✓ Evidence Based

7 Health Benefits of Honey

The sweet substance of honey is a long-time favorite for so many everyday additions in the kitchen. It is one of the most appreciated natural food products since ancient times and for good reason. Because honey is so high in sugar, containing 80 percent sugar and 20 percent water, many stay away from it due to blood sugar spikes. It’s crucial for those who need to monitor their sugar levels to keep that in mind.

Honey has a slightly less glycemic index than sugar alone coming in at 58 when sugar is 60. Although it is less, it may not be enough if you have type 2 diabetes and take insulin. Although, some experts believe it is ok when it’s a small amount and a part of a healthy, balanced diet. The sugars in honey come from simple sugars, glucose, and fructose, and it is a source of carbohydrates. The main difference between table sugar and honey is that honey is full of nutritional benefits, even though it can spike blood sugar just like sugar.

Health Benefits of Honey

Honey contains an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and even antioxidants. Adding honey to a healthy diet in small quantities can improve your health, but potentially only if you are not at risk of dangerous blood sugar spikes. Check out the many health benefits of honey below.

1. It May Help Improve Anxiety

Raw honey is an excellent addition to many diets, especially if you are trying to manage your mental health and anxiety. That is because raw honey contains anticonvulsant and antidepressant effects by enhancing the oxidative status of the brain. One study even proved it was effective at improving metabolic disease in rats, along with assisting with neurological enhancements. (1, 2). 

While many may think everyone needs over-the-counter or prescription medication for anxiety, that is not always the case. Anxiety can arise from any number of factors and oftentimes, diet is overlooked. Diet can be a powerful way to combat anxiety. There is an abundance of research on nutrition as a metabolic treatment for anxiety (3). That of course doesn’t mean simply adding honey can combat anxiety alone, but combined with a healthy balanced diet, it is possible. The nutrients in honey produce a calming effect, especially if you add some to your daily routine. The nutrients in honey include minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Honey also contains ascorbic acid, pantothenic acid, niacin, and riboflavin to further relax.

Honey can even have neurological benefits beyond helping combat anxiety and depression. Improved memory and focus are just some things that honey can also help with (4). Add some honey to your daily routine, even if it just means adding it to your nighttime tea, and see if you can reap some of the health benefits. 

2. It May Improve Heart Health

Heart disease is the number one chronic disease in the United States, and most cases are preventable with interventions in diet, lifestyle, and exercise. The cardiovascular disease makes up nearly 31 percent of all global deaths. Stress is a major contributor to heart disease and doctor visits in general. Did you know that over 70 percent of doctor visits are due to a stress-related reason? 

Adding more foods that are high in antioxidants and nutrients is an essential way to make sure you are keeping your heart healthy and strong. Honey may be a heart-healthy food substance to add because it includes tons of nutrients and minerals the heart craves. Honey is rich in the antioxidants phenolic acids and flavonoids, which help support better health overall. Some studies show adding more honey can regulate cholesterol levels, although more research is necessary. The polyphenols in honey may have some heart-protective benefits for preventing heart disease (5) (6). 

Do you have a long history of heart disease or any at all? Look at your diet. See where you can add more heart-healthy foods to your routine, and maybe honey is a good one for you to include.

3. It May Protects Against Cancer

Cancer is another chronic disease that puts a burden on the global healthcare system, but what can you do to prevent it? Although cancer has genetic factors, the damage is often self-inflicted by unhealthy lifestyles. Certainly, you can’t just take teaspoons of honey and hope for the best, but there are studies showing honey could play a role in protecting against cancer as well (7). 

Honey has a long-standing basis for being an immune booster. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory food substance with antimicrobial properties. That is why it is often thought of as natural cancer “vaccine.” Many researchers spread the importance of honey as a promoter for healing chronic ulcers and wounds as well (8), (9).

