Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tea, but with what?

For this damned cold, tea with honey has been the suggested "remedy," but I don't know. I'm okay with honey, but I don't have any. What's the point of keeping it around? I don't plan to buy it just for this cold, either. I do have some sugar. It's the evil white sugar, though.

Honey vs sugar is a common point of discussion and debate, both for those looking to lose weight and those looking to be healthier. People switch from sugar to honey, but what's the real value of the switch? Should you switch? Let's look at the two...

Honey: contains anti-oxidents, vitamins, and minerals not found in sugar. Made by bees, which are hardworking little guys.

Table Sugar: the main made scurge to our wastelines, teeth, and declining health as a society. The root of all evil and is to be avoided.

Honey: 64 calories of sugar per tablespoon. Those little packets at Starbucks have 43 calories. How much do you put in your tea?

Table Sugar: A tablespoon is 45 calories of sugar. Do you really put a whole tablespoon in your tea? That's three teaspoons for those of you who didn't grow up in a kitchen.

Honey: Honey has a distinctive taste. You can even get exotic honey with more distinctive taste.

Table Sugar
: Table sugar pretty much tastes like sugar. It's just sweet.

Honey: There are those who believe that raw honey from local bees (bees which aren't from America, btw) can help with allergies. I call placebo bs on this, but I don't have allergies.

Table Sugar: Seemingly no redeeming qualities except that it bakes well (but only because it's what we are used to).

Honey: Expensive. Will you ration it?

Table Sugar: Inexpensive. Will you throw caution to the wind?

Honey: Honey is paleo/primal. This is laughable just because it's just not a good argument. Ancient man smoked all sorts of things, ate bugs, sometimes ate poisonous things in rituals. That it's been around for a long time is a pointer or clue, it's not the decision maker. Ancient man didn't have honey every day, and when he found a big stash and feasted, he probably felt like crap, too.

Table Sugar: Neolithic food. That it's relatively new to us is a pointer or clue, it's not the decision maker. Broccoli has only been here for a few thousand years, for instance.

What's the bottom line? 

1. Use the sweetener that you will use in the greatest moderation. In the above examples, for me, sugar is the clear choice for my tea, since I use a teaspoon of sugar, but a packet of honey. What would you use?

2. Many sweeteners have a distinctive taste, and this can either allow you to use less OR prompt you to use more. Brown sugar and honey are flavoring agents in addition to sweeteners, how will that effect your oatmeal and your dose of sugar? I would use fewer calories of brown sugar or honey, because there's a taste in there.

3. Is having it around an issue? In your pantry:

  • Sugars tend to come in large bags, so you'll have a lot of it around. Problem?
  • Brown sugar gets old and hard, so will you hurry up and use it?
  • Honey crystallizes, so will you try to use it before that happens?

4. Fancy sugars are just fancy sugars. Taste aside, they are sugar calories. Don't go thinking coconut sugar, raw sugar, or turbinado sugars are better for you, they aren't. Like honey, they are just different.

5. Agave is one of the most processed sugars of all. It's a trick. Agave nectar sounds natural, but it's no more natural than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

6. HFCS is no more a problem than sugar, but it's everywhere. HFCS has been fingered as an obesity cause because obese people and type 2 diabetics tend to have so much of it, but if it wasn't there, they'd have the equivalent amount of table sugar in that soda (the soda would just cost 5 cents more, probably). Remember, that SUGAR and the amount of it that "we" eat is the problem, not one particular type.

7. Some "sugars" have more fructose or more glucose than others. In the amounts you should be eating them, this is insignificant, but just be careful not to fall for the hype. Honey and agave, for instance are higher in fructose, which you are told is awesome. But, more fructose isn't awesome, especially if you are already heavy, obese, metabolically challenged, or have type 2 diabetes. Again, in the amounts you should be having sugar, don't sweat the fructose levels of a tablespoon of "sugar."

8, Don't rely on your sweetener for vitamins and minerals. There's hardly anything in there. You're kidding yourself if that's a decision point. Eat more vegetables or take a vitamin, if that's your concern.


So, after all that, should you switch? Or should you even worry about it?

What did I have with my tea? Half and half. I don't really like my tea sweet.


  1. I stopped having my tea (and occasional coffee) with sugar some time back. But if I have a sore throat, I tend to make thyme tea and go for raw organic honey which comes in a pretty small jar (no crystallization) and still has bits of the comb in it. It's for the throat soothing more so than the sweetness. So yeah, I'd go for the honey personally because it's not really processed and when I say I eat paleo, my goal is really to eat foods in their natural state as much as possible.

  2. That honey sounds pretty good!

  3. I love honey no matter what anyone says. I like honey for not only the fact that I can get it local but because of the energetic value of it.I mean, it is made by bees from flowers in the sun. How precious is that?

  4. I'm old enough to remember that sugar was made by beautiful hula girls in Hawaii. Talk about precious! ;)


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