Honey is a sweet liquid made by bees using the nectar from flowers. It is graded by color, with the clear, golden amber honey often fetching a higher retail price than the darker varieties.
The flavor of a particular type of honey will vary based on the types of flowers from which the nectar was harvested.
Both raw and pasteurized forms of honey are available. Raw honey is removed from the hive and bottled directly, and as such will contain trace amounts of yeast, wax, and pollen. Consuming local raw honey is believed to help with seasonal allergies, due to repeated exposure to the pollen in the area. Pasteurized honey has been heated and processed to remove impurities.
Honey has high levels of monosaccharides, fructose, and glucose, and it contains about 70 to 80 percent sugar, which provides its sweetness. Honey also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Modern medical science has managed to find uses for honey in chronic wound management and combating infection.
Benefits of Honey
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.
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.
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 all high-carb foods.
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.
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.
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% (18Trusted Source).
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The 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. 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 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.
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. 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.