Honey has been used as food and medicine since ancient times.
It is very rich in beneficial botanicals and offers several health benefits. Honey is especially healthy when used in place of refined sugar, which has 100% empty calories.
Here are the top 9 health benefits of honey.
1. Honey Contains Some Nutrients
Honey is a thick, sweet liquid made by bees.
Bees collect sugar, mainly sugar-rich flower nectar, from their environment.
Once in the hive, they repeatedly consume, digest, and vomit the nectar.
The end product is honey, a liquid that is used as food for bees. The smell, color, and taste depend on the type of flowers visited.
1 tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar, including fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose.
It contains practically no fiber, fats, or proteins.
It also contains traces (less than 1% of the RDI) of various vitamins and minerals, but you would need to eat several pounds to meet your daily needs.
Where honey shines is its content of bioactive plant substances and antioxidants. The darker types tend to be even higher in these compounds than the lighter types.
2. High-Quality Honey Is Rich in Antioxidants
Good quality honey contains many important antioxidants. These include organic acids and phenolic compounds such as 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 levels of the blood.
Antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, and certain types of cancer. They can also benefit eye health.
3. Honey Is “Less Bad” Than Sugar for Diabetics
The evidence for honey and diabetes is mixed.
On the one hand, it can reduce several risk factors for heart disease that are common in people with type 2 diabetes.
For example, it can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and inflammation, while it increases “good” HDL cholesterol.
However, some studies have shown that it can also raise blood sugar, but not as much as refined sugar.
While honey is slightly better than refined sugar for people with diabetes, it should nonetheless be consumed with caution.
In fact, people with diabetes can do better by minimizing all foods high in carbohydrates.
Also, note that some types of honey can be adulterated with regular syrup. Although adulteration of honey is illegal in most countries, it remains a widespread problem.
4. The Antioxidants in It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, and honey can help bring it down.
This is because it contains antioxidants that have been linked to low blood pressure.
Studies in rats and humans have shown that consuming honey lowers blood pressure slightly. High LDL cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart disease.
This type of cholesterol plays an important role in arteriosclerosis, the accumulation of fat in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Interestingly, several studies show that honey can improve your cholesterol levels.
It reduces total LDL and “bad” cholesterol, while significantly increasing “good” HDL cholesterol.
For example, a study of 55 patients compared honey to table sugar and found that honey caused a 5.8% decrease in LDL and a 3.3% increase in HDL cholesterol. It also resulted in a modest 1.3% weight loss.
5. Honey Also Helps Improve Cholesterol
Another risk factor for heart disease is high blood triglycerides.
They are also linked to insulin resistance, one of the main drivers of type 2 diabetes.
Triglyceride levels tend to increase with a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Interestingly, several studies have linked regular honey consumption to lower levels of triglycerides, especially when used as a sugar substitute.
For example, a study comparing honey and sugar found 11 to 19% lower triglyceride levels in the honey group.
6. Honey Can Lower Triglycerides
Again, honey is a rich source of phenols and other antioxidants. Many of them have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
They can help the arteries in your heart widen, which increases blood flow to your heart. They can also help prevent blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
A study in rats also showed that honey protects the heart from oxidative stress.
Overall, there are no long-term human and heart health studies. Take these results with a grain of salt.
7. The Antioxidants in It Are Linked to Other Beneficial Effects on Heart Health
The topical honey treatment has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt and is still widely used today.
A review of 26 honey and wound care studies found honey to be most effective at healing burns and partial thickness wounds that became 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 using honey as a wound treatment. In another study, topical honey healed 97% of diabetic ulcers in patients.
The researchers believe that honey’s healing powers stem from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to nourish surrounding tissues.
In addition, it can help treat other skin conditions such as psoriasis and herpes lesions.
Manuka honey is said to be particularly effective in treating burns.
8. Honey Promotes Burn and Wound Healing
Coughing is a common problem in children with upper respiratory infections.
These infections can affect the sleep and quality of life of children and parents.
However, traditional cough medicines are not always effective and can have side effects. Interestingly, honey may be a better option, and the evidence shows that it is very effective.
One study found that honey worked better than two common cough medicines.
Another study found that it reduced cough symptoms and improved sleep more than cough medication.
However, due to the risk of botulism, honey should never be given to children under one year of age.
9. Honey Can Help Suppress Coughs in Children
Honey is a delicious and healthier alternative to sugar.
Make sure you choose a good quality brand as lower quality ones can be mixed with syrup.
Note that honey should only be consumed in moderation as it is still high in calories and sugar.
The benefits of honey are most evident when it is substituted for another less healthy sweetener.
At the end of the day, honey is simply a “less bad” sweetener than sugar and high fructose corn syrup.