Honey is a viscous liquid that bees make from the nectar of plants. Appreciated worldwide for its sweetness and deep flavor, it is used in many foods and recipes.
The smell, color and taste of honey vary depending on the type of flowers from which it is obtained, so there are countless varieties.
Honey has a number of potential health benefits and plays a role in many home remedies and alternative medicine treatments.
The nutritional value.
One tablespoon (20 grams) of honey contains:
- calories: 61
- Fat: 0 grams
- protein: 0 grams
- carbohydrates: 17 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Riboflavin: 1% of the Recommended Daily Value (RDV)
- Copper: 1% of the VDR
Honey is essentially pure sugar, with no fat and only trace amounts of protein and fiber.
It contains small amounts of certain nutrients, but most people generally don’t consume enough honey to make it an important dietary source of vitamins and minerals.
However, be aware that honey is rich in health-promoting plant compounds known as polyphenols.
Properties of honey.
Rich in antioxidants.
High-quality, minimally processed, unheated fresh honey contains many bioactive plant compounds and important antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids.
Darker varieties tend to offer more antioxidants than lighter ones.
Antioxidants help neutralize reactive oxygen species in the body, which can build up in cells and cause damage. This damage can contribute to conditions such as premature aging, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Therefore, many of the health benefits of honey are attributed to its antioxidant content.
Unique health benefits of honey.
Better for blood sugar than regular sugar.
When it comes to blood sugar control, honey may offer some advantages over regular sugar.
Although honey raises blood sugar like other types of sugar, the antioxidants it contains may help protect against metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Researchers have found that honey can increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone that reduces inflammation and improves blood sugar regulation.
There is also evidence that consuming honey daily may improve fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
However, although honey may be slightly better than refined sugar for people with diabetes, it should be consumed in moderation.
It is also important to know that some types of honey can be diluted with regular syrup. Although honey adulteration is illegal in most countries, it is still a widespread problem.
It can improve heart health.
Honey can also help prevent heart disease.
According to one study, honey can help lower blood pressure, improve blood fat levels, regulate heart rhythm and prevent healthy cell death, which can improve heart health and function.
An observational study in over 4,500 people over the age of 40 linked moderate honey consumption to a lower risk of high blood pressure in women.
Additionally, a study on rats showed that honey helped protect the heart from oxidative stress.
Additionally, raw honey often contains propolis, a type of resin that bees produce from sap-producing trees and similar plants. Propolis can improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Yet no long-term human studies on honey and heart health are available. More research is needed to better understand the effects of honey on heart health.
Promotes the healing of burns and wounds.
Topical treatment with honey has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt. This practice is still common today.
A review of 26 studies on honey and wound care found that it is most effective in healing partial-thickness burns and wounds that have become infected after surgery.
Honey is also an effective treatment for diabetes-related foot ulcers, which are serious complications that can lead to amputation.
A study of people with diabetes-related foot ulcers reported a 43.3% success rate with honey as a wound treatment. In another study, topical honey healed an impressive 97% of participants’ diabetes-related ulcers.
Researchers believe the healing powers of honey come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Plus, it can help treat other skin conditions, such as psoriasis and herpes lesions.
Manuka honey is considered particularly effective in treating burns. However, if you have a severe burn, you should seek medical attention immediately.
The most effective cough and cold treatment.
Cough is a common problem in children with upper respiratory tract infections. These infections can affect the sleep and quality of life of children and parents.
However, the usual cough medicines are not always effective and can have side effects. Interestingly, honey can be a good alternative, with evidence pointing to it being an effective treatment option.
A review of several studies on honey and coughs in children found that honey appears to be more effective than diphenhydramine for cough symptoms. It can also help reduce the duration of coughing.
A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford demonstrates the effectiveness of honey as a treatment for upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). The study suggests that antibiotics are ineffective for these types of minor coughs and colds, and that honey offers superior symptomatic relief based on the evidence gathered to date.
However, honey should never be given to children under one year of age due to the risk of botulism.
Uses of honey.
Honey is easy to add to your diet.
To get a little antioxidant boost from honey, you can use it like you normally would with sugar. It is excellent for sweetening natural yoghurt, coffee or tea. You can also use it for cooking and baking.
As a home remedy, it can be applied directly to minor burns or wounds, or taken by mouth for coughs.
Remember that you should not give honey to children under one year of age due to the risk of botulism.
Also, remember that honey is a type of sugar, so consuming it will cause your blood sugar level to rise.
Additionally, consuming large amounts of honey, especially consistently over a long period of time, may contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Therefore, limit yourself to low to moderate consumption.