With all the bad news surrounding sugar as of late, most people know to avoid it at all costs. But, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that we do need some type of sweetener to enhance the taste of many of our foods.
While one route you can go is adding artificial sweeteners to your dishes, many people don’t feel so comfortable with this routine. Just the name alone says all you need to know: artificial. Why would you put something that is not natural in your body? Clearly this can’t be a good thing. While research has supposedly deemed these sweeteners safe, many people still feel that they do experience unwanted side effects when using them.
There is one sweetener however that is much safer and has an array of health benefits to know about. That sweetener? Raw Honey.
While honey still does contain calories and will provide the body with glucose, therefore it does need to be eaten in moderation, it’s one of the best naturally occurring sweeteners that you can be using.
So let’s walk you through some of the key benefits that honey has to offer so you can see why this is one food you may want to start incorporating a little more often. There’s so much more you can do with honey than just adding a little to a slice of toast or in your afternoon tea.
Before We Start…
Before we dive into the benefits, one thing you need to know right off the bat is that any old honey won’t due here. You want to only be getting raw honey. This is honey that is unfiltered and unpasteurized, therefore it comes straight from the bees. Most honey that’s sold commercially today is pasteurized, which robs this honey of much of the nutrition that it provides. If you opt for this type of honey, you really aren’t getting much more benefit that you would from just consuming sugar (which we’ve already identified is not a good idea).
So make sure you shop wisely. If it doesn’t say raw honey, don’t buy it!
When you purchase raw honey, you’ll take in approximately 64 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates, and receive the micronutrients of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and fluoride.
Superior Control Over Body Weight
We aren’t going to sit here and tell you that honey has magical weight loss powers and if you eat it, you’ll lose weight. That is far from the case. In fact, eat too much of it and you will gain weight. Remember, it is still very calorie dense and is still a pure sweetener.
This said, if you opt for honey over sugar, you will see better weight control. This is because consuming honey helps you better manage your blood sugar levels as you don’t get that typical blood sugar spike that you would after eating glucose. This is in part due to the fact that honey is partly fructose, not just glucose. It’s only glucose that raises blood sugar levels, so you don’t see that spike.
This also means you’ll be at a lower risk for insulin resistance and even diabetes. Honey can be an okay sweetener for diabetics to use in small doses.
Additionally, research suggests that honey may also help to lower serum triglyceride levels, so it may just help give your heart a boost as well (1).
Combats Seasonal Allergies
If you are someone who’s often taken down by the seasonal allergies that accompany every spring, you’re likely seeking sweet relief. If what you suffer from here is a pollen allergy, the great news is honey may give you protection. Because raw honey contains bee pollen, this helps you gain natural allergy relief while also strengthening your overall immunity as well.
As you continually eat the honey over time, your body is exposed to small doses of the pollen from the various flowers, which then allows your body to build up immunity to this. That way, when spring hits and pollen season is in full swing, you aren’t affected nearly as much.
Note that this process doesn’t happen overnight. One slice of toast smothered in honey before allergy season isn’t going to protect you. You need to be eating small doses of honey regularly for months prior in order to create this effect. So get busy finding ways to add honey to your diet plan.
Provides Fast Energy
Many athletes swear by using honey as a quick and easy natural source of energy for the body. Perhaps you’ve even seen an endurance athlete you’ve been around carrying a little packet of honey so you’ve seen this fact in action.
Honey contains 80% natural sugars and then the remainder is a mix of water and natural vitamins, minerals and pollen. This makes it great for delivering a boost of energy when you need it most.
What’s also unique about honey is that because it’s a mix of glucose and fructose, this really provides superior energizing benefits. The glucose will move into the muscle tissues to help power contractions there, but the fructose will actually help to restore liver glycogen, which helps you stay energized when glycogen levels are low.
So whether you just feel like you’re running on empty or you are about to embark in some serious endurance exercise training, honey is a perfect choice.
A Wealth Of Antioxidants
When considering adding anything to your diet plan, it’s important to not only consider the weight loss benefits it may provide but also think about how it’s going to impact your health as well.
Here is where honey really shines. Honey offers a very strong dose of antioxidants, which will help to combat free radical damage, which can lead to oxidation and disease.
On top of this, these antioxidants will also help to strengthen the immune system, which will then give you better protection against various diseases and illnesses. Research published by the BioMed Research International journal noted that when subjects consumed four tablespoons of honey per day for about one month, they showed a much higher blood level of polyphenols, which are important disease fighting compounds than those who didn’t consume the honey (2).
On top of this, honey is also a rich source of a particular antioxidant called pinocembrin, which has been shown in some research to possibly help to combat cancer. It appears to help induce apoptosis (cell death) of cancerous cells, killing them off before they begin to impact you (3).
Serves As A Sleep Enhancer
Struggling to fall asleep at night? If so, honey may be a great solution. Many people toss and turn at night, suffering poor quality sleep when they finally do fall asleep. This is very unfortunate because sleep is one of those things that is absolutely imperative to proper health and daily functioning.
