9 Benefits of Honey, How to Consume & Contraindications

Updated on February 2023

Honey can provide many benefits has it contains nutritive, antioxidant and therapeutic properties that help to prevent early aging and regulate triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Honey can decrease the risk for fat accumulation in the arteries and reduce the risk for the development of cardiac disease.

Because it is rich in antioxidants, the honey helps to decrease blood pressure. It contains antimicrobial properties to fight fungal, viral and bacterial infections, and can relieve sore throats and coughing. It also often used as a natural sweetener. 

Even with all of these health benefits, honey should be consumed in moderation, as it is rich in calories and sugar. It can lead to weight gain and fluctuating blood sugar levels, especially when consumed in excess.  

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Main benefits

Substituting sugar for honey in some foods can help to keep blood sugar levels stable and can offer many health benefits. Some benefits of honey include:

1. Increasing natural defenses 

The compounds present in honey boast antioxidant powder, which help to protect the body. Among all its benefits, some of its most stand-out advantages are its ability to reduce heart attacks and strokes, improve eye health and help with the treatment of some cancers, like kidney cancer, by interfering with cancer cell multiplication. 

2. Improving heart health

Honey can provide the heart many health benefits, as it increases blood circulation and reduces the risk for clots. This process helps to decrease blood pressure, which can ward off cardiac disease. 

3. Improving cholesterol and decreasing triglycerides 

Honey is a great resource for managing high cholesterol, as it naturally decreases "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and increases "good" cholesterol (HDL). Learn more about the different types of cholesterol and how it is tested.

Honey can decrease triglyceride levels because it can be used as a sugar substitute. Generally, diets that are rich in refined sugar and carbohydrates lead to increased triglyceride levels, which increase the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

4. Fighting bacteria and fungi in wounds 

Honey contains properties that reduce wound healing time. These properties can sterilize wounds and reduce pain, odors and size, making honey a great way to efficiently heal the wound, even better than other remedies. 

It can be a great option to treat diabetic ulcers on the feet, as it can fight germs and help with tissue regeneration. Honey can also help to heal oral and genital herpes lesions, as it can decrease itching. Oftentimes, it can work better than some ointments found in the pharmacy.

It can also be used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria in ulcers and wounds following surgery and burns. 

5. Relieving a sore throat, asthma and coughing

Honey reduces throat and lung inflammation, and can be beneficial to treat colds and flus.

It can additionally be used to improve sleep during illness. 2 tablespoons of honey at bedtime can trigger more saliva production. This lubricates the throat and protects it from irritation that causes coughing. Many times, it is safer and more effective then some cough syrups. Learn more about homemade cough syrups you can make to relieve productive or dry coughs.

6. Improving gut health 

Honey is a very potent prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria naturally found in the intestines. It can be used to treat digestive problems, like diarrhea, and can be used to aid the treatment of Helicobacter pylori, which causes gastric ulcers. 

Another tea that can help to treat indigestion is honey with cinnamon. These two ingredients are natural ways to improve overall digestion. Check out the other health benefits that cinnamon can offer.

7. Helping with memory and anxiety

Substituting sugar with honey appears to be associated with improved memory and decreased anxiety levels. Studies show that honey can be used to improve memory in menopausal and post-menopausal women. Read about other herbs for anxiety that you can use to make tea. 

8. Treating hemorrhoids 

Honey contains antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and healing properties that reduce bleeding and relieve pain and itching from hemorrhoids. To achieve this effect, mix honey with olive oil and bee wax and apply to the affected area. This can be applied after performing this home sitz baths for hemorrhoids

9. Combating obesity

Due to its properties, honey helps to control sugar and fat levels in the blood. This can help to reduce inflammatory processes in the body and help with weight maintenance. 

Nutritional information

The following table outlines the nutritional information for every 100 g and every 1 tablespoon (6 g) of honey: 

Component 100 g of honey 1 tablespoon of honey (6 g) 
Calories 309 cal 18.6 cal
Carbohydrates 84 g 5 g
Calcium 10.2 mg 0.6 mg
Vitamin C 0.7 mg 0 mg
Magnesium 5.5 mg 0.3 mg
Iron 0.3 mg 0 mg
Potassium 99.3 mg 6 mg
Zinc 0.2 mg 0 mg

Sodium

6 mg 0.4 mg
Glucose 31 g 1.86 g
Fructose 38 g 2.28 g

It is important to remember that honey is not recommended for small children under 3, as there is a possibility that their underdeveloped intestines are incapable of blocking out small microorganisms naturally present in honey, which can cause infections. 

How to consume

Honey should be consumed in small quantities, as it is high in calories. You should not consume more than 2 teaspoons of honey per day. It can be added to juices, honey, cookies, cakes and other recipes. 

You should opt for pure honey when possible that is organically cultivated, as processed honey sold in supermarkets contains other ingredients, which can detract from its natural health benefits. 

Contraindications for use

Even if honey can offer many health benefits, there are some restrictions to keep in mind. It is contraindicated for the following patient populations: 

  • Children under 2 years of age: up until the second year of age, children’s digestive systems are not fully developed. Consuming honey which can pose a high risk for botulism infections, due to the bacteria present in it.
  • Diabetics: Although honey has many benefits in comparison to white sugar,  diabetics should avoid consuming honey, as it contains simple sugars that increase blood sugar levels. 
  • History of allergies: Patients with an allergy to honey may present with symptoms like skin redness, itching throughout the body and throat, swollen lips, and tearing. Therefore, honey and any food containing honey should be avoided altogether in this population.
  • Fructose intolerance: Because fructose in present in honey, people with a fructose intolerance should avoid eating it. 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: Some people with this disease can experience indigestion, excess gas and diarrhea after consuming honey. It is  rich in fructose, which can trigger these symptoms. In these cases, honey consumption should be avoided.

If these considerations do not apply to you, and given honey can provide many benefits, this food can easily be inserted into your daily diet.