How Much Sugar Is in Honey?

Excess sugar consumption has been linked to multiple health problems, including higher blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, weight gain and even heart disease and stroke. As a result of this, many people are understandably becoming vigilant about the sugar content of various foods. Raw honey has been hailed as a healthier alternative to sugar, so it is natural to wonder — exactly how much sugar is in honey?

Here is what you need to know about understanding sugar content in foods and how much sugar honey contains.

kauai honey floral display

Understanding Sugar Content in Foods

When we are talking about sugar in naturally occurring foods, we do not actually mean the white table sugar that probably comes to mind when you hear the word “sugar.” While this kind of table sugar may be added to processed foods to make them sweeter, no one is stirring table sugar into a bottle of honey or sprinkling it on an apple to make it sweeter.

Instead, there are two main types of naturally occurring sugars that you will find in carbohydrate foods: fructose and glucose. Both fructose and glucose are monosaccharides, meaning that they are a single molecule that cannot be broken down any further. All carbohydrates contain some level of glucose, which is the least sweet of all the sugars. Some foods — most especially fruit — also contain naturally occurring fructose. Fructose is sweeter than glucose, so it is often added to processed foods to make them even sweeter.

In your research into the sugar content of different foods, you might have come across a type of sugar known as “sucrose.” Sucrose is actually a combination of fructose and glucose. Sucrose occurs when one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule bond together, forming the disaccharide sucrose.

Traditional table sugar is 100 percent sucrose, composed of 50 percent fructose molecules and 50 percent glucose molecules that are bonded together. When you eat table sugar, your body must first break down the sucrose molecules into their fructose and glucose components before it can digest the sugar.

brightland honey duo with produce flowers

How Much Sugar Is in Honey?

Now that we understand the basics of sugar content in naturally occurring foods, it is time to talk about the sugar content in honey. Raw honey is composed of roughly 40 percent fructose and 30 percent glucose. The exact ratios of fructose to glucose vary with each variety of honey. The remainder of the honey is made up of water, pollen, minerals, vitamins, amino acids and other components.

As you can see, unfiltered honey does not contain even amounts of fructose and glucose. This means that it is not possible for them to bond to form 100 percent sucrose content, the way the molecules in table sugar do. Honey also contains components other than sugar, whereas table sugar is made of 100 percent sugar molecules. As a result, honey is lower on the glycemic index (GI) and raises blood sugar levels more slowly.

However, if you check the nutrition facts on the side of a bottle of honey and a bag of sugar, you will notice that honey has roughly 17 grams of sugar per tablespoon, while sugar has roughly 12.5 grams of sugar per tablespoon. So how is this possible if honey contains less sugar content than table sugar?

dipping into brightland kauai honey

This happens because nutritional information measures ingredients by weight, and honey is denser than table sugar. This means that the same amount of honey has more weight and mass than the same amount of table sugar. Honey is also sweeter than table sugar, so you need less honey to get the same amount of sweetness as table sugar. As with all sugars, honey is best consumed in moderation as part of a well-rounded diet.

Looking to try some raw honey? Our set The Couplet features two delicious raw honey flavors — California Orange Blossom and Kauai Wildflower — to suit a wide range of palates. Try it today and you will never want to go back to generic grocery store honey again!