Honey may provide release a few different ways. First, it helps to restore the liver’s glycogen supply and this helps to prevent middle of the night hunger. Ever wake up at night and feel like you have a pit in your stomach? This is often because your liver glycogen levels, which have been fueling the body during the overnight fast, are now depleted. Restoring this level before going to bed helps ensure that you have enough to last you until morning.
The second way in which honey may help you fall asleep more easily is because it contains melatonin, which is the natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland that triggers the brain to know it’s time to sleep. Melatonin is responsible for regulating your sleep/wake cycle (also known as your circadian rhythm), so when it becomes night, you become drowsy.
In today’s times however, with our bright computer screens, TV screens, and constant stimulation, the body’s natural release of melatonin may not be quite what it used to be. As a result, many of us lay awake in bed, unable to sleep.
Honey gives your brain that jump start to trigger it to know it’s getting late and you start feeling sleepy.
Helps To Heal Wounds
If you have a wound of any sort, whether you cut yourself while cutting your steak or you scraped your knee by accident, honey may help give you the boost of healing that you need.
Note however, to reap maximum healing benefits, you aren’t actually looking to ingest honey, but rather, you want to put it directly on the wound itself.
Honey helps to provide natural antibacterial and wound healing benefits, so this helps keep the area nice and clean while promoting cell regeneration.
Additionally, honey is also great for helping to produce hydrogen peroxide in the body, which helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Burn patients are also often treated with honey, applied directly to the problem area every 24 to 48 hours. While obviously if you have a very severe burn, seek medical treatment, don’t just apply honey, but if it’s a very minor burn, a honey wrap may just do the trick.
Manage Your Common Cold
No one likes being sick. You’re tired, miserable, and you have a sore throat and hacking cough that just won’t let up. When you’re ill, you want nothing but to get better – fast.
Honey may help provide you some relief. Raw honey has been shown to be a great way to help treat coughs, in fact, possibly even better than over the counter cough syrups. So if you’re someone who simply can’t stand the taste of cough syrup, doesn’t want the drowsy side effects they can cause, or is looking for a cheaper option, honey may just do the trick.
A single serving of honey can help to dramatically reduce mucus secretion and lower the number of coughing incidents in those who are ill (4). The typical recommended dose here is to take a half to two teaspoons of honey at bedtime. This is a great remedy for children as well who may be more reluctant to take cough syrup and who can’t swallow pills. Just note that you should never give honey to any child under the age of one under any circumstances.
So there you have the many benefits that honey has to offer. As you can see, it’s one food that you don’t want to do without. Do keep in mind that since you are buying raw honey, you should not heat it above 95 degrees F, so avoid cooking with it and instead, add it to foods that are already cooked.
Some great ways to add honey into your day include:
§ Try mixing some into a bowl of cooked oatmeal for added sweetness
§ Add it to plain Greek yogurt – it’s far healthier than any sweetener they are adding in.
§ Serve it over freshly baked bread
§ Mix it with some olive oil and other ingredients for a delicious and naturally sweet salad dressing.
§ Mix it with plain mustard to create a delicious honey mustard dip.
§ Spread it over some cooked protein pancakes rather than using maple syrup
§ Add it to coffee. It’s not just for tea!
§ Use it to create a marinade for raw vegetables. Just be sure this is a dish that won’t be cooked.
Look for little ways to add honey to your daily diet and it’s almost certain you’ll find a way or two to incorporate it in.
Frequently Asked Questions About Honey
What is the benefits of honey?
There are many benefits of honey including antioxidant support, cold treatment, wound healing, and blood sugar regulation. It’s also an excellent source of nutrition including iron, calcium, phosphate, and potassium.
Is eating honey good for you?
Yes, in moderation, honey is an excellent part of the diet and is the best natural sweetener that you could use.
Can you get diabetes from honey?
You can get diabetes from overeating any carbohydrate source – or any food for that matter if it causes you to gain enough weight and become insulin resistant. When eating in
moderation, honey may actually help you prevent getting diabetes and assist those who are already suffering.
Is honey good for weight loss?
If you have the choice between adding sugar or honey to your weight loss diet, definitely do go for honey. While honey still contains calories which can actually cause weight gain if you eat enough of it, it’s better than plain sugar for controlling your body weight.
Can we take honey at night?
Yes! Honey can actually help promote a good night’s sleep, so a small serving is actually recommended prior to going to bed.
Is honey good for insomnia?
It is! Honey will cause the production of melatonin in the body, which naturally helps you feel sleepier and may induce sleep faster. If you struggle to fall asleep, try adding a tablespoon of honey to some chamomile tea and see if that doesn’t help.
1. Nemoseck, Tricia M., et al. “Honey promotes lower weight gain, adiposity, and triglycerides than sucrose in rats.” Nutrition Research 31.1 (2011): 55-60.
2. Jaganathan, Saravana Kumar, and Mahitosh Mandal. “Antiproliferative effects of honey and of its polyphenols: a review.” BioMed Research International 2009 (2009).
3. Rasul, Azhar, et al. “Pinocembrin: a novel natural compound with versatile pharmacological and biological activities.” BioMed research international 2013 (2013).
4. Oduwole, Olabisi, et al. “Honey for acute cough in children.” Evidence‐Based Child Health: A Cochrane Review Journal 9.2 (2014): 401-444.