Honey A Delightful, Natural Sweetener With Many Science-Backed Benefits

Written by Gayathri Vijay

Honey is one of the most commonly used natural sweeteners globally. It is a go-to alternative for sugar since it provides more benefits. It has a wide range of nutrients like folate, flavonoids, manganese, and iron that can positively affect many aspects of your health. This article explores the wide range of benefits honey can offer when added to your daily diet. Keep reading to understand the rewards of using honey every day and certain home remedies to help solve common health issues.

Raw Honey: An Overview

The purest form of honey is when it is raw, directly from the hive. Worker bees have to drain the nectar from about two million flowers to produce one pound of honey. Unadulterated and unprocessed honey has all of its properties intact. For example, honey is rich in antibacterial and antioxidant properties and is an abundant source of nutrients. These nutrients go directly front the honey to our bloodstream (1).

While the extraction process of honey is the same everywhere, there is a difference in how it is bottled as a final product.

  • After filtering it once, some beekeepers bottle the pure honey to remove any beeswax or contaminants like insect pieces. This honey is raw. Raw honey tends to crystalize at low temperatures. It has a more dense nature, is more opaque, and contains some good yeast.
  • Some processors filter raw honey further, removing the yeast and air bubbles left behind by the first round of filtration. This honey has a longer shelf life and is more appealing to the buyer but has lost most of its nutritional value.

In the following section, we discuss the important benefits of honey.

Nutritional Facts About Honey

The following is the nutritional profile of a 21 g serving (1 tablespoon) of raw honey (2).

  • Honey is the source of these compounds:
CompoundAmount
Energy63.8 kcal
Carbohydrates17.3 g
Total sugars17.2 g
Of which fructose8.59 g
Of which glucose7.52 g
Of which sucrose0.187 g
  • It has the following minerals:
MineralAmount (in mg)
Manganese0.017
Zinc0.046
Iron0.088
Magnesium0.42
Sodium0.84
Phosphorus0.84
Calcium1.26
Potassium10.9
  • It also has trace amounts of copper, selenium, and fluoride, which are all antioxidant minerals.
  • Honey also contains trace amounts of fiber (0.042 g).
  • Honey has little amounts of folate and vitamins B3, B12, and C.

Honey is a healthy source of these nutrients. Regular intake may offer some important benefits. We discuss the same in the next section.

Benefits Of Honey

1. May Help Reduce Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

Honey is a source of phenols and flavonoids that are proven antioxidants. Phenols have antioxidant and vasorelaxant properties that may help fight oxidative stress on the heart and blood vessels (3).

Relaxation of blood vessels reduces the pressure on the heart to pump blood (3).

Hone is rich in antioxidants. Research suggests that antioxidant therapy may help reduce the risk of heart damage (3).

2. Honey Can Help Heal Wounds

Honey may accelerate the wound healing process. This is true for most wounds, including burns. Raw honey has hydrogen peroxide that acts as a natural antibacterial agent. It wards off any bacterial infection and kills any bacteria already present on/in the wound (4).

The flavonoids in honey have anti-inflammatory properties that help heal burns faster and reduce flaring.

3. May Help Reduce Bad Cholesterol

The flavonoids in honey may help prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDLs). When LDLs are oxidized, they form foam cells that could lead to atherosclerosis (the closing up of blood vessels). Atherosclerosis is one of the major reasons for heart attacks and strokes (5).

More information is needed to further understand how honey works in reducing bad cholesterol levels.

4. May Help Reduce Stroke Risk In Postmenopausal Women

Postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of developing chronic heart disease and stroke. As per a large study, consuming flavonoids may reduce this risk in postmenopausal women (6). While honey was not used in the study, the flavonoids it contains are likely to offer similar benefits. More research in this regard is warranted.

5. Honey May Treat Diabetes

Honey is a sweetener with a relatively low glycemic index. Hence, the release of energy from honey into the bloodstream is slower than that from granulated sugar. As a result, honey could help manage Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), an unfortunate cluster of diseases including obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes mellitus (7).

Some research suggests that honey may also reduce blood sugar levels and the risks associated with metabolic syndrome (7).

The low GI of honey may help reduce excess weight gain (7).

6. May Reduce Cough And Congestion

The antimicrobial properties of honey act against the infections that may cause cough. One teaspoon of honey ingested directly has been shown to do wonders in treating excessive cough in children. (8) The antioxidant properties of honey may help clear out lung congestions.

7. May Promote Skin Health

Honey also contains some calcium. This nutrient, when coupled with a healthy diet, can help maintain skin health. It also may help fight eczema and aid cell repair (9).

These are the important health benefits of honey. There are three major types of honey to choose from. We discuss further in the next section.

Types Of Honey: Which Honey Is Best For You

Honey has over 300 types in cultivation. But we have listed the most important of those below.

1. Manuka Honey: This honey is the product of worker bees feeding on the nectar from the Manuka bushes native to New Zealand. It is also called non-peroxide honey because it lacks the hydrogen peroxide commonly found in many honey varieties.

But even without the peroxide, manuka honey has a low pH and a high sugar content and may work against the growth of bacteria (2).

2. Acacia Honey: It has a sweet floral flavor and comes from the black locust tree, a member of the same family as the acacia tree. It is high in fructose and low on glucose, and is one of the safer sweeteners people with diabetes can enjoy. It also has an antioxidant compound called chrysin that has been studied to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer (10).

3. Sage Honey: It has a sweet, clover-like taste that is mild. It is produced when bees drain nectar from sage flowers. Although this honey does not contain a lot of fiber, it has been proven to help better digestion. Its prebiotic property increases the production of short-chain fatty acids and the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. This reduces fat absorption and may promote one’s overall health (11).

Home Remedies With Honey

1. For Better Skin

What you will need

  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • ⅓ tablespoon of pure cinnamon powder

Method

  1. Mix the honey and cinnamon powder.
  2. Apply a thick layer of the mixture to the body.
  3. Leave it on for 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse the skin and pat it dry.

This method works wonders for dry skin. It may also provide relief for people with eczema or psoriasis.

Honey may also work as a good hair conditioner (12). Here is how you can use it for the same.

2. For Well-Conditioned, Smooth, And Healthy Hair

What You Will Need

  • 2 parts honey
  • 1 part olive oil
  • A shower cap

Method

  1. Start by cleaning and dampening your hair.
  2. Mix the honey and olive oil and heat the mixture for about 20 seconds.
  3. Allow it to cool a bit (so that it is not too hot). Mix it once again.
  4. Apply the mixture starting from the root to the tip. Use your fingertips to massage it into the scalp.
  5. Cover your hair with a shower cap.
  6. Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  7. Gently rinse with a mild shampoo and pat your hair dry.

Using fingertips to massage the scalp increases blood flow to the roots and boosts the absorption of honey and olive oil. Covering your hair ensures that moisture stays intact.

Precautions While Using Honey

The most important precaution to bear in mind when using honey is pollen allergy. If you notice any allergic reaction, immediately take prophylactic measures and consult your doctor.

Another important precaution is to keep your sugar intake in check. Even if less than granulated sugar, honey still contains glucose. People with diabetes must keep in mind that honey might be harmful if consumed every day.

Conclusion

Raw honey is a natural sweetener with many benefits. For example, it may help reduce the risk of chronic heart disease and cancer. It could also help in weight management and increase the antioxidant content in your body.

It is available in different types and can be an amazing addition to your favorite dish any time of the day. However, those with diabetes or pollen allergy must practice caution before consuming honey every day.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What is the right time to take honey?

You can consume honey mixed with hot water any time of the day since it offers important benefits. You can drink honey water thrice a day.

Is drinking honey water good for the skin?

Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that help make the skin smooth.

Does warm honey water reduce belly fat?

No, it does not. However, honey may help slow down weight gain – thanks to its low glycemic index. More research is warranted in this regard.

Can we drink honey with hot water during pregnancy?

The folate in honey may help contribute to the good health of the mother and the growth and development of the child (13).

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5424551/
  2. Honey
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169640/nutrients
  3. The Potential Role of Honey and its Polyphenols in Preventing Heart Diseases: A Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3005390/
  4. Bioactives from Bee Products and Accompanying Extracellular Vesicles as Novel Bioactive Components for Wound Healin
    https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26123770
  5. Flavonoids inhibit the oxidative modification of low density lipoproteins by macrophages
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2344371/
  6. Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Postmenopausal Women
    https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a009738
  7. A Review on the Protective Effects of Honey against Metabolic Syndrome
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115915/
  8. Honey for treatment of cough in children
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264806/
  9. Role of Micronutrients in Skin Health and Function
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/
  10. Acacia honey and chrysin reduce proliferation of melanoma cells through alterations in cell cycle progression
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20811719/
  11. Honey as a Complementary Medicine
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5406168/
  12. Medicinal and cosmetic uses of Bee’s Honey – A review
    http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3611628/
  13. Folate In Pregnancy
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3519088/

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