoid it.
Honey in moderate amounts has proven to provide glycemic control and protection against diabetes complications on the body organs in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. (1)
A study showed that mixing low amounts of honey with metformin, the most prescribed drug for diabetes, has enhanced its effects. (2)
These are due to active compounds present in honey; however, the amount of sugar causes an increase in blood sugar levels. This is why lower amounts of honey are recommended so that the sugar levels do not exceed red mark levels.
A high sugar intake, including brown sugar, leads to hypertension and metabolic syndrome, which is a risk factor for atherosclerosis (3). In contrast, non-sugar components of honey may reduce atherosclerosis risk factors (4).
Consuming honey in small to moderate amounts reduces the risk of developing hypertension when compared to brown sugar consumption (5).
In addition, according to this study, polyphenols in honey reduce the risk of coronary heart disease through three major mechanisms: improving coronary vasodilation, decreasing platelet clotting ability, and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood (6). These effects are unknown for brown sugar.
Consumption of high sugars, including brown sugar, increases the risk of obesity. The increase in the risk is mainly due to developing leptin resistance, which is resistance to the hunger hormone. Thus making the individual more hungry and feel full less often (7).
Honey is proven to reduce obesity and fat deposition risks when used as an alternative to sugars. (8)
Brown sugar has proven to develop a specific dependency on humans. This was observed on the neurologic levels. Call this behavior addiction has yet to be labeled in the field of science. However, data aggregates and leans over the definition of addiction when it comes to sugar. (9)
Addiction can be debated when it comes to honey, mainly due to its sugar content. However, honey is not as frequently used in the culinary world as much as sugars are.
Variations and usage
Brown sugar varies in taste compared to white sugar by simply having a boost in flavor due to the molasses that it contains.
Both good and bad honey exists in the markets; however, both are honey, but a difference exists. This difference comes from the initial source, which is beekeeping. During winter times, flowers are not available for bees to feed on. To keep bees alive, the beekeeper feeds the bees sugar dissolved in water. During spring and summertime, bees carry on normal honey-making and use flower nectar honey-making, filled with various flavors. The honey produced from sugar dissolved in water will be sold for cheaper in markets and labeled as "bad honey." This is the main difference between them. It is recommended to consume the spring product honey as it is the healthiest and filled with aromas and flavors.
Brown sugar for baking
Brown sugar has an essential feature when used in baking. It contains molasses, which is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs water compared to classical baking ingredients like white sugar. This additional property of brown sugar, which is best used for cookies, makes them chewier and less dry.
Honey for baking
We can use honey for baking as it contains enzymes that affect flavors. However, We must lower the baking temperature because, at high temperatures, honey gives a bitter taste. Fruity and spicy flavors will be more exposed as they will be aromatized and extracted.
For baking, brown sugar and honey have advantages in the different baking methods we can use. Brown sugar would be suitable for preparing cookies as it would make them chewier and less dry, in comparison to honey, which would be suitable for making cakes and pies. It would give more aroma and flavor to the cake and pie.
Carbohydrate type comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Lower in Saturated Fat||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet||Equal|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|