Honey and agave nectar are both trendy alternatives right now when it comes to choosing a healthier sugar source to satisfy your sweet tooth. But which one is healthier? Both are all-natural sweeteners and less-refined than white sugar.

Here’s a look at the nutritional value and health benefits of these sugar substitutes, you might be surprised by the results!


How are agave nectar and honey made?

Both honey and agave nectar are considered natural products, but they differ in how they end up on the grocery store shelf.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is actually a syrup, nectar is really just a marketing term. It comes from the fluid inside the blue agave plant. This is the same plant that is used to make tequila.

Agave nectar is made by the following steps:

  1. The fluid is first extracted from the plant
  2. The juice is then filtered
  3. The filtered juice is heated to break down its components into a simple sugar called fructose
  4. The resulting liquid is then concentrated into a syrup

Agave nectar requires multiple processing steps before it can be consumed. Processed food may be less healthy because the process of refining foods means losing some, or all, of its natural health benefits.


Honey comes from bees. These busy little insects produce honey by collecting the nectar of plants. Unlike agave nectar, honey doesn’t have to be processed before consuming. However, certain brands of honey are heated (pasteurised) to prevent crystallisation and to kill bacteria before storage. Raw honey is all-natural and unprocessed, making it the wiser choice.

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Agave and honey have about the same number of calories. Both a tablespoon of agave and a tablespoon of honey contain roughly 64 calories. The two are also a bit sweeter than white sugar, so you don’t have to use as much to obtain the sweetness you desire. Keep in mind that both add these calories to your dish with a little extra nutrition.

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Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index (GI) measures how much carbohydrate-rich food may raise blood glucose levels. Sugar is a carbohydrate. GI is an especially important tool for people with diabetes, who need to control their blood glucose levels to stay healthy. Foods with higher GI can trigger a spike in blood sugar and insulin release after eating. High-GI foods are also digested quickly, which can mean feeling hungry again much sooner.

Here’s a GI breakdown of each sweetener: