Honey Health Benefits
Why the Future Is Sweet

What do scientific studies say about honey health benefits? You may be surprised to learn the future of your health has never been sweeter.

For something so delicious and sweet, the health benefits of honey may seem too good to be true.

Imagine: it is sweeter than sugar, but moderate consumption of honey does not cause weight gain.

Plus, being a powerful antioxidant, it has all the goodness of fruits and vegetables.

And, being antibacterial and antifungal, it can be applied to the skin to remove wrinkles and pimples!

Surely, the future of your health has never been sweeter?

Okay, okay, okay, now you are going to ask me: Where is the scientific proof? Well, you will find them below. It is truly a delicious treat!

Honey Health Benefits #1:
Contain Rich Nutrition

So, what exactly does honey contain that make it such a healthy beverage? Its chemical composition consists of:

  • Complex sugars

  • Complex carbohydrates

  • Vitamins and minerals

  • Amino Acids

  • Antioxidants

Read Honey Nutrition to find out what they do. Among them, the most important is amino acids, as scientists have found that the level of amino acids correlate most closely to honey's antioxidant power.

Honey Health Benefits #2:
Offer Antioxidant Protection

Honey contains antioxidants, powerful compounds which fight free radicals and reverse aging.

Free radicals are everywhere - in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and even the sunlight we love so much. Every moment, the body absorbs oxygen and turns it into energy in a process called oxidation. This process also releases free radicals.

Antioxidants slow down aging by neutralizing these free radicals. They perform healing at the deepest cellular level, allowing honey health benefits to manifest in a myriad of ways.

A 2003 study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concluded that honey had a "mild protective effect".

A 2004 study conducted by the University of California concluded that honey contains as many antioxidants as spinach, apples, oranges or strawberries.

Honey Antioxidant Studies

Honey Health Benefits #3:
Calorie and Weight Loss

Two common questions I get asked are: How does honey compare to other sweeteners? Since honey is a type of sugar and contains calories, doesn't it cause weight gain?

This is a valid concern. Honey is calorie-rich and contains simple sugars such as glucose and fructose. In fact, it contains more calories than table sugar.

According to Dr. David Baer of the USDA Agriculture Research Service, our body tolerates honey better compared table sugar. Eating honey is better for people with diabetic conditions as it is less likely to cause blood sugar spike.

Another 2004 study conducted by the University of California found that eating 4 to 10 tablespoons of buckwheat honey per day for one month did not cause weight gain.

Calories in Honey - Fattening Sweetener or Weight Loss?

Honey Health Benefits #4:
Cure Children Night Cough

Honey’s soothing qualities may help relieve sore throats and nighttime coughs in children.

Since over-the-counter medicine may be harmful to children, a 2007 study by a Penn State College of Medicine research team found that honey may offer parents an effective and safe alternative.

The study found that taking buckwheat honey at bedtime was more effective for curing cough and sleep difficulty in children than dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications.

Honey did a better job reducing the severity, frequency and bothersome nature of nighttime cough from upper respiratory infection than dextromethorphan or no treatment.

Amazingly, honey also improved the sleep quality of both the coughing child and the child’s parents. Dextromethorphan was not significantly better at alleviating symptoms than no treatment.

These findings are especially notable since an FDA advisory board recently recommended that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines not be given to children less than 6 years old because of their lack of effectiveness and potential for side effects.

Honey Health Benefits #5:
Cure Insomnia?

While the above studies have found evidence of honey promoting restful sleep in coughing children and their parents, no study has really been conducted to investigate if eating honey at bedtime will promote higher quality sleep for people suffering from insomnia.

According to Michael McInnes of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, eating a tablespoon or two of honey at bedtime can improve sleep quality without causing weight gain. Using prior studies, he postulated why eating honey may promote restorative sleep.

You can read about his findings at Honey and Insomnia - Cure Sleep Disorders?

Honey Health Benefits #6:
Beautify Skin

We all know that honey is one of nature's most delicious treats, but did you know that there are many topical uses for honey as well? There are at least four reasons why it is so effective in beautifying your skin:

  • It is a well known antibacterial and antifungal agent, and helps disinfect and speed the healing process in wounds, scrapes and burns.

  • It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which are wonderful beauty aid that nourish the skin.

  • It contains powerful antioxidants which fight free radicals and reverse aging.

