6 Health Benefits of Honey
It adds a sweet touch to your favorite foods, but the benefits of honey extend way beyond taste.
Of all the natural home remedies your parents or grandparents made you try as kid—whether it was aloe vera or oatmeal or ginger—our guess is that honey was your favorite. Not only does it taste good, but it has nourishing and healing properties. But what are the benefits of honey?
First, a little history: the earliest record of beekeeping dates to 2,500 B.C. near Cairo. Ancient Egyptians used honey as a sweetener, a healing medicine, and embalming fluid, as well as religious purposes from sealing sarcophagi to making candles.
7 Benefits of Honey
We still use honey today as a sweetener as well as an ingredient in beauty products, candles, and fragrances. But, most important, we use it as a natural source of nutrition.
According to the USDA, one tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, 0.06 grams of protein, 17.25 grams of sugar, 17.3 grams of carbohydrates, one milligram of calcium, and 0.09 milligrams of iron.
Looking at honey’s nutritional content—it contains almost no protein, vitamins, or nutrients—this might have you wondering how it would benefit anyone. Instead, consider what honey does have that might make you want to keep it in stock.
#1. Honey is filled with antioxidants.
One of the most of important benefits of honey stems from its antioxidant content. These include phenols and flavonoids, which can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in your body while helping to protect against stroke, heart disease, and cancer.
How to use: You’d have to consume at least one teaspoon of honey a day to receive the benefits of its antioxidants, but don’t forget that honey is considered an “added sugar.” The American Heart Association recommends limiting “added sugar” to six teaspoons or less each day, which equals about one-and-a-half tablespoons of honey per day.
HONEY’S HEALING PROPERTIES
For more on the healing abilities of honey, see The Old Farmer’s Almanac post, Honey Health Benefits.
#2. Honey’s healthy for your heart.
Not only is honey is antioxidant-rich, but it may also contribute to better cholesterol levels and help protect against cardiovascular disease. According to one study, honey caused a 5.8 percent reduction in LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and a 3.3 percent increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol in patients when compared to sugar. A 2020 study found honey to have “cardioprotective” effects.
#3. It can help heal burns, wounds, and other skin conditions.
In addition to being rich in antioxidants, honey also has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities that accelerate wound and burn healing by providing a moist environment and increasing the flow of nutrients to the affected site. Honey’s also effective at killing pathogens such as E. coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can both cause skin infections.
Honey from the manuka plant specifically has enhanced antimicrobial and wound healing properties. For more information, check out “Do You Know About These Manuka Honey Uses?”
How to use: Apply a thick layer of medicinal or raw honey on the affected area and wrap with appropriate dressing if necessary. Raw honey is not the typical jar found in the grocery store, this type of honey is not pasteurized and straight from the honeycomb (typically just filtered to clean out debris).
If your wound is severe, consult your doctor before applying the honey. Look for natural creams, lotions, and shampoos that contain honey to curb dandruff and itchy skin, and to treat acne, add a couple of teaspoons of honey to your favorite homemade face mask or scrub. Click here for some ideas.
THE BEST HONEY?
Wondering where the “best” honey comes from? It’s a subjective question, as Countryside Daily explains in a post called Judging the Best Honey in the World.
The same site also offers these interesting posts:
#4. Honey can curb your cough.
There’s a reason why honey is often a main ingredient in cough drops and syrups. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, honey has been shown to reduce cough frequency and improve the quality of sleep in children with the common cold. Studies also show that honey can be just as (if not more than) effective than over-the-counter cough medicines. For more information, check out “4 Natural Cough Remedies: How to Cure Your Winter Cough.”
How to use: Consume one teaspoon of honey every few hours to curb your cough. You can also mix it into a warm beverage, preferably fresh ginger tea, which is also good at curbing coughs and soothing sore throats.
#5. It can boost athletic performance.
Honey is high in carbohydrates and low glycemic index, making it a good supplement before or after exercise, according to one study. Honey can also provide amino acids for muscle repair and fluid for rehydration. All of these benefits can help athletes perform better for longer periods of time.
How to use: Try this homemade electrolyte drink made with honey, citrus juice, water, and salt during tough workout sessions.
#6. Honey can ease digestive problems.
Free radicals from damaging the cells that line the digestive tract, which can cause acid reflux. Honey may be able to reduce inflammation in the esophagus and provide a coating for its mucous membrane. This can also improve heartburn and other GERD-related symptoms.
Honey is commonly used as a home remedy for upset stomach and diarrhea, but keep in mind that it is also high in FODMAPs and, therefore, can possibly make symptoms worse for irritable bowel syndrome sufferers.
How to use: To calm heartburn caused by acid reflux, eat one teaspoon of honey or mix it into a glass of warm water. Four tablespoons of honey should be mixed into a cup of hot water to relieve symptoms of diarrhea in adults. Honey, however, should not be given to children under the age of 1.
One the most of important benefits of honey lies in its antioxidants.
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