Health Benefits of Honey

Published 5/16/13

What is Honey?

Honey is a natural sweetener produced by bees that is composed of two primary sugars, levulose and dextrose. Honey is already predigested by bees, which means that the sugar does not need to be digested in the human body and is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, providing a quick boost of energy.

Honey vs. Sugar

VITAMINS & MINERALS: While table sugar does not contain any minerals or vitamins, honey is full of unexpected goodness. Honey has potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, cooper, iron, magnesium, manganese, sodium, and zinc. Although honey won’t provide any large amount of these vitamins and minerals, it is still beneficial to include honey in your diet.

ANTIOXIDANTS: Just like with vitamins and minerals, table sugar does not contain any antioxidants while honey is full of them. Honey contains antioxidants such as thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. A 2009 study concluded that natural honey has an antioxidant capacity of at least 20X higher than the antioxidant capacity of refined sugar, corn syrup or agave nectar.

CALORIES: One tablespoon of table sugar includes about 45 calories while one tablespoon of honey contains roughly 65 calories. Although honey does have a higher number of calories, people typically use less honey to provide the same amount of sweetness that sugar provides. So in the end one is probably consuming fewer calories from honey than they would from table sugars.

Honey and Allergies

One of the biggest myths regarding honey is that consuming local honey will help build immunity to local allergies. The idea is that local honey will act as a vaccine, providing a minimal amount of pollen without setting off allergies in a way to help build immunity (similar to a flu vaccine). Although the concept sounds plausible since local honey will include the same local pollen that sets off allergies, research has not been able to provide consistent data that shows any impact on allergy intensity. There really is no downfall to consuming honey in moderation, so if you do suffer from terrible allergies it won’t harm you to try local honey as a vaccine but don’t go into it expecting any major relief from honey.

Is Honey Good For You?

With a moderate amount of consumption, honey is great for the human body. And when compared to artificial sweeteners honey is an excellent thing for your body. Honey does have high calorie content so be careful of that. But with the healthy balance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it is a wise decision to include honey as part of any diet.  


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