7 BENEFITS OF RAW HONEY: NATURE'S NATURAL SWEETENER

Wild Flower Honey
Honey has been used for food and medicine since antiquity. In Ayurveda, honey is considered ‘the best potentiating agent because it is derived from various substances’.


But why and how is it beneficial to us? Are there any science-backed benefits to it or are its touted benefits simply hearsay? Read on to find out.

Honey is a natural food made by bees and aphids. Of all the bee species, honey bees make and store the most amount of honey in their beehives. Therefore, their honey is what is widely sold commercially.

Honey storing honey in a honeycomb


Honey is sweet, sticky and viscous. Its colour ranges from light to deep brown. The colour, consistency, chemical composition and underlying notes vary depending on the bee species, geographic region, floral origin and season it is made and collected in.

In general, honey comprises natural sugars—fructose and glucose being the major components—vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Honey can be regular, natural, pure and raw. The most effective and best form of honey is raw honey because it is not processed, adulterated or heated. As a result, its nutrients remain intact.

Benefits of Raw Honey 

1. Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress, also known as free-radical damage—a biological phenomenon that is responsible for many human diseases. These diseases include cancer, neurological disorders, hypertension and diabetes.

Antioxidants in Honey

Honey contains a variety of antioxidants in the form of vitamins, phenolic compounds and some enzymes (glucose oxidase, catalase, etc). Recently, scientists found that its antioxidant activity arises from the latter such as phenolic acids and flavonoids. To date, a total of 7 types of phenolic acids and 20 types of flavonoids have been detected in honey from different floral sources. 

2. Nutritious Natural Sweetener
As previously mentioned, honey is more than just a sweetener. In addition to natural sugars, it comprises 27 amino acids, 12 minerals and various vitamins. Since pollen is the source of amino acids in honey, raw honey has more amino acids than any other type of honey. 

When it comes to vitamins, ascorbic acid i.e. vitamin C is the predominant vitamin in all types of honey. The mean content of vitamin C has been indicated to be around 2 mg/100 g.

Vitamins in Honey

 Ascorbic acid is an unstable form of vitamin C that is sensitive to light and heat. Hence, the amount of vitamin C decreases when honey is subjected to pasteurisation. Different B complex vitamins are also present in honey, such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), nicotinic acid (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), biotin (B8) and folic acid (B9). In some varieties of honey, vitamin K has also been detected.

Minerals Present in Honey

Mineral
Average content (ppm)
Mineral
Average content (ppm)
Potassium
40–1350
Phosphorus
29–119
Chlorine
52–427
Magnesium
2–564
Sulphur
15–100
Silicon
9–41
Sodium
3–237
Iron
0.4–224
Calcium
5–218
Zinc
0.2–74
Manganese
0.3–4
 
 

 

In terms of minerals, though present in a variety compared to other sweeteners, their measurement is but in ppm (parts per million), which is not solely sufficient to satisfy dietary needs.

3. Weight control
According to a 2020 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, honey intake prevents excessive weight gain.

A controlled animal study showed that rats fed with a diet containing natural honey displayed significantly reduced weight gain only after six weeks compared to those fed other sugars.

Weight loss

In one experiment, researchers reported that rats given a diet containing 20% carbohydrate from clover honey developed markedly lower weight gain as well as significantly reduced fat pad weight than rats given liquid sucrose. 

In another study conducted on 55 obese or overweight people, results after 30 days showed that honey caused a mild reduction in body weight by 1.3% and body fat by 1.1%.

4. Blood sugar regulation
That diabetics cannot consume honey is a myth that has existed for a long time. This is, in part, due to the high amount of carbohydrates in its chemical makeup

Fructose content of honey varies from 21 to 43% and the fructose/glucose ratio from 0.4 to 1.6 or even higher. Although fructose is the sweetest naturally occurring sugar, it has a glycemic index of 19 while glucose has a glycemic index of 100 and sucrose (refined sugar) with 60.

When compared with dextrose and sucrose, honey caused a significantly lower elevation in plasma glucose level (PGL).

Old lady checking her glucose

In fact, one study showed that consumption of honey reduced fasting blood glucose by 4.3%.

5. Heart health 
Honey has the capacity to ameliorate cardiovascular risk factors. One study showed that honey reduced total cholesterol (3%), LDL-C (5.8), triacylglycerole (11%) and increased HDL-C (3.3%) in subjects with normal values. In patients with elevated variables, honey caused reduction in total cholesterol by 3.3%, LDL-C by 4.3% and triacylglycerole by 19%. 

Honey is good for heart health

6. Digestive health
Honey promotes digestive health by tackling bacteria that cause digestive disorders, boosting the growth of probiotics and reducing inflammation. 

It has bactericidal effects against many pathogens of the digestive system including Salmonella, Shigella and pathogenic E.coli.

Helicobacter pylori is a microbe that causes gastritis and peptic ulcers. Studies show that a 20% solution of honey was found to be effective in inhibiting this microbe; even in strains resistant to other antimicrobial agents. 

In a clinical study, administering 30 ml of honey three times a day, along with a bland diet, was found to be an effective remedy in 66% patients and provided relief to a further 17%, while anaemia was managed in more than 50% of the patients (SN Salem, 1981).

It also shortened the duration of bacterial gastroenteritis-induced diarrhea in babies and children aged 8 days to 11 years when used in WHO prescribed ORS solutions.

Good Digestion

Apart from ameliorating gastroenteritis, honey also shows pre-biotic effects. Probiotics are microbes that improve gut health. They actively assist in human biological functions including breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, producing vitamins and fending off bad bacteria. That’s just to name a few.

Pre-biotics promote the growth of such good bacteria. As a pre-biotic, honey encourages the growth of probiotics, namely, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. This is mainly due to the action of oligosaccharides, especially oligosaccharide panose.

7. Wound healing
Different types of honey possess different medicinal values and effects on wound healing. In the wound healing process, honey increases wound contraction, re-epithelialisation and decreases scar formation. 

Chronic wounds, ulcers and burns are some of the types of wounds honey has shown prominent therapeutic effects on.

Wound healing process

It has also been shown that honey reduces skin inflammation, rosacea, oedema and exudation. Honey is cost effective and safe, and thus, has been encouraged for the use in clinical practice according to many clinical trials.

How to Make the Most of Honey

Traditional quick home remedies

  • Honey and ginger for sore throat: Mix a tablespoon of honey with a pinch of dry ginger powder.
  • Honey and lemon for digestive issues: Squeeze half of a small lemon and mix the juice with a tablespoon of honey to remedy indigestion.
  • Honey and tea for cough: Mix a teaspoon of honey in herbal tea or green tea.
Honey with tea
  • Honey water with lemon for weight loss: Mix a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a glass of warm water. It is important to keep in mind that if you want to lose weight, you need to take additional measures like exercising and eating a well-balanced meal in a limited portion.
  • Honey for mouth ulcers: Apply a small amount of honey directly on the ulcers.
  • Honey and curd for dry, itchy and inflamed skin: Mix a teaspoon of honey, curd and olive oil, and apply it to the affected area. Rinse it off after 15–20 minutes.

Honey in your Diet

  • Use honey as a natural sweetener for your tea, coffee, oatmeal and cereal.
  • Drizzle it on your pancakes, waffles, cakes and pastries.
  • Enjoy it with toast or plain bread.
  • Use it in your marinades and salad dressings.
  • Substitute honey for sugar in other recipes.
Drizzling honey on toast

Honey sold today is largely processed. It is adulterated with high fructose corn syrup or other sugar syrups, subjected to filtration and pasteurisation, as well as flavouring agents and aromatics, all to improve the shelf-life and appearance of honey.

It is imperative to stay clear of this kind of honey as it can have the opposite effect of the pure, raw, organic variety.

Comment down below if you found this article helpful. Let us know how you like to use honey.


1 comment


  • Chitragandha8045

    I always only heard that honey was healthy, but it’s great to know exactly why and how.
    Nice and informative.


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