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8 Health Benefits of Raw Honey

Raw honey is harvested directly from a beehive. It’s the most distinctive sweet liquid you’ll ever come across. For ages, it has been used as a folk medicine, and it provides a wide spectrum of health and medicinal benefits. Because of its antimicrobial and wound-healing characteristics, it’s even used as a wound therapy in some hospitals. Among all kinds of honey, raw or unpasteurized provides most of the health advantages.

What is Raw Honey

You’ve certainly seen honey labels like “wild,” “raw,” “organic,” “unfiltered,” or “pure.” Not all honey is equal. Each honey label has a meaning and understanding which one is which can help you choose the healthiest honey. Some honey producers filter their honey through a coarse filter to remove foreign materials. Many of honey’s health benefits are lost when it is filtered and heated to high temperatures. Most honey available in supermarkets has been heated to make it less sticky and easier to sift.

So what are the different types of honey?

Raw Honey

The difference between raw honey and pure honey is that “raw” honey has not been heated to the point of pasteurization or temperatures above 118°F. Because it is unfiltered, unheated, and unpasteurized, the naturally-occurring enzymes, vitamins, and minerals are kept. Hence you get the full advantages of good-for-you antioxidants, vitamins, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral qualities from eating raw honey. Many beekeepers that create raw honey are aware that how they care for the bees and manage the honey has a significant impact on the honey you eat. Raw honey is likely to be healthy for the bees as well as the process has been handled with care. In comparison to other types of honey, raw honey is a superior choice for health, flavor, bees, and the environment.

Pure Honey

When a product is branded “pure honey,” it means it includes honey and nothing else. To cut expenses, other industrial honey include other components like corn syrup. Pure honey can be clover, bush, manuka, or pohutukawa honey, depending on where the bees got their nectar. Because “pure” honey doesn’t always say how it’s manufactured, it’s a good idea to look for extra information to be sure you’re getting all the benefits of honey made in the most environment-friendly and bee-friendly process possible. Take note as well that pure honey is also not “raw, unfiltered honey unless the label clearly states differently.

Unfiltered Honey

Honey is filtered to remove very small particles, sometimes as small as pollen, by performing a process called filtering. The process of filtering is different from straining honey. Typically, bee parts and other large debris are removed before jarring so that the honey will retain its pollen and other properties. A common practice in filtering honey is to heat it so that it can become liquid to make filtering easier. However, this means that the honey no longer qualifies as raw. Compared to filtered processed honey, unfiltered honey has more beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Honey that has not been filtered is not necessarily raw unless it is labeled as such. Raw, unfiltered honey gives you the greatest chance of preserving a honey’s properties.

Organic Honey

Honey is filtered to remove very small particles, sometimes as small as pollen, by performing a process called filtering. The process of filtering is different from straining honey. Typically, bee parts and other large debris are removed before jarring so that the honey will retain its pollen and other properties. A common practice in filtering honey is to heat it so that it can become liquid to make filtering easier. However, this means that the honey no longer qualifies as raw. Compared to filtered processed honey, unfiltered honey has more beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Honey that has not been filtered is not necessarily raw unless it is labeled as such. Raw, unfiltered honey gives you the greatest chance of preserving a honey’s properties.

8 Health Benefits of Raw Honey

1. Healthy Weight Management

Research studies have linked honey consumption with weight loss. A San Diego State University study found that replacing sugar with honey can actually help prevent packing on extra pounds and also lower blood sugar. The results also suggest that in comparison to sugar, honey may lower serum triglycerides (3)

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Another study from the University of Wyoming found that raw honey can activate hormones that suppress the appetite. In the double-blind randomly assigned study, appetite hormones and glycemic responses were measured in 14 healthy non-obese women after consuming a breakfast containing either honey or sugar. Overall, researchers concluded that honey consumption offers potential obesity protective effects (4).

2. Counters Pollen Allergies

Raw honey contains bee pollen, which is known to ward off infections, provide natural allergy relief and boost overall immunity. Honey’s ability to prevent allergies is based on a concept called immunotherapy. How so? The bees in your neighborhood go from flower to flower collecting pollen that causes you to suffer, but when you consume local raw honey, you also consume that same offending local pollen. After some time, an allergy sufferer may become less sensitive to this pollen that previously caused problems and experience less seasonal allergy symptoms. Many seasonal allergy sufferers have found local, raw honey to be helpful because it desensitizes them to the fauna triggering their allergic reaction.