  • It is rich and thick, making it an effective moisturizer. Like other humectants, honey binds moisture to the skin and helps it stay hydrated.

Learn the five different ways you can use honey at home to beautify your skin at Honey Skin Care - Tips for Mask and Wrinkles Removal.

Honey Health Benefits #7:
Promote Wounds Healing

Still not impressed by honey's healing effects on skin? Here is another. Honey is one of Nature's most effective wound dressings.

A 2007 study conducted by Dr. Shona Blair from the University of Sydney tested the antimicrobial capability of honey using problematic pathogens such as

  • Antibiotic resistant micro-organisms

  • Anaerobes (60 species)s

  • Fungi (Candida and Tinea)

  • bio-films

She concluded that “honey dressings should be used as a ‘first choice’, not as a ‘last resort’”. It is effective at low concentrations against a broad spectrum of bacteria, fungi, bio-film producing, and resistant organisms. It is cost effective and “has no side effects!”

However, she warned that the type of honey used is important as antimicrobial properties can be 100 X greater from one type to the next.

Her paper entitled, The Grossly Underutilized Anti-microbial was presented to the 2008 First International Symposium on Honey and Human Health on 17 January 2008.

Besides its antimicrobial properties, honey is a powerful wound healer because:

  • It topically numbs pain.

  • It is osmotic and attracts water.  Since bacteria are mostly made of water, it is sucked dry in the presence of honey.  Bacteria are further inhibited by honey because honey produces hydrogen peroxide and is acidic.

  • It activates the immune response by providing glucose for the white blood cells.

  • It speeds up the healing process.  It creates a moist environment by drawing serum up through the skin tissues that helps “moist scab” formation. 

Honey also reduces inflammation, helps shed dead tissue, and stimulates the development of new blood cells.  Honey's antiseptic qualities also help prevent infections from moving to other wounds. 

Honey Health Benefits #8:
Cure Acne Conditions

Given honey's reputation as a wound healer, perhaps it can be used to treat acne or pimples?

Pimples are small skin lesions or inflammations commonly arising from clogged or infected pores. They are not caused by the foods you eat (such as chocolate, soft drinks or greasy foods) or by dirt (blackheads are caused by a pigment, not dirt). The common culprit is - bacteria.

A 2008 study conducted by University of Amsterdam investigated the antibacterial capability of medical grade honey (Revamil). The researchers concluded that honey "is a promising topical antimicrobial agent for prevention or treatment of infections, including those caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria".

You can read about the study at Honey and Acne Study A Natural Pimples Cure?

Honey Health Benefits #9:
Aid Digestion

Eating honey is good for your stomach and digestion!

Drs. Tobias Olofsson and Alejandra Vasquez from Lund University in Sweden showed evidence from their research that different varietals of honey possess a large amount of friendly bacteria: viable lactobacilli (6 species) and bifidobacteria (4 species), which may explain the "mysterious therapeutic properties of honey."

Honey also contains complex carbohydrates which are prebiotic i.e. these complex carbohydrates are non digestible. Consuming them encourages the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria in your body

Also, honey contains large amount of enzymes. All these means eating honey will aid digestion and increase energy.

Their paper entitled, Lactobacillus: The Missing Link in Honey’s Enigma was presented to the 2008 First International Symposium on Honey and Human Health on 17 January 2008.

Honey Health Benefits #10:
Improve Sport Performance

Studies at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory found that honey may be one of the most effective forms of carbohydrate to eat just prior to exercise.

Honey eaten before exercise is digested easily and released into the system at a steady rate for use by the body.

The study involved a group of 39 weight-trained athletes, both male and female. Subjects underwent an intensive weight-lifting workout and then immediately consumed a protein supplement blended with either sugar, maltodextrin or honey as the carbohydrate source.

The honey group maintained optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following the workout. In addition, muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration (carbohydrates stored in muscle) was favorable in those individuals consuming the honey-protein combination.

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Paul IM, Beiler J, McMonagle A, Shaffer ML, Duda L, Berlin CM Jr (2007). Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Dec;161(12):1140-6.

R A Cooper, P C Molan, and K G Harding (1999). Antibacterial activity of honey against strains of Staphylococcus aureus from infected wounds. J R Soc Med. 1999 June; 92(6): 283–285.

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