Why You Should Eat Honey for Good Health
Who could resist a tasty honey-glazed treat? There’s some great science behind why you should incorporate delicious honey into your diet for a better immune system and more.
Honey provides some of the richest antioxidants you could put in your body, all enveloped in a sweet taste that goes great in countless recipes for a bonus health boost. With strong immune systems becoming more and more important these days, honey can be considered a building block for a tight defense against disease!
In our previous articles, we embarked on fact-checking and myth-busting journeys surrounding traditional health hacks such as apple cider vinegar [link] and cold showers [link]. This time we’ll stick closer to the nutritional side of healthy eating and whet our appetites with the bacteria-busting capabilities of nature’s favorite dish. Let’s dip right in!
How is Honey Made?
We all know honey comes from bees…but how do bees do it?
Admittedly, it isn’t a pretty process. Honeybees leave their hives in search of flowers ripe with pollen to collect. After storing as much pollen as they can by ingesting it and rubbing it on their legs and abdomen (inadvertently spilling some on other plants as they go, contributing to the cycle of cross-pollination), the bees return to the beehive and begin chewing and regurgitating the loot. Multiple bees pitch into this process until the pollen transforms into the nectar we know and love as honey. Once the honey is finished, the bees store it inside their honeycombs after drying it out with their wings. If under the care of beekeepers, the bees are sedated with smoke in order to remove their collection.
Your spoonful of honey is mostly made up of the sugars fructose and glucose, which create its signature sweetness. Interestingly, the taste and appearance of honey are largely dependent on the flowers available for the bees to collect pollen from. The famous store-bought clover honey, for instance, is manufactured by bees from clover flowers and bears a very light appearance to go with its subtler taste. Dark honey, on the other hand, is made from buckwheat flowers and tastes much richer. Manuka honey is another type of honey that is largely used as medical dressings.
What’s the difference between raw honey and pasteurized honey, you might be wondering? Pasteurized honey is processed to improve its shelf life and create a more distinct taste, while raw honey is taken directly from the hive. As you might guess, raw honey contains more nutrients and antioxidants than pasteurized honey, which sees the best nutritional aspects minimized or removed during the pasteurization process.
Is Honey Good for You?
The benefits of honey are as brilliant as its golden shine, with numerous advantages to offer your health in addition to its delightful taste.
Even the occasional teaspoon of honey is exceedingly good for a healthy heart—one review described its cardiovascular capabilities, stating it can improve blood pressure, metabolism, heartbeat, and heart disease protection. By supporting your heart, honey also contains antiaging properties and paves the way for a healthier immune system while mildly facilitating weight loss.
Honey is also a “cure-all” food option and cough suppressant, helping to treat eye diseases, asthma, sore throats, fatigue, tuberculosis, hepatitis, constipation, eczema, ulcer wounds, and many more ailments. This is largely due to the presence of two powerful antioxidants found within raw honey: polyphenols (plant compounds that aid your digestion and help prevent diabetes and certain cancers) and flavonoids (anti-inflammatory substances). Darker varieties of honey will tend to have more antioxidants. When applied directly to injuries, honey also carries wound healing properties.
Honey also contains an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide, a tough compound that keeps certain harmful bacteria from growing. When bacteria can’t grow, they die off and are neutralized as a threat to your immune system. That gives honey extra antibacterial properties in addition to its other benefits.
What About Blood Sugar?
There is also evidence to suggest that honey is better for managing blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes than regular sugar and can even act as an effective treatment for diabetic wounds. This is all once again thanks to its strong antioxidant properties, which reduce inflammation and blood sugar despite the honey itself raising blood sugar. For those with type 2 diabetes fasting their blood sugar levels, honey can be an especially potent tool.
Nevertheless, too much of a good thing can become a problem. Honey is mostly sugar and still behaves as sugar after you’ve consumed it. Be mindful of your average blood sugar levels, and keep honey away from children 1-year-old or younger, as it can lead to serious complications like infant botulism. Consult your dietitian or doctor before adding honey to your diet!
Is Honey Good for Allergies?
Another possible benefit of honey? It has the potential to improve your seasonal allergies given enough time—though the data is still on the table.
Despite the lack of scientific research, one trial held in 2011 involved 44 patients with diagnosed birch pollen allergies eating special birch pollen honey over the fall and winter months. When next spring rolled around, the patients reported significantly better control of their allergies, possibly due to the gradual exposure of the allergen to their bodies. In essence, they were naturally vaccinating themselves through the honey. The researchers involved in the study stated these findings should be considered preliminary.
Should you eat honey to combat allergies? Though further testing is required, the other health benefits of honey could warrant giving it a try anyway if you are able. Be sure to buy organic, raw, or unfiltered honey that is local to your region. That will ensure you are consuming small amounts of the local allergens that might cause you trouble. Give it a few months and see if it has any impact on your allergies.
And the best part? You can use honey in almost any diet and dish as a sweetener, so get creative! Even a tablespoon of honey can radically transform your meal.
Sticky Hands? Clean Them the Right Way!
It doesn’t take very much handling of honey before your fingers get sticky. Even the caps of honey bottles can be coated with the sweet substance! Sometimes sinks are hard to find at your springtime picnic, however. Hand soap might be out of the question.
Don’t fret; Muse Health offers a high-quality brand sanitizer fit for any occasion. Take a look at our Fragrance-free hand sanitizer to keep handy when you’re in a sticky situation at home or abroad!