Is honey healthy or just another popular sweetener? It is known as a home remedy for colds and coughs, but honey also unfolds its healing powers for other ailments.
A healthy alternative to sugar?
Before you can say that honey is healthy, you should look at what’s in the sweet.
Bee honey is a natural food, free from fat and risk substances such as cholesterol or purines, but also contains no fiber or proteins. With around 320 kilocalories per 100 grams, honey is not exactly a slimming product, and the fructose it contains even stimulates the appetite – this can be beneficial for people who want to gain weight.
Like sugar, honey mainly contains grape sugar (glucose) and fruit sugar (fructose): 80 percent of honey consists of these sugars, the remaining 20 percent is water.
Honey therefore also promotes caries and is even more harmful to the teeth than white or brown sugar because its sticky nature makes it stick to it for longer. Like sugar, it should therefore be used sparingly.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend limiting the consumption of free sugar to less than ten percent of the total energy intake, including honey.
Which foods are actually good for your teeth?
Although honey is low in vitamins and minerals, it is healthy because it contains some bioactive substances and antioxidants. Especially the inhibins, a group of anti-inflammatory agents (enzymes, resins, flavonoids), are said to have a beneficial effect. However, these healthy active ingredients become ineffective from a temperature of 40 degrees.
How fresh and natural a honey is can be recognized by experts from the so-called HMF value. The less of the breakdown product hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) you can detect in honey, the better the quality and the higher the content of healing ingredients.
Honey contains important antioxidants
There are many important antioxidants in honey, including phenols, enzymes and plant substances such as flavonoids and organic acids. This combination of substances makes honey healthy. Antioxidants can lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks, as well as some cancers, and have a positive effect on eyesight.
High blood pressure can make heart disease worse – the antioxidants in honey can lower blood pressure and help widen arteries. This increases the flow of blood to the heart. In addition, antioxidants prevent blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
In one study, antioxidants were able to protect the heart from oxidative stress. However, there are still no long-term human studies that adequately investigate whether honey is healthy for the heart.
Is honey healthy for diabetes?
Honey can strengthen the heart as it has a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Too much LDL cholesterol can lead to arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, in which, among other things, blood lipids are deposited in the arteries. In the worst case, this can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Honey can lower the level of “bad” LDL cholesterol and significantly increase the level of “good” HDL cholesterol. Compared to sugar, honey even led to 1.3 percent more weight loss, was able to reduce the LDL content by 5.8 percent and at the same time increase the HDL content by 3.3 percent.
But other studies also show that honey can raise blood sugar levels, albeit less so than refined sugar. Therefore, like sugar, diabetics should use honey with caution.
Poor blood lipid levels can increase the risk of heart disease and are a sign of insulin resistance, a phenomenon in type 2 diabetes and a major contributing factor to it.
Poor blood fat levels are common in people who eat high amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Some studies have linked eating honey with good blood lipid levels, especially when honey was consumed as a sugar substitute.
The triglyceride levels in the honey test subjects were eleven to 19 percent lower than in the sugar group.
A healthy wound remedy?
Externally, fresh honey from a good beekeeper sometimes helps better with wounds than modern antibiotics. One study found that treating second-degree burns and inflamed wounds with honey worked faster than conventional treatments after surgery.
One study showed that honey was used successfully as a wound healing agent 43 percent of the time. This effect is attributed to the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of honey. Honey can also help with conditions like psoriasis, hemorrhoids, and cold sores.
Honey is also healthy for diabetic foot ulcers, which in the worst case can lead to amputation. In 97 percent of the cases examined, honey was able to heal these foot ulcers.
Honey for coughs
Honey not only tastes good in tea, it is a real virus killer, strengthens the immune system, and helps with acute dry coughs and a budding cold. If you add honey to your tea or hot milk, the drink should cool down a bit beforehand, as the healing enzymes in the honey are destroyed at a temperature of 40 degrees or more.
In some studies honey has been shown to be very effective for sore throats and coughs in children, in some cases it is even more effective than traditional cough medication. The symptoms and sleep were improved by the honey here.
However, honey should not be given to children under twelve months of age, as it can contain Clostridium botulinum, which can lead to botulism (food poisoning).
Tips for buying
Just like the usual organic products in supermarkets, organic honey must also meet special requirements so that it can bear this special label. But it is impossible to control which flower the bee is flying to.
The bees’ environment and of course the location of the beehive are therefore important. For organic honey, the beehives must be located within a radius of around three kilometers in an area in which mainly organically grown plants and cultures are located.
The beehives and hives themselves and the wax partitions must be made of ecological or natural materials. In addition, only certain methods are allowed for feeding the bees and treating them in the event of illnesses.
Honey contains fewer calories than table sugar, but it promotes caries and can stimulate the appetite in a similar fashion. (Always clean your teeth and keep enjoy small doses.) It contains anti-inflammatory enzymes, bioactive substances and antioxidants that are healthy. The antioxidants can have positive effects on heart health and lower blood pressure.
Honey can lower the level of LDL cholesterol and increase that of HDL cholesterol as well as improve blood lipid levels and thus lower the risk of heart disease or type 2 diabetes. However, diabetics should use honey with caution as it can raise blood sugar levels.
Honey is healthy for the skin as it can heal skin diseases such as psoriasis, hemorrhoids and cold sores. In addition, honey has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect and can help with burns and wounds.
Especially for children, honey is an effective remedy for coughs. However, children under one year of age should not be given honey as it can lead to botulism.