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Honey: 13 Health Benefits Of This Wonder Food

Since ages, honey has been used both as a medicine and food. Honey is valued as one of the oldest and natural sweeteners long before sugar became widely popular. Honey is very high in beneficial plant compounds and offers several health benefits.

Honey contains disease-fighting flavonoids and also both propolis and bee pollen, which are known to boost immunity and ward off infections [1] .

Raw honey is the purest, unpasteurized and unfiltered form of honey made by bees collected from the nectar of flowers. The honey which we consume today undergoes processing which is heated and filtered because it's gathered from the hive due to which some of the nutrients get lost in the process. So, raw honey has all the nutrition intact.

It contains minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes, which are not present in refined honey. You can pack a punch of antioxidants by consuming more than a teaspoon or two of raw honey.

Nutritional Value Of Honey

100 g of honey contains 17.10 g of water and 304 kcal energy. It also contains the following.

  • 0.30 g protein
  • 82.40 g carbohydrates
  • 0.2 total dietary fibre
  • 82.12 g sugar
  • 6 mg calcium
  • 0.42 mg iron
  • 2 mg magnesium
  • 4 mg phosphorus
  • 52 mg potassium
  • 4 mg sodium
  • 0.22 mg zinc
  • 0.5 mg vitamin C
  • 0.038 mg riboflavin
  • 0.121 mg niacin
  • 0.024 mg vitamin B6
  • 2 µg folate

Health Benefits Of Honey

1. Useful in weight management

Did you know that honey can help in shedding off those extra pounds? Replacing sugar with honey will prevent you from gaining weight, lower blood sugar levels and lower serum triglycerides [2] . Another study also found that raw honey has the ability to trigger hormones to suppress appetite, thereby preventing weight gain [3] .

Honey burns body fat even while you are sleeping so, having two teaspoons of honey before going to bed will do the trick.

2. Prevents chronic diseases

Honey contains important antioxidants, which includes phenols, enzymes and compounds like flavonoids and organic acids [4] . Antioxidants like polyphenols in honey have been linked to reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke and some types of cancer [5] . In addition, it also improves eye health and increases the disease-fighting antioxidants in the blood. The more honey you consume, the more antioxidants in your blood.

3. Treats cough

Honey works as an excellent cough medicine that helps to soothe your throat and prevent cough. A study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that children between the age group of 1 to 5 suffering with a night-time cough coughed less frequently when they had 2 teaspoons of honey 30 minutes before bed [6] , [7] . Another study showed the effectiveness of honey in treating cough is much better than common cough medications. It reduces the cough symptoms and helps you to sleep better at night [8] .

4. Can treat wounds

Honey is a natural antibiotic with antibacterial and antifungal properties that make honey ideal for treating wounds and burns. Honey reacts with the body's fluids to produce hydrogen peroxide, which creates an inhospitable environment for major species of bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

A study published in the British Journal of Surgery showed that one of the patients who suffered wounds and leg ulcers showed remarkable improvement after applying honey [9] . Honey can also treat diabetic foot ulcers, says another study [10] .

5. Boosts your energy

If you are feeling low in energy, consuming a tablespoon of honey will charge you up instantly. Honey is a quick energy-boosting food that will provide you with a boundless amount of energy due to the presence of fructose and glucose that enters the bloodstream, giving you a quick energy boost. Honey works as a great energy fuel which can be had before and after exercise.

6. Promotes heart health

Honey dilates the arteries in the heart which improves the blood flow to the heart. This prevents the formation of blood clots in the arteries which can lead to heart attack and strokes. Honey also lowers bad cholesterol which plays a vital role in preventing atherosclerosis caused by the build-up of fat in the arteries.

7. Reduces type 2 diabetes risk

Honey is known to reduce the risk factor for heart disease in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. It lowers triglycerides and inflammation in diabetic individuals [11] , [12] . Replacing sugar with honey will not increase your blood sugar levels, in fact, a study has shown that it will also lower triglycerides [13] . The combination of fructose and glucose in honey helps the body to regulate the blood sugar levels, thereby keeping your blood sugar levels stable.

