Should you put honey or sugar in your coffee?

Coffee is a morning staple everywhere. It provides you with that much-needed caffeine rush to get your day started. Unless you like your coffee dark and bitter, you typically add some sort of sweetener to your enticing cup of Joe. The two main additives to give your coffee a sweet kick is either honey or sugar. Sugar is typically the more common addition, but honey has been gaining traction. There are pros and cons to both, so it is important to see which one will improve your own cup of coffee to make it as enjoyable as possible.

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Honey overview

Coffee cup with honey stick
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Honey is a natural sweetener. It is a sweet, sticky substance made by honeybees and other related insects. Bees generate honey from the sweet secretions of plants and store honey in wax honeycombs. Honey is typically gathered from bee farms designed specifically for the production and collection of this gooey, delicious creation. Nutritionally, one tablespoon of honey is 64 calories, has 17 grams of carbohydrates, 17 grams of sugar, and 1 percent iron based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Sugar overview

Woman with coffee and spoonful of sugar
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Sugar is formed in the leaves of the sugarcane plant. This plant grows like any other, through photosynthesis. The sugar is stored as a sweet juice in sugarcane stalks. For harvesting, sugarcane is chopped down and sent to factories for processing. The sugarcane juice is extracted, filtered, and finally crystalized into raw sugar that you typically scoop into your coffee. Nutritionally, one tablespoon of sugar is 49 calories, has 13 grams of carbohydrates, and 13 grams of sugar based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

  • Pros of honey
  • More nutrients. Honey’s nutrients can depend on the type of nectar used to create it. However, it typically contains many nutrients like amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Dark honey has been thought to have more antioxidants than light honey.
  • Less processed than sugar. Honey as a final product is much less processed than sugar. It typically only goes through a pasteurization process to ensure safe consumption.
  • Cough suppressant. Honey is a natural way to ease coughing or soreness in the throat. Mixed with a warm liquid, like coffee, it may help reduce irritation in the throat.
  • Allergy Relief. Honey has also shown signs of allergy relief. Honey has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits that may help relieve your allergy symptoms.
  • Easier to digest. Honey is easier on the digestive system than sugar. It has many enzymes to help the digestion process.
  • Long shelf life. Honey has a shelf life of about two years. It is impossible for bacteria to grow on honey, which is why it can last so long.

Cons of honey

  • Higher calorie count than sugar. Honey contains 13 more calories in a tablespoon than sugar. This is something to consider when counting calories for your diet plans.
  • Higher sugar content than sugar. Honey also contains more sugar than sugar. That may sound strange, but it is true. A tablespoon of honey contains four more grams of sugar than sugar does.
  • Risk of impact on blood sugar. The high levels of sugar in honey can affect your blood-sugar levels. It is important to keep track of your honey consumption, especially for those with diabetes or insulin problems.
  • May affect flavoring of coffee. Even though coffee has a super-strong, intense flavor, honey can sometimes add a different note to the flavoring. It is not a bad flavor, but it may be something you need to get used to when trying it out in your coffee.

Pros of sugar

  • Lower calories. Sugar has a lower calorie count than honey does when compared to the same amount. This can help during dieting and trying to keep your calories low.
  • Lower sugar. Sugar also has fewer grams of sugar than honey. This allows you to keep your sugar levels lower.
  • Lower cost. Sugar is a super-affordable way to sweeten your coffee. Sugar is a plentiful and easy-to-process product, which helps keep prices low.
  • Long shelf life. Just like honey, sugar can last on your shelf for a long time. It has a shelf life of two years.

Cons of sugar

  • Higher on the glycemic index than honey. Sugar can spike blood glucose levels much faster than honey.
  • Increased risk of heart disease. Sugar consumption is associated with weight gain and obesity that can directly lead to heart disease.
  • Potentially more liver issues. Metabolizing such refined and processed sugar can be very tough on the liver, potentially creating issues.
  • Dental cavities. Sugar is known for helping dental cavities develop faster and on more teeth.
  • Harder to digest than honey. Sugar doesn’t contain as many enzymes as honey because it is so processed, which ultimately makes sugar more difficult to digest.
Full glass coffee cup
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As you can see, there are many benefits and disadvantages to both sugar and honey. Too much of either can ultimately cause negative reactions for your body, so it is important to always consume either one in moderation. Honey is typically better for your bodily functions and organs even though it is higher in calories and sugar content. Sugar, however, is lower in calories, is low-cost, and has a long shelf life. Determining which one belongs in your coffee all comes down to what you value the most and what are the immediate needs of your lifestyle.

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