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Stevia vs. Honey — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on November 02, 2022
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel
Stevia
vs
Honey

Summary

In short, stevia is a natural sweetener that provides 0 calories and carbohydrates as it is not absorbed into the bloodstream. Thus, honey is naturally higher in calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Honey has a moderate glycemic and insulin index value, while these values for stevia are 0.

Honey and stevia have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health; however, processed, purified stevia can lead have an adverse impact.

Introduction

Choosing a healthy sweetener has become one of the most talked about topics in nutrition today. In this article, we will compare stevia and honey, two sweeteners often referred to as healthy alternatives to sugar, and see their differences in nutrition and health impact.

Classification

Both stevia and honey are classified as natural sweeteners: stevia is made from leaves of the plant called Stevia rebaudiana, belonging to the sunflower family, and honey is made by foraging bees.

Processed purified forms of stevia are at times considered to be artificial sweeteners, such as the steviol glycoside additive E960.

Taste and Use

Stevia is used as a sweetener in the production of soft drinks, such as sodas, canned fruit, jams, dairy products, such as ice cream, and desserts. Stevia is also used as a substitute for white sugar.

Honey has similar uses but is less commonly used in the production of soft drinks and confectionaries.

Honey is 25% sweeter than sucrose, while stevia, depending on the production method, can be 300 times sweeter than sucrose.

Nutrition

The infographics below show information about 100g serving sizes of herbal extract powder from Stevia leaf and raw honey.

However, these sweeteners are usually used in smaller serving sizes. One average serving size of stevia can be considered 1 package, weighing 1g, while one 0.5oz packet of honey is 14g. One tablespoon of honey equals 21g.

Macronutrients and Calories

Stevia consists of 100% carbs, while honey consists of 82% carbohydrates, 17% water, and 1% other nutrients.

Calories

Stevia is well known for containing no calories, whereas honey is a high-calorie food. One tablespoon of honey provides 64 calories.

Purified stevia provides zero calories as it does not metabolize in the body. Steviol compounds are not absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract but metabolized by gut bacteria. There is no accumulation of stevia compounds in the blood (1).

Carbohydrates

Stevia consists of 100% carbohydrates; however, these compounds aren’t carbohydrates in the strict sense. The sweet taste of stevia is due to naturally occurring part-carbohydrate compounds called steviol glycosides.

The carbohydrate content of honey makes up about 95% of its dry weight. One tbsp of honey provides 6g of carbohydrates, while 100g or 5 tbsp of honey contains 82.2g. The sugar content of honey is made up predominantly of fructose and glucose.

Purified stevia leaf extracts can contain one steviol glycoside or several different glycosides, which can be up to 300 times sweeter than sucrose (1).

Protein and Fats

Stevia and honey contain negligible amounts of protein and fats.

Vitamins and Minerals

Stevia does not contain vitamins or minerals, therefore, honey is relatively richer in both.

However, honey is generally not a good source of many vitamins. It contains moderate levels of vitamin C and low levels of some B-group vitamins.

Honey also contains moderate levels of manganese and iron and lower levels of other minerals.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Stevia
0
:
7
Honey
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Folate +∞%
Contains more Choline +∞%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 0% 0% 2% 0% 9% 3% 5% 6% 2% 0% 2% 0%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Folate +∞%
Contains more Choline +∞%

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Stevia
1
:
9
Honey
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Calcium +∞%
Contains more Iron +∞%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains more Phosphorus +∞%
Contains more Potassium +∞%
Contains more Zinc +∞%
Contains more Copper +∞%
Contains more Manganese +∞%
Contains more Selenium +∞%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 2% 16% 2% 2% 5% 1% 6% 12% 11% 5%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Calcium +∞%
Contains more Iron +∞%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains more Phosphorus +∞%
Contains more Potassium +∞%
Contains more Zinc +∞%
Contains more Copper +∞%
Contains more Manganese +∞%
Contains more Selenium +∞%

Glycemic Index

Depending on the variety, the glycemic index value of honey can fall in the range of 35 to 74. However, the mean glycemic index of 17 types of honey has been calculated to be 61. This puts honey in the moderate glycemic index category (2).

