10 Surprising Health Benefits of Honey

Since ancient times, honey has been used as both food and medicine.

It’s very high in beneficial plant compounds and offers several health benefits. Honey is particularly healthy when used instead of refined sugar, which is 100% empty calories.

Here are the top 10 health benefits of honey.

For children over one year of age, honey can act as a natural and safe cough suppressant. Some studies show that it is even more effective than cough medicine.

Nectar is as much as 70 percent water, while honey is only about 20 percent water. Bees get rid of the extra water by swallowing and regurgitating the nectar over and over. They also fan their wings over the filled cells of the honeycomb. This process retains lots of sugar and the plant’s aromatic oils while adding enzymes from the bees’ mouths.

The finished honey is thick, sticky and very sweet. It contains several types of sugar, including sucrose, laevulose, and dextrose. Its flavor and color depend on the flowers from which the bees harvested their nectar. Orange blossom honey, for example, tastes and smells faintly of oranges.

1. Honey contains some nutrients

Honey is a sweet, thick liquid made by honeybees. The bees collect sugar — mainly the sugar-rich nectar of flowers — from their environment. Once inside the beehive, they repeatedly consume, digest and regurgitate the nectar. The end product is honey, a liquid that serves as stored food for bees. The smell, color, and taste depend on the types of flowers visited.

Nutritionally, 1 tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar, including fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose. It contains virtually no fiber, fat or protein.

It also contains trace amounts — under 1% of the RDI — of several vitamins and minerals, but you would have to eat many pounds to fulfill your daily requirements.

Where honey shines is in its content of bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants. Darker types tend to be even higher in these compounds than lighter types.

SUMMARY Honey is thick, sweet liquid made by honeybees. It is low in vitamins and minerals but may be high in some plant compounds.

2. High-Quality Honey Is Rich in Antioxidants

High-quality honey contains many important antioxidants. These include organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids. Scientists believe that the combination of these compounds gives honey its antioxidant power.  Interestingly, two studies have shown that buckwheat honey increases the antioxidant value of your blood.

Antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancer. They may also promote eye health.

SUMMARY Honey contains a number of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds like flavonoids.

3. Honey Is “Less Bad” Than Sugar for Diabetics

The evidence on honey and diabetes is mixed. On one hand, it can reduce several risk factors for heart disease common in people with type 2 diabetes.

For example, it may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammation while raising “good” HDL cholesterol. However, some studies have found that it can also increase blood sugar levels — just not as much as refined sugar.

While honey may be slightly better than refined sugar for people with diabetes, it should still be consumed with caution. In fact, people with diabetes may do best by minimizing.

Keep in mind, too, that certain types of honey may be adulterated with plain syrup. Although honey adulteration is illegal in most countries, it remains a widespread problem.

Beeswild.com honey is raw, not centrifuged, unfiltered and unpasteurized.

SUMMARY Some studies show that honey improves heart disease risk factors in people with diabetes. However, it also raises blood sugar levels — so it cannot be considered healthy for people with diabetes.

4. The Antioxidants in It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is an important risk factor for heart disease, and honey may help lower it. This is because it contains antioxidant compounds that have been linked to lower blood pressure.

Studies in both rats and humans have shown modest reductions in blood pressure from consuming honey.

SUMMARY Eating honey may lead to modest reductions in blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease.

5. Honey Also Helps Improve Cholesterol

High LDL cholesterol levels are a strong risk factor for heart disease. This type of cholesterol plays a major role in atherosclerosis, the fatty buildup in your arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Interestingly, several studies show that honey may improve your cholesterol levels. It reduces total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while significantly raising “good” HDL cholesterol.

For example, one study in 55 patients compared honey to table sugar and found that honey caused a 5.8% reduction in LDL and a 3.3% increase in HDL cholesterol. It also led to a modest weight loss of 1.3%.

SUMMARY Honey seems to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. It leads to modest reductions in total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.

6. Honey Can Lower Triglycerides

Elevated blood triglycerides are another risk factor for heart disease. They are also associated with insulin resistance, a major driver of type 2 diabetes.

Triglyceride levels tend to increase on a diet high in sugar and refined carbs. Interestingly, multiple studies have linked regular honey consumption with lower triglyceride levels, especially when it is used to replace sugar.

For example, one study comparing honey and sugar found 11–19% lower triglyceride levels in the honey group.

SUMMARY Elevated triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Several studies show that honey can lower triglyceride levels, especially when used as a sugar substitute.

7. The Antioxidants in It Are Linked to Other Beneficial Effects on Heart Health

Again, honey is a rich source of phenols and other antioxidant compounds. Many of these have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. They may help the arteries in your heart dilate, increasing blood flow to your heart. They may also help prevent blood clot formation, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Furthermore, one study in rats showed that honey protected the heart from oxidative stress.

All told, there is no long-term human study available on honey and heart health. Take these results with a grain of salt.

