Refined sugars are high in calories but are usually lacking in minerals and vitamins. They are often considered unhealthy and have been associated with several diseases including obesity.
Foods primarily containing refined sugars are said to be empty calories as they have little nutritional value.
However, honey and dates are both sources of natural sugars and can be used as alternatives to refined sugar.
In addition to natural sugars, honey and dates contain important nutrients that are beneficial especially when they are consumed in moderation.
But how different are dates and honey nutritionally?
When their nutritional contents are compared, dates are richer in fiber and several other nutrients compared to honey, and dates also have a lower glycemic index than honey.
This article talks about more about the nutritional differences between dates and honey.
Table of Contents
What is honey?
Honey is a viscous golden liquid that is popularly used as a natural sweetener.
It is known for its health benefits and for being a substitute to refined sugar.
Honey contains natural sugars and can be used when baking or as a spread for toasts.
Bees produce honey by using the nectars that they obtain from flowers.
Varieties of honey can be classified based on their taste, color and texture, as well as the flower from where the bees collect the nectar from.
The nectar for producing honey could be obtained from a single flower type or from multiple flowers.
There so many varieties of honey, they include varieties like mannuka honey, acacia honey, alfalfa honey, clover honey, sage honey and lavender honey.
Honey could also be raw or processed.
When the honey is gotten from a beehive and used, without processing it or putting any other additional ingredients into it, then the honey is known as raw honey.
However, a lot of times, the raw honey obtained is made to undergo a process known as pasteurization.
The pasteurization process kills a lot of the microorganisms and destroys the toxins in the raw honey.
Honey that has been pasteurized and filtered is known as processed honey. Sometimes, sugar is also added to the processed honey to give it a sweeter taste.
Honey has been also shown to have some antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.
It is also used medically as a cough suppressant.
However, honey has been associated with allergies and could also cause health conditions such as infant botulism.
What are dates?
Dates are highly nutritious fruits gotten from date palms where they grow in clusters.
Medjool and Deglet Noor are the two varieties of dates commonly sold.
Dates could be also be sold either dry or fresh.
They are sweet and are rich in natural sugars.
These fruits can also be used as a substitute for sugar, or as an alternative to honey especially for those who are allergic to honey.
Dates are known for being very rich in nutrients.
They are also a good source of fiber.
Dates also contain antioxidants such as carotenoids, flavonoids and phenolic acids.
These fruits can processed to give date paste, date syrup or date sugar.
Date syrup is a caramel colored syrup that can be used for pancakes or baking. Date sugar is granulated and is made from dried dates while date paste is very thick paste that is used as a sweetener.
Difference between honey and dates
Dates and honey are both high in their calorie content.
However, there is a slightly higher amount of calories in honey.
There are about 64 calories in a tablespoon of honey, while for a tablespoon of date syrup, the calorie content is around 59 calories.
Dates have some amounts of protein while honey has a very little or no protein.
The glycemic index and glycemic load are two important measurements which tell the effects of a particular food on blood glucose level. Foods are therefore classified as high, medium and low using this standard of measurement.
Honey has a glycemic index of 52, which can be said to be mid range in the glycemic index.
Dates on the other hand have on average a glycemic index of 42, which is within the low range of the glycemic index.
Consuming them in moderate amounts is also important to keep blood sugar levels in check.
Dietary fibers are important for several reasons, they can help prevent constipation by increasing the bulk of stool, and they are also helpful when it comes to controlling blood sugar and reducing cholesterol
Dates are rich in dietary fibre; about a 100g of dates contains about 8 grams of fibre which is very high.
Honey is poor in fibers having very little or insignificant amount of fiber.
Both honey and date fruit are made up of high amounts carbohydrates.
Dates are a rich source of vitamin B6, and they contain some amount of other vitamins.
Honey has very small amount of several vitamins.
Dates are also richer than honey when other essential nutrients are considered.
Minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron are greater in dates than they are in the same amount of honey.
Comparing honey and dates
|Fibers||High in fiber||Low in fiber|
|Protein||Has some amount of proteins||Low in proteins|
|Glycemic index||42 (low)||58 (medium)|
|Vitamins||Rich in vitamin B6 and contains other vitamins||Contains trace amount of vitamins|
|Minerals||Rich in several minerals||Contains small amounts of minerals|
Sugars are a natural component of many foods.
Compared to refined sugars, some food with natural sugars contribute a greater amount of other beneficial nutrient.
Honey and dates are rich sources of natural sugars, and therefore, could be used as substitutes of refine sugar.
They are both high in calories with honey being slightly higher in calorie content.
Compared to honey, dates are richer in dietary fibre, protein, potassium, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and iron.
The glycemic index of date fruits is also slightly lower than the glycemic index of honey.
However, honey and dates are both healthy alternatives to refined sugar especially when they are consumed in moderate amount.