On the other hand, stevia has a glycemic index of 0, as its carbohydrates are not absorbed in the bloodstream and do not increase blood glucose levels.

Insulin Index

The insulin index shows the increase of insulin in the blood after consumption of the food.

Honey has been researched to have an insulin index value in the range of 40 to 67. The average insulin index of honey is 62. This can be considered a moderate insulin index.

Stevia, once again, has an insulin index value of 0, as it has been found not to raise insulin levels (3).

Health Impact

Cardiovascular Health

Honey has been studied to have a variety of heart health beneficial properties by improving lipid metabolism, antioxidant activity, reducing blood pressure, restoring heartbeat, and reducing the area of myocardial infarction (4).

Recent research has also suggested that stevia and its metabolites promote cardiovascular health and reduce high blood pressure. In experimental animals, stevia intake showed improved lipid levels and decreased atherosclerosis (5).

However, a higher intake of artificial sweeteners, including steviol glycosides (E960), has been correlated with increased cardiovascular disease risk (6).

Diabetes

As mentioned previously, stevia consumption does not affect blood glucose, insulin, or lipid levels. Stevia can be an alternative tea sweetener to sucralose in diabetic patients (3).

Overall, studies have concluded stevia to have antidiabetic properties, reducing blood glucose and improving metabolism (7).

Despite the moderate glycemic index, honey has also been researched to have antidiabetic properties, reducing blood glucose and potentially preventing diabetic complications (8).

Cancer

Research has found both honey and stevia to have anticarcinogenic and antitumor properties (9, 10).

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: November 02, 2022
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel

Infographic

Stevia vs Honey infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Stevia
1
:
3
Honey
Contains more Carbs +21.4%
Contains more Protein +∞%
Contains more Water +∞%
Contains more Other +∞%
100%
Protein: 0 g
Fats: 0 g
Carbs: 100 g
Water: 0 g
Other: 0 g
82% 17%
Protein: 0.3 g
Fats: 0 g
Carbs: 82.4 g
Water: 17.1 g
Other: 0.2 g
Contains more Carbs +21.4%
Contains more Protein +∞%
Contains more Water +∞%
Contains more Other +∞%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Stevia Honey
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in Saturated Fat Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Stevia Honey Opinion
Net carbs 100g 82.2g Stevia
Protein 0g 0.3g Honey
Carbs 100g 82.4g Stevia
Calories 0kcal 304kcal Honey
Fructose 40.94g Honey
Sugar 0g 82.12g Stevia
Fiber 0g 0.2g Honey
Calcium 0mg 6mg Honey
Iron 0mg 0.42mg Honey
Magnesium 0mg 2mg Honey
Phosphorus 0mg 4mg Honey
Potassium 0mg 52mg Honey
Sodium 0mg 4mg Stevia
Zinc 0mg 0.22mg Honey
Copper 0mg 0.036mg Honey
Manganese 0mg 0.08mg Honey
Selenium 0µg 0.8µg Honey
Vitamin C 0mg 0.5mg Honey
Vitamin B2 0mg 0.038mg Honey
Vitamin B3 0mg 0.121mg Honey
Vitamin B5 0mg 0.068mg Honey
Vitamin B6 0mg 0.024mg Honey
Folate 0µg 2µg Honey
Choline 0mg 2.2mg Honey
Tryptophan 0.004mg Honey
Threonine 0.004mg Honey
Isoleucine 0.008mg Honey
Leucine 0.01mg Honey
Lysine 0.008mg Honey
Methionine 0.001mg Honey
Phenylalanine 0.011mg Honey
Valine 0.009mg Honey
Histidine 0.001mg Honey

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Stevia Honey
Low Fats diet Equal
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
0%
Stevia
2%
Honey
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
0%
Stevia
6%
Honey

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Stevia
Stevia is lower in Sugar (difference - 82.12g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Stevia
Stevia contains less Sodium (difference - 4mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Stevia
Stevia is lower in glycemic index (difference - 61)
Which food is cheaper?
Stevia
Stevia is cheaper (difference - $3)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Honey
Honey is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Honey
Honey is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food contains less Saturated Fat?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Saturated Fat (0 g)

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Stevia - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170679/nutrients
  2. Honey - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169640/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.