A 2013 study found that eating honey at a high dose (one gram per kilogram of body weight of honey daily) can improve allergy symptoms over a period of eight weeks. Researchers absorbed that the honey consumption improved overall and individual symptoms of allergic rhinitis (5). Allergic rhinitis is an allergic response that causes itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and other similar symptoms.

Some people say that a daily tablespoon of honey can actually act like an allergy shot. The type of honey is key though since pasteurized honey does not contain any pollen. For possible seasonal allergy relief, you need to consume raw honey with pollen in it.

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3. Natural Energy Source

Raw honey contains natural sugars (80 percent), water (18 percent), and minerals, vitamins, pollen, and protein (2 percent). It’s not surprising that honey has been called “the perfect running fuel.” It provides an easily absorbed supply of energy in the form of liver glycogen, making it ideal for energetic morning starts and as a pre-and post-exercise energy source. 

Studies at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory have shown honey to be one of the best choices of carbohydrates to consume right before exercising. Additionally, studies have revealed that as a sporting fuel, honey performs on a par with glucose, which is the sugar used in most commercial energy gels (6)

When it comes to raw honey’s use in athletic endeavors, I highly recommend raw honey for both fueling and recovery. That’s why raw honey is included in some of the best pre-workout snacks and post-workout meals.

4. Antioxidant Powerhouse

Studies have shown that a daily dose of raw honey raises levels of health-promoting antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants help block free radicals in the body that cause disease. It also boosts the immune system, acting as a preventative against any number of debilitating diseases. Honey contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

One study fed 25 subjects about four tablespoons of honey per day for 29 days in addition to their regular diets. When blood samples were taken at the start and end of the study, researchers found a clear, direct link between honey consumption and an increased level of disease-fighting polyphenols in the blood (7).

Studies have shown that honey contains the disease-fighting antioxidant flavonoids pinocembrin, pinostrobin, and chrysin (8). Pinocembrin supports enzyme activity, and many studies have shown that pinocembrin induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) of many types of cancer cells (9). Laboratory research suggests that chrysin may increase the male hormone testosterone and improve bodybuilding results, but human research hasn’t found any effect on testosterone levels (10).

5. Sleep Promoter

Raw honey promotes restorative sleep in two ways. By consuming honey before bedtime, restock the liver’s glycogen supply and prevents the brain from triggering a crisis search for fuel, which can wake you up. Secondly, eating raw honey fosters the release of melatonin in the brain by creating a small spike in insulin levels, which stimulates the release of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan converts to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin (11).

Melatonin also boosts immunity and helps rebuild tissue during periods of rest. Poor sleep, by comparison, has been shown to be a risk factor for hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and arthritis. As honey is a proven natural sleep aid, it naturally lowers the risk of all these health problems.

6. Wound and Ulcer Healer

Honey-infused bandages are known to aid healing. Peter Charles Molan at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, has found in multiple studies that honey has natural antibacterial properties with wound-healing effects. He also found that honey reacts with the body’s fluids to make hydrogen peroxide, creating an inhospitable environment for bacteria (12).

For the treatment of burns and wounds, honey is typically applied directly to the problem area or in a dressing that’s changed every 24 to 48 hours. Sometimes the dressing is left in place for up to 25 days (13). A combination of honey and ghee has also been advocated and used as a dressing for infected wounds since 1991 in four Mumbai hospitals (14).

Honey has been studied for its use in effectively treating various types of ulcers as well. Honey may reduce the size, pain, and odor of problematic skin ulcers (15).

7. Diabetes Aid

Consumption of raw honey can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and help aid medication used to treat diabetes. The combination of raw honey and cinnamon can be especially beneficial to healthy blood sugar management, as well as many other health concerns like gingivitis and acne.

According to a study out of Dubai, honey has been observed to cause a lower elevation of plasma glucose levels in diabetics compared to dextrose and sucrose. Some suggest that the insulin-boosting power of cinnamon can counteract this glucose elevation in honey, which would make your honey and cinnamon mixture a low glