Health Benefits of Honey

Find out what the research actually says about the health benefits of honey.

These days, honey is proving to be more than just a sweet treat to drizzle over yogurt, pancakes, or toast. It’s also good medicine. Of course, sometimes this nectar of the bees benefits are a bit overhyped. So here’s a quick recap on how honey can and can’t improve health.

Wound Healer: Yes.

A huge body of research confirms honey is a potent broad-spectrum antibacterial agent that can treat ulcers, burns, or any unhealed wound. Scientists speculate it could be honey’s acidity, it’s nutritional and antioxidant content, or a yet-to-be identified component that helps with healing.

Cough Suppressant: Yes.

Giving kids aged 2 or older two teaspoons of honey at bedtime helps reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep according to Penn State researchers. In fact, honey proves just as effective as the active ingredient (dextromethorphan) in over-the-counter cough suppressants. (One caveat: Due to the risk of infant botulism, it’s never a good idea to give honey to a child younger than age 1.)

Allergy Remedy: Probably not.

Locally made honey is supposed to fight seasonal allergies. But when a 2002 University of Connecticut study compared two types of honey and a placebo syrup (made to taste like honey) neither the honey, nor the placebo, helped relieve allergy symptoms. Experts suggest that seasonal allergies are more often triggered by wind-borne pollens, not the pollen spread by insects.

Healthier Sweetener for Diabetics: No.

Granulated sugar, brown sugar, or honey- they all impact blood sugar in much the same way. Any slight differences in calories or sweetness levels are not worth worrying over. As with all sugars, moderation is key.

 

Maureen Callahan, MS, RD
Jan, 2014
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