 

The reason honey may have anti-cancer benefits is due to its high amount of antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and mineral profile. Because of the natural sugar content of honey, many think it is not the anti-cancer agent it claims to be, but more research is growing. It may even be especially helpful to promote in countries or areas where cancer treatment is limited or not available. Honey may prove to be a valuable medicinal approach to cancer prevention in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

4. It May Improve Gut Health

Honey can even contribute to an improved digestive system. Poor gut health is one of the major reasons for inflammation and inflammatory diseases. Poor gut health can sometimes mean increased intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut.’ That means bacteria and toxins are able to leak through the digestive system. Due to its high vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant profile, honey can help improve acid reflux or GERD as well. It can especially help with acid reflux because it can reduce inflammation by restraining nitric oxide and prostaglandin production. It is also extremely useful at healing the gut lining and GERD because of its high antimicrobial properties (10). 

Along with conventional therapy, honey can be a useful tool for further health improvements. There is some evidence that using honey may help to improve gut microflora and reduce the buildup of toxins in mice as well (11). Although more research is necessary, there is some promising evidence that adding honey to a healthy diet may help to improve gut health, acid reflux, and even GERD.

5. It May Help with Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis is a common condition, affecting millions of people worldwide. Honey, and especially bee pollen, may have some positive effects on those who suffer from seasonal allergies. There is even some research that suggests other allergies like anaphylaxis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis (AD) may improve with honey supplementation (12)

Because honey is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and powerful antioxidant food, some animal studies show that it may help lower the inflammatory response set off by these common allergies. Many studies show that honey can act as an exceptional agent to help prevent and even show unique improvements for those with allergic conditions. 

6. It Can Help to Soothe a Sore Throat and Prevent Colds

Along with the many impressive health benefits listed above, honey has long been a go-to favorite for the common cold and even to help prevent or lessen the severity of a sore throat. The potent nutritional qualities of honey make it an accessible and beneficial treatment method and even prevention tool for cold and sore throats.

Honey has natural antibacterial properties that make it a perfect solution when you are feeling under the weather. As honey works to reduce inflammation, it can work fast at lowering pain when it comes to swollen lymph nodes and warding off the common cold. Be sure to keep some raw honey around, especially during the common cold season.

7. It May Help Improve Sleep Quality

Many people do not get the recommended amount of quality sleep every night, between seven to nine hours. There are many ways to combat sleep problems, but one you may not have thought of is honey. 

Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally released at night when it’s time for bed. Honey helps the brain release melatonin faster so bedtime feels a little easier. Melatonin production gets blocked for many reasons, whether that means staring at the blue light on screens for too long, watching TV, or doing high-stress tasks close to bedtime. The natural sugar in honey spikes insulin levels and then releases tryptophan which turns into serotonin (13). Then, serotonin then turns into the production of melatonin. Sleep supplements can be a go-to resource for many to get quality sleep, like magnesium, melatonin supplements, and even valerian or chamomile. While many of these can be very effective, if you are still struggling to get to sleep, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere, to your diet. Perhaps it’s time to aim for something like honey.

How to Add More Honey to Your Diet?

Honey is one of the easiest food agents to add to your routine. Whether you want to add the sweet substance into your favorite drink or even meal, there are all kinds of ways to incorporate it. Check out the list below to see how you can start adding more honey to your day.

Get More Honey in Your Day By:

  • Add honey to your favorite tea (Bonus for green tea to add even more antioxidants)
  • Use honey as a sweetener in your smoothies
  • Swap plain sugar for honey in your coffee
  • Add a spoonful of honey to warm lemon water as a way to hydrate and energize in the morning.
  • Make your own salad dressing with delicious honey. You can try lemon juice, honey, and even olive oil.
  • Prepare your favorite sweet treats or desserts with honey instead
  • Enjoy a teaspoon plain. 

Where can you start adding more honey to your daily routine? Start small and see what you do regularly that makes the most sense for you.

Conclusion

Honey is a great staple food substance that can be very versatile in the kitchen. The health benefits of honey range from improving the heart, skin, and digestive system, and even preventing many inflammatory diseases from starting in the body. Honey is a great, cheap, and effective way to improve many areas of health.

From improving gut health to sleep quality and even reducing acid reflux, there are a few areas of the body that honey can’t help. If you need to watch your sugar intake, always monitor honey in your diet. But honey is a better choice than traditional table sugar due to its potential antioxidant, mineral, and vitamin profile. When it comes to overall health, don’t forget about how beneficial honey can be to the body.