I’ve always loved honey. Honey on toast, on top of biscuits or rice cakes, or in a sandwich with peanut butter, it doesn’t matter, its all delicious. But is honey actually good for you? Or is it just another unhealthy, sweet product?
When it comes to honey, there’s both good news and bad news.
The honey debate – is it just another form of unhealthy sugar?
Honey is made up largely of sugar, and much of it is in the form of fructose. Eating a lot of fructose is not good for you, and it can contribute to a number of health issues.
This is why there is such a stand against products loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, and why these products should generally be avoided. But since honey also contains fructose, is it also on the do not eat list?
In general, sweets and sugar should be avoided. And yes, honey does fall under this category, so it shouldn’t be eaten in large quantities. But if you need a treat and are choosing between refined sugar and honey, honey definitely has its benefits.
The thing about honey is that it isn’t just sugar. Honey is sugar packaged up with a whole lot of other compounds that can benefit health, including antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. It can contain vitamin C, niacin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Honey has been reported to be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anticancer, and more, which can help prevent and treat a variety of conditions.[1,2-4] Studies have found that honey can:
• Reduce blood sugar responses compared to other forms of sugar [2,5,6]
• Protect from heart disease through strong antioxidant activity, which may help in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides [5,7-11]
• Prevent gastrointestinal infections and ulcers [2,12]
• Treat allergies [13,14]
• Cure coughs [15,16]
Benefits of honey that don’t require eating it
If you stay away from sugar completely and don’t choose to eat honey, there’s still a place for it on your pantry shelf. Topical applications of honey can help treat a variety of conditions, from burns to cuts.
Choose raw, local honey for the most benefit
When buying honey, look for raw, unprocessed honey. This will give you the most antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Specific kinds, like manuka honey and tualang honey, seem to have especially beneficial effects.
I prefer to buy a large jar from my local farmer’s market; a big jar will last me a long time, and I like knowing it comes from local bees.
Natural Health Advisory Institute contributing editor Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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