Honey is known in many ways, including a romantic nickname, the life’s work of bees, and an iconic plastic bottle in the shape of a bear. The health benefits of honey are historic, with artwork depicting honey harvesting dating back to about 8000 B.C.
Made by bees from the nectar of flowers, honey is composed of glucose and fructose (two simple sugars), amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. There are around 320 varieties of honey that come in different colors, scents, and flavors.
Whether it’s being purchased to satisfy a sweet tooth or applied as a salve, honey is a big industry with many applications. Along with being delicious, there are many health benefits of honey. Keep reading to learn what they are!
Honey is a natural sweetener and a healthier alternative to many other forms of sugar. Consider adding honey instead of refined sugars to tea, coffee, smoothies, yogurt, granola, etc. when you’re craving something sweet.
Keep in mind that being a natural sweetener doesn’t necessarily make it healthy, just healthier than other options; it’s still an added sugar and should be used in moderation.
Hot water with honey and lemon is commonly regarded as both a catch-all health drink and a cold remedy. The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics both endorse honey as a natural cough remedy.
Honey is specifically recommended for people with upper respiratory infections and acute nighttime cough, and studies suggest that eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, and labiatae honey are the most efficient varieties for using as a cough suppressant — so don’t rely on any old plastic bear.
Honey naturally contains high levels of antioxidants, which have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, as well as potentially acting as an anti-cancer agent. Consuming antioxidants is healthy because they fight oxidative stress and inflammation, which can lead to many cancers and heart disease.
One lab trial has shown that Tualang honey can disrupt breast, cervical, and skin cancer cells; however, there is not yet enough human research to confidently confirm this.
When it comes to antioxidants, as with many other health properties, dark honey packs more of a punch than light honey due to its water content. Additionally, raw honey retains more natural antioxidants than pasteurized honey — and it is considered just as safe to eat, with the exception of children under 1 year of age, who should not consume any type of honey.
There is evidence to suggest that ingesting honey can alleviate gastrointestinal tract conditions, such as diarrhea associated with gastroenteritis. It can also be a functional part of oral rehydration therapy, which is a type of fluid replacement used to prevent and treat dehydration, especially due to diarrhea.
As you can see, the health benefits of honey are numerous! So, the next time you swirl a spoonful of the natural sweetener into a cup or tea or add a drizzle to a piece of gluten-free toast, you can feel a little less guilty knowing you’re making a healthier choice.
Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
About the author
Meredith is a writer and brand strategist with expertise in trends forecasting and pop culture. Based in Manhattan, she loves taking her dog to picnics in the park, trying new fitness classes, and hunting for her next favorite plant-focused restaurant. She enjoys reading books, going to concerts, and anything that gives her an excuse to dress up. Meredith is always looking for recommendations for easy recipes, cute workout clothes, and effective sleep podcasts.
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