Honey has been used as both a food and medicine for hundreds of years. Raw honey has been used as one of the best remedies to treat several health problems. When honey is used instead of refined sugar, it becomes healthier due to 100% empty calories.
Raw honey has several health benefits and medical uses. It is also used as a treatment of wounds. Most of the honey that is available in grocery stores is pasteurized. It is performed by giving high heat to kill unwanted yeast, enhance its color and texture, and increase the shelf life. But, do you know that many beneficial nutrients get destroyed in the process?
Due to this reason, raw honey contains healthful elements that are not present in processed honey. Numerous health benefits of raw honey come directly from healthful bee pollen and plenty of antioxidants.
What is raw honey?
Honey is a golden liquid that is made by honeybees. It is stored in small, hexagonal cups that are called honeycomb. The honey that comes directly from the honeycomb is called raw honey. This honey contains bee pollen, beeswax and may also contain some parts of dead bees.
This raw honey is passed through a filter that will work in removing all impurities, generally the remains of dead bees. This honey is still safe to eat. Then, it undergoes a pasteurization process in which manufacturers heat the honey to kill the yeast cells. This process affects its taste, makes it transparent, and also increases its shelf life.
Pasteurization affects the number of nutrients present in raw honey. During ancient times, people used raw honey, but today, many people prefer using pasteurized honey.
The healthful properties of honey include antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, wound-healing effects, and dietary antioxidants.
Raw honey also contains bee propolis, a glue-like substance used by bees to hold a hive together. But, pasteurized honey does not include the same levels of bee propolis as it is found in raw honey. Therefore, raw honey has highly effective anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties than regular honey.
Health Benefits of Honey
Honey is a combination of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. Moreover, it also holds anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. Taking one spoon of honey a day can make a significant difference to your health. Most of these health benefits are precise to raw or unpasteurized honey.
#1. Contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Just like ordinary sugar, honey is also considered as the added sugar. But it does not work like other types of sweeteners. Honey contains vitamins and minerals, and also flavonoids and phenolic acids that are antioxidants found in honey.
Do you know that there are more than 300 types of honey around the world? Each type of honey has a different floral source. The color, flavor, and nutrients contained depend on each source. If you have a darker shade of honey, it means honey has more antioxidants.
One of the best benefits of honey is giving nutrients. But, keep in mind that these nutrients are just 1% of the honey pot.
#2. Antioxidant effects
In various researches, it has been found that some of the main health benefits of raw honey derive from its antioxidant content. Raw honey contains a variety of compounds that serve as antioxidants. These can be phytochemicals, flavonoids, etc.
Antioxidants help in reducing oxidative stress in the body by washing away free radicals. Some experts have linked this type of stress with various chronic health conditions, such as different types of cancers. If you eat an antioxidant-rich diet, it means you can reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Some experts say that the pasteurization process of raw honey results in reducing the number of antioxidants in the honey. It is also said that pasteurized honey does not contain the same benefits as raw honey. It is believed that heating any food reduces its antioxidant content.
#3. Provide nutrition
Honey contains a variety of nutrients that make it one of the healthy additions to your diet. The amount and type of nutrition found in raw honey depends on the country and environment it is created. It also depends on the type of flowers from where the bees collect their nectar. No matter what the condition is, honey still contains healthy compounds, like amino acids, vitamins, and amino acids.
One tablespoon of raw honey contains 65 calories and 17g of sugar. These values may be different depending on the brands and batches.
Raw honey contains small amounts of various vitamins and minerals. These include niacin, calcium, potassium, manganese, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
It contains natural sugar, where more than half of this sugar is fructose. In some research, the fructose content present in honey makes it a healthier option than ordinary sugar. Some research shows that taking honey instead of sugar can bring a protective effect against diabetes. It also helps in improving cholesterol levels.
If we talk about the health benefits of honey on diabetic people, we can say that people with a sugar-restricted diet may choose to consume honey to prevent changes in their blood sugar levels. But, make sure to eat honey in moderation.
#4. Antibacterial action
Being a natural antibacterial agent, honey can be quite helpful in killing harmful bacteria and fungi. Due to the hydrogen peroxide, glucose oxidase, and low pH level in honey, it does not allow yeast or bacteria to develop in any form.
Honey can also be used to cleanse wounds. The raw honey is beneficial for killing common pathogens, such as Escherichia coli or E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus or S. aureus, and Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori. Thus, honey is helpful in killing bacteria causing food poisoning, skin infections, and stomach ulcers.
#5. Relieve coughs
In some studies, it has been proved that honey is as effective as taking over-the-counter cough drugs. It is true that some of the cough drugs are not safe for kids, but honey can be the best option for kids over one year of age.
