A New Study Comes Down Hard on Honey

Truth time.
Truth time. Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images

Turns out that whole thing about honey being a “nectar of the gods” might be false advertising. In this month’s Journal of Nutrition, a team of nutritionists report that they came upon a surprising discovery while studying different sweeteners to see just how much worse high-fructose corn syrup is, diabetes- and obesity-wise. They found there are essentially identical health benefits in both the natural honey that’s a health-nut staple and the artificial corn syrup companies far and wide are eliminating.

For the study, which was conducted by the USDA (and, funny side note, funded by the honey industry itself), lead researcher Susan Raatz and her team gave subjects honey, cane sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup, then measured their blood sugars, insulin levels, body weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. The only noticeable change? A blood fat that’s a marker for heart disease, which rose for all three. Given corn syrup’s bad rap, Raatz’s team wasn’t expecting to learn that in terms of chemical effects on the body, all three “are very, very similar.” Not that this will, or should, save it from getting purged alongside other artificial ingredients, which is definitely the winning marketing move right now.

Speaking of marketing, Raatz also offers a some free advice to whatever brilliant marketing team put the word high in high-fructose corn syrup: That was “a big mistake,” she says. “A sweetener is a sweetener, no matter the source.”


A New Study Comes Down Hard on Honey