battle of the sweeteners
with sooooo many sweeteners & sugar alternatives popping up on the market these days, we decided to get down & dirty with the top three choices for sticky chai – agave, honey and our personal favourite, coconut sugar!
how’s it made, is it healthy and is it worth it? Find out below…..
ROUND 2: honey
dominant sugar – fructose (56%)
Glycemic Index – 55
Honey is the product created by bees following the collection of nectar from flowering plants. It’s stored as honeycomb in the beehive to provide a food for the winter. This is important because over this colder period there are fewer opportunities for the bees to forage and fewer flowers from which to gather nectar. Honey makes the perfect pantry staple in the hive, supplying the colony with nutrients and energy
how is it made?
honey is made from the sugary secretions of plants or from secretions of other insects by regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. The honey produced by bees is stored & sealed in wax structures called honeycombs, which can prevent honey from spoiling for THOUSANDS of years – impressive or what?
on the downside, honey is NOT vegan, as those following the diet seek to exclude any food that exploits living creatures and the commercial harvesting of honey is seen as detrimental to the bees, who work hard to manufacture it in order to support their own survival through the colder months
is it healthy?
Honey, in its raw, unpasteurized state, is actually very healthy. It’s absolutely packed with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory & antibacterial micro-organisms that help maintain a healthy gut, heart and even respiratory system, although much more research needs to be done to fully understand how
the downside is that most supermarket brands are pasteurized (heat-treated) and research shows that once it’s heated above 40C very little, if any, of the micro-organisms that give it such super-powers do not survive. So, raw honey in chai, which is the most popular sticky element used, may seem quite healthy in theory but once the chai is steeped in boiling water or steamed with milk to 60C+ there is no nutritional benefit
FYI – infants under the age of 12 months or people with a compromised immune system should NOT consume honey. This is because they may be at risk of a type of food poisoning called botulism
is it sustainable?
the mass-produced commercial honey you find in Coles, for example, is very unsustainbale…
- the mass breeding of honeybees affects the population gene-pool, resulting in the hive being more susceptible to diseases that may be brought in by the importing of other bees, which often results in large-scale die-offs.
- when farmers remove honey from a hive, they replace it with a sugar substitute which is significantly worse for the bees’ health, since it lacks the essential micro-nutrients of honey
- beekeepers often clip the wings of the queen bee to prevent them leaving the hive to produce a new colony elsewhere, which would decrease productivity and lessen profit
there are plenty of small, local honey producers that have very sustainable, ethical practices. The best way to ensure you aren’t buying into the profit-driven over-commercialisation of honey is to buy from these producers directly – through local farmers markets or even from the farm itself. These honey producers are often much more focused on the health & welfare of the bees, which in turn gives a higher quality product, but always ask plenty of questions before you buy!
if you’re after a healthy sugar alternative, honey is a perfect choice but it must be consumed in its natural, raw state, otherwise there is ZERO nutritional benefit – you’re just consuming sugar & empty calories!
check back soon for ROUND 3: coconut sugar!
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