There’s no doubt that sugar is the most popular sweetener in the world. In fact, a typical American consumes up to 150 pounds of refined sugar each year, according to an article published in the 2007 issue of the American Apitherapy Journal. Not only are many people addicted to this sweetener, so it can’t be good for your health, there are also many food products that contain hidden sugar.
Despite the buzz about honey’s amazing benefits for health, consumption of this sugar alternative only amounts to one pound per year. Many continue to pit these two against each other in terms of nutritional content. Let’s get to know which one wins not only in health benefits but also in skincare.
Effects of Sugar and Honey on Health
Let’s start with sugar. What happens when you consume sugar regularly?
- Sugar fills you up with empty calories. It’s packed with calories. A teaspoon of sugar contains up to 16 calories. And because it doesn’t provide any vitamins, minerals, proteins or fats, these are empty calories that won’t do your body any good.
- Sugar is bad for your teeth. Because it’s a source of digestible energy for bad bacteria inside the mouth, it can cause plaque and tooth decay.
- Sugar can possibly overload your liver. Before it enters the bloodstream, sugar breaks down into two simple sugars: fructose and glucose. The body can only produce glucose but not fructose. And the liver can only metabolize a certain amount of fructose. Eating too much sugar can overload the liver and force it to convert fructose into fat. This increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. According to studies, people who suffer from this disease usually consume two to three times more fructose than an average person.
- Sugar can cause insulin resistance. When there’s too much glucose in the blood, it can hamper the proper functioning of insulin, which in turn hinders the body from metabolizing sugar as well as before. And this is the precursor to many types of serious diseases such as heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- Sugar contributes to weight gain. The effects of sugar on the brain and hormones promote weight gain, and at the same time increase the risk of obesity.
Now what about honey? What do you get out of eating this sweetener dubbed as the golden liquid?
- Honey alleviates allergy symptoms. Known for its soothing effects and anti-inflammatory properties, honey has been an age-old remedy for coughs, colds and other symptoms that come with seasonal allergies. The theory is that honey acts as a “natural vaccine” getting the body used to the presence of pollen.
- Honey boosts energy. With 17 grams of carbs in every tablespoon, honey can give you the energy you need during low days. It gives a quick boost in the blood sugar, which is a boon to those who are exercising, particularly those doing endurance workouts.
- Honey enhances memory. According to a 2011 study published in the Menopause journal, honey can delay intellectual and memory decline among women in menopause stages. It’s because honey helps the body absorb calcium, which helps in the brain’s proper functioning.
- You can experience even more wellness benefits by consuming honey; this is not the case with sugar. Try carrying honey lollipops in your purse or backpack (enjoy them as candies or hot drink sweeteners) and bee inspired to add more of nature’s wonder to your diet on-the-go.
- Honey improves sleep quality. It does so triggering the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates mood. This hormone is converted into melatonin, a brain chemical in charge of sleeping patterns.
- Honey fights bacterial infections. Because it’s a natural antibiotic, honey is used as an topical application for wounds and burns. Experts have found that it can disinfect wounds with Staphylococcus aureus.
Effects of Sugar and Honey on Skin
This time, let’s probe honey first. Here’s a quick rundown of all the things that it can do for your skin.
- Honey is a natural cleanser. With its antiseptic properties, honey is a great way to remove dirt, impurities and other elements on the skin that cause blemishes.
- Honey facilitates formation of collagen. Because of this, skin looks much younger, and scars and other unsightly spots can disappear.
- Honey keeps face soft and smooth. It does so because of its natural humectant properties. It gives the skin a quick burst of moisture.
- Honey slows down skin aging. Honey’s pack of antioxidants can delay the skin’s degenerative process, helping you maintain your fresh and youthful glow sans the wrinkles, fine lines and crow’s feet.
- Honey can lighten skin. If you’re annoyed with your uneven skin tone or suffering from hyperpigmentation, honey combined with milk can resolve these issues in no time.
- Honey kills bacteria. As a natural antibacterial, honey is an efficient home remedy for acne, preventing breakouts.
Can sugar beat these? Let’s take a look.
- Sugar moisturizes the skin. Like honey, it’s also a natural humectant, which means it attracts moisture from the air and absorbs it into the skin. A sugar body scrub is a great way to keep the skin hydrated.
- Sugar promotes skin cell turnover. Since it contains a type of alpha hydroxy acid called glycolic acid, sugar can effectively eliminate the glue that attaches the old skin cells into the epidermis. Once it gets rid of them, fresh and young-looking skin is revealed.
- Sugar brings back the skin’s healthy glow. Apart from getting rid of the glue that bonds dead skin cells, its gritty texture also helps exfoliate the skin. It is also much gentler compared to salt scrubs, and wouldn’t cause microtears that can lead to more blemishes.
Clearly, honey beats sugar in the arena of health benefits. There’s no benefit to eating sugar, while there’s plenty health perks to enjoy from honey. But when it comes to skincare, honey and sugar both have a lot to offer. Still, it’s honey that wins because not only does it moisturize and exfoliate, it also combats acne and delays skin aging.