SUMMARYThe antioxidants in honey have been linked to beneficial effects on heart health, including increased blood flow to your heart and a reduced risk of blood clot formation.

8. Honey Promotes Burn and Wound Healing

The topical honey treatment has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt and is still common today.

A review of 26 studies on honey and wound care found honey most effective at healing partial-thickness burns and wounds that have become infected after surgery. Honey is also an effective treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, which are serious complications that can lead to amputation. One study reported a 43.3% success rate with honey as a wound treatment. In another study, topical honey healed a whopping 97% of patients’ diabetic ulcers.

Researchers believe that honey’s healing powers come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects as well as its ability to nourish surrounding tissue.

What’s more, it can help treat other skin conditions, including psoriasis and herpes lesions. Manuka honey is considered especially effective for treating burn wounds.

SUMMARY When applied to the skin, honey can be part of an effective treatment plan for burns, wounds and many other skin conditions. It is particularly effective for diabetic foot ulcers.

9. Honey Can Help Suppress Coughs in Children

Coughing is a common problem for children with upper respiratory infections. These infections can affect sleep and quality of life for both children and parents. However, mainstream medications for cough are not always effective and can have side effects. Interestingly, honey may be a better choice, and evidence indicates it is very effective.

One study found that honey worked better than two common cough medications. Another study found that it reduced cough symptoms and improved sleep more than cough medication.

Nevertheless, honey should never be given to children under one year of age due to the risk of botulism.

SUMMARY For children over one year of age, honey can act as a natural and safe cough suppressant. Some studies show that it is even more effective than cough medicine.

10. It’s Delicious, But Still High in Calories and Sugar Honey is a delicious, healthier alternative to sugar

Make sure to choose a high-quality brand, because some lower-quality ones may be mixed with syrup. Keep in mind that honey should only be consumed in moderation, as it is still high in calories and sugar.

The benefits of honey are most pronounced when it is replacing another, unhealthier sweetener. At the end of the day, honey is simply a “less bad” sweetener than sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

What Are Allergies? 

Seasonal allergies are the plague of many who love the great outdoors. They usually begin in February and last until August or September. Seasonal allergies occur when plants start to produce pollen. Pollen is a powder-like substance that helps plants make seeds and reproduce.

People can inhale pollen, which leads to seasonal allergies. Allergies occur when the body perceives the pollen as a foreign invader, similar to a bacteria or virus. In response, the body mounts an attack. This results in symptoms such as:

  • sneezing
  • watery and itchy eyes
  • a runny nose
  • sore throat
  • coughing
  • headaches
  • trouble breathing

There are over-the-counter treatments available for seasonal allergies, but many people prefer natural treatments instead. One example rumored to help with seasonal allergies is local honey. Local honey is raw, unprocessed honey made close to where you live. This honey is rumored to help allergies, but scientists and doctors are skeptical.

Why Is Honey Believed to Help Allergies?

The idea behind honey treating allergies is similar to that of a person getting allergy shots. But while allergy shots have been proven to be effective, honey hasn’t. When a person eats local honey, they are thought to be ingesting local pollen. Over time, a person may become less sensitive to this pollen. As a result, they may experience fewer seasonal allergy symptoms.

It’s true that bees pollinate flowers and make honey. But the amounts of pollen from the environment and plants are thought to be very small and varied. When a person eats local honey, they have no guarantee how much (if any) pollen they’re being exposed to. This differs from allergy shots that purposefully desensitize a person to pollen at standard measurements.

What Research Has Been Conducted Regarding Honey and Allergies?

One study examined the effect of pasteurized honey on allergy symptoms compared to local honey. The results showed that neither group who ate honey experienced relief from seasonal allergies.

However, a different study found that honey eaten at a high dose did improve a person’s allergy symptoms over a period of eight weeks.

These studies have conflicting results and small sample sizes. This makes it hard to determine if local honey could reliably help a person reduce their seasonal allergy symptoms. Larger-scale studies are needed to confirm or recommend a certain amount of honey.

What You Should Know Before You Use Honey as a Treatment

Doctors and researchers haven’t recommended a certain amount of honey a person should eat each day to relieve their seasonal allergy symptoms. Plus, there are no guarantees of how much pollen may be in a serving of local honey.

Note that you should not give honey to children under the age of 1. This is because raw, unprocessed honey has a risk for botulism in infants. Also, some people who have a severe allergy to pollen can experience a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis after eating honey.

This can cause extreme difficulty breathing. Others may experience allergic reactions such as itching or swelling of the mouth, throat, or skin.

Honey hasn’t been scientifically proven to reduce allergies. However, it can still be a tasty alternative to sugary foods. Some people also use it as a cough suppressant. If you have seasonal allergies, you may need to look for a medically proven treatment. Examples include over-the-counter allergy medicines or simply avoiding going outside as much as possible.

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