8. Boosts memory

Honey has innumerable health benefits, one of which includes boosting memory and concentration [14] . It prevents metabolic stress and helps to calm the brain. According to a study, having a spoonful of honey daily boosts post-menopausal women's memory and they were more likely to have a better memory [15] . The presence of antioxidants in honey prevents cognitive decline and dementia.

9. Alleviates pollen allergies

Raw honey contains bee pollen which can fight pollen allergies when the body is exposed to it by triggering an immune response that makes the antibodies for fighting it. A study showed that having good amounts of honey can improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis which causes watery and itchy eyes, sneezing and other similar symptoms [16] .

10. Acts as a sleeping aid

If you are having trouble falling asleep, drink warm milk mixed with honey just before going to bed. For centuries, people have been drinking this concoction that helped them to get a sound sleep. Do you know why? Because honey releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood and happiness, which gets transformed into melatonin, a hormone that regulates the quality of sleep.

11. Treats diarrhoea

Honey has the ability to decrease the severity and duration of diarrhoea. It contains a significant amount of potassium and water which when had during the onset of diarrhoea will reduce the length of diarrhoea. According to a study, the antibacterial properties in honey blocks the action of pathogens that cause diarrhoea [17] . Manuka honey is a type of honey which is known to prevent bacteria Clostridium difficile from entering the body which causes diarrhoea and sickness, according to the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases.

12. Keeps teeth and gums healthy

Honey can keep your teeth and gums healthy by restricting the growth of plaque that attracts bacteria which further affects the teeth and gums leading to gum irritation, cavities and so on [18] . The wound-healing properties of honey treat gum infections like bleeding gums, gingivitis, etc. Research shows that manuka honey stops the growth of oral bacteria associated with gum disease and tooth decay [19] .

13. Treats skin disorders

Honey contains therapeutic, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that can reduce the growth of bacteria, reduce inflammation, soothe and hydrate the skin associated with skin disorders including eczema [20] , [21] . Manuka honey has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that control and eliminate the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, the most common bacteria prevalent in people with eczema.

Different Ways To Consume Honey

  • Take one tablespoon of honey and add a pinch of Himalayan salt to it in order to get better sleep.
  • You can add a dash of honey to your green tea to get additional benefits.
  • Add a teaspoon of honey instead of sugar to a glass of milk.
  • If you are making ginger and lemon tea, adding a teaspoon of honey will bring a big difference to the taste.
  • To sweeten your salad dressings and marinades, use honey.
  • Drizzle honey over breakfast cereals, granola, toast and pancakes.
  • Add honey in oatmeal and yogurt for a more natural sweetener.

When Is The Best Time To Have Honey?

Honey can be had at any time of the day, but if you want to have in-between meals, consume honey at least one hour before a meal and two to three hours after a meal.

View Article References
  1. [1] Samarghandian, S., Farkhondeh, T., & Samini, F. (2017). Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research.Pharmacognosy research,9(2), 121-127.
  2. [2] Nemoseck, T. M., Carmody, E. G., Furchner-Evanson, A., Gleason, M., Li, A., Potter, H., … Kern, M. (2011). Honey promotes lower weight gain, adiposity, and triglycerides than sucrose in rats. Nutrition Research, 31(1), 55-60.
  3. [3] Larson-Meyer, D. E., Willis, K. S., Willis, L. M., Austin, K. J., Hart, A. M., Breton, A. B., & Alexander, B. M. (2010). Effect of honey versus sucrose on appetite, appetite-regulating hormones, and postmeal thermogenesis.Journal of the American College of Nutrition,29(5), 482-493.
  4. [4] MATO, I., HUIDOBRO, J. F., SIMAL-LOZANO, J. E. S. Ú. S., & SANCHO, M. T. (2003). Significance of nonaromatic organic acids in honey.Journal of food protection,66(12), 2371-2376.
  5. [5] Khalil, M. I., & Sulaiman, S. A. (2010). The potential role of honey and its polyphenols in preventing heart diseases: a review.African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines : AJTCAM,7(4), 315-21.
  6. [6] Cohen, H. A., Rozen, J., Kristal, H., Laks, Y., Berkovitch, M., Uziel, Y., ... & Efrat, H. (2012). Effect of honey on nocturnal cough and sleep quality: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study.Pediatrics, peds-2011.
  7. [7] Goldman R. D. (2014). Honey for treatment of cough in children.Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien,60(12), 1107-1108, 1110.
  8. [8] Shadkam, M. N., Mozaffari-Khosravi, H., & Mozayan, M. R. (2010). A Comparison of the Effect of Honey, Dextromethorphan, and Diphenhydramine on Nightly Cough and Sleep Quality in Children and Their Parents. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(7), 787-793.
  9. [9] Efem, S. E. E. (1988). Clinical observations on the wound healing properties of honey. British Journal of Surgery, 75(7), 679-681.
  10. [10] Eddy, J. J., Gideonsen, M. D., & Mack, G. P. (2008). Practical considerations of using topical honey for neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers: a review.Wisconsin Medical Journal (WMJ),107(4), 187.
  11. [11] Bahrami, M., Ataie-Jafari, A., Hosseini, S., Foruzanfar, M. H., Rahmani, M., & Pajouhi, M. (2009). Effects of natural honey consumption in diabetic patients: an 8-week randomized clinical trial. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 60(7), 618-626.
  12. [12] Al-Waili, N. S. (2004). Natural Honey Lowers Plasma Glucose, C-Reactive Protein, Homocysteine, and Blood Lipids in Healthy, Diabetic, and Hyperlipidemic Subjects: Comparison with Dextrose and Sucrose. Journal of Medicinal Food, 7(1), 100-107.
  13. [13] Majid, M., Younis, M. A., Naveed, A. K., Shah, M. U., Azeem, Z., & Tirmizi, S. H. (2013). Effects of natural honey on blood glucose and lipid profile in young healthy Pakistani males.Journal of Ayub Medical College Abbottabad,25(3-4), 44-47.
  14. [14] Othman, Z., Zakaria, R., Hussain, N., Hassan, A., Shafin, N., Al-Rahbi, B., & Ahmad, A. H. (2015). Potential Role of Honey in Learning and Memory.Medical sciences (Basel, Switzerland),3(2), 3-15.
  15. [15] Othman, Z., Shafin, N., Zakaria, R., Hussain, N. H. N., & Mohammad, W. M. Z. W. (2011). Improvement in immediate memory after 16 weeks of tualang honey (Agro Mas) supplement in healthy postmenopausal women. Menopause, 18(11), 1219-1224.
  16. [16] Asha'ari, Z. A., Ahmad, M. Z., Din, W., Jihan, W. S., Hussin, C., Maraina, C., & Leman, W. I. (2013). Ingestion of honey improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: evidence from a randomized placebo-controlled trial in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.Annals of Saudi medicine,33(5), 469-475.
  17. [17] Obi, C. L., Ugoji, E. O., Edun, S. A., Lawal, S. F., & Anyiwo, C. E. (1994). The antibacterial effect of honey on diarrhoea causing bacterial agents isolated in Lagos, Nigeria.African journal of medicine and medical sciences,23(3), 257-260.
  18. [18] Atwa, A. D., AbuShahba, R. Y., Mostafa, M., & Hashem, M. I. (2014). Effect of honey in preventing gingivitis and dental caries in patients undergoing orthodontic treatment.The Saudi dental journal,26(3), 108-14.
  19. [19] Nayak, P. A., Nayak, U. A., & Mythili, R. (2010). Effect of Manuka honey, chlorhexidine gluconate and xylitol on the clinical levels of dental plaque.Contemporary clinical dentistry,1(4), 214-217.
  20. [20] McLoone, P., Oluwadun, A., Warnock, M., & Fyfe, L. (2016). Honey: A Therapeutic Agent for Disorders of the Skin.Central Asian journal of global health,5(1), 241.
  21. [21] McLoone, P., Warnock, M., & Fyfe, L. (2016). Honey: A realistic antimicrobial for disorders of the skin.Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection,49(2), 161-167.
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