If your child is suffering from nighttime cough, honey can serve as an effective home remedy to reduce the kid’s severity and frequency of nighttime cough. In one study, it is found that a mixture of one glass of milk and one teaspoon of honey give relief to kids and work as effectively as OTC drugs.
To get a quick relief from cough as one of the effective health benefits of raw honey, simply take one teaspoon of raw honey and make sure not to take any food or liquid after it.
#6. Heal wounds
Do you know that raw honey is used in various medicines to treat wounds? Yes, it is true. One of the health benefits of honey is healing wounds. Honey is quite an effective germ killer and also helps significantly in tissue regeneration.
Studies show that raw honey also helps in improving the healing time and is an excellent home remedy to reduce infection. At the same time, you must also know that the honey used in hospitals is medical-grade, which means this honey is inspected and sterile for medication purposes. Never try to use honey bought from a store to treat your cuts.
#7. Treat diarrhea
When we talk about the health benefits of raw honey, we can’t miss adding it as a useful remedy for treating diarrhea. Raw honey also helps in giving relief from the symptoms of diarrhea.
In one study, some children with acute gastroenteritis were given raw honey, while some were given OTC medicines. It was found that children who received honey resulted in a better recovery than those who were given OTC medicines. The children who had taken honey noticed fewer bowel movements and also recovered faster from their health condition.
You can take one teaspoon of raw honey to treat your mild diarrhea. Also, make sure not to take too much honey as it can make your condition worse due to excess sugar.
#8. Protect brain
Some experts say that due to having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, one of the best benefits of honey is to protect the brain. The raw honey contains compounds that help in fighting inflammation in the hippocampus, which is one part of the brain memory.
In one study on rats, it was found that rats who had consumed honey were protected against brain damage affected by exposure to lead.
#9. Improve cholesterol levels
If you have high LDL cholesterol levels, it means you are more prone to heart disease. In this type of cholesterol, the fatty produced in your arteries can result in heart attack and strokes.
As per nearly seven studies, it was proved that taking honey can help in improving cholesterol levels. The regular intake of raw honey may also result in reducing total LDL cholesterol, along with improving HDL cholesterol.
In one study, some patients were given honey, while some had taken ordinary sugar. People with honey were reported to cause a 6% reduction in LDL cholesterol, while a 4% increase was reported in HDL cholesterol. It also resulted in a modest weight loss of 1.3%.
#10. Soothe a sore throat
It might happen that when you had a cold, your grandmother suggested you honey. Yes, it is right. Among various health benefits of honey, it also helps in soothing the symptoms of cold, like a sore throat. You can add honey to hot tea with lemon to ease your cold.
Honey is also used as a cough suppressant. The research has reported that honey is as effective as some of the common over-the-counter cough medications. Just take 1-2 teaspoons of honey directly for quick results.
#11. Lower Triglycerides
The increment of blood triglycerides is also one of the risk factors for heart disease. They are also linked to insulin resistance, which is a major cause of type 2 diabetes. It usually increases by taking sugar and refined carbs.
Some studies have linked the consumption of honey with lowering triglycerides levels. You can get the best results when you substitute sugar with honey.
#12. Fight harmful bacteria
Another one of the effective health benefits of honey is its ability to fight against various types of bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli. Due to the antibacterial properties of honey, it is widely used as a remedy to treat a variety of bacterial and fungal infections.
The honey contains low water content and a little acidity, which makes it capable enough to not give a chance to stay harmful microbes in your body.
#13. Promote oral health
You may be surprised to know that honey has the ability to fight against gingivitis and periodontal diseases. In one study, the regular consumption of raw honey helps in reducing plaque and gum bleeding to a great extent as compared to sugar-free chewing gum.
It is also true that sugary substances are not suitable for oral health. But the natural antibacterial properties of honey are highly powerful to fight against the causes of cavities and gum disease.
#14. Improve digestive health
If you are looking for the health benefits of raw honey, you will be amazed to find that raw honey is also beneficial in nurturing the good bacteria that are living in your gut. Honey can be one of the best home remedies to treat indigestion and ulcers. Due to this reason, it has been used in traditional medicines for years.
#15. Lower blood pressure
The antioxidant properties of honey help in lowering blood pressure, which is one of the important risk factors for heart disease. In some studies, the antioxidant compounds present in honey have been linked to lower blood pressure.
In one study on humans, it is found that taking honey can help in a modest reduction in blood pressure. So, if you are dealing with high blood pressure, you may take honey for better results. But, make sure to consult a doctor before you start consuming honey on a regular basis.
It is true that raw honey has more potential to offer better and powerful health benefits. This list of health benefits of honey will help you to treat your health problem in one way or another. But, always keep in mind that honey is still considered an added sugar, so you are advised to keep an eye on portions you consume.
It is also recommended to talk to your doctor about your honey intake and its benefits/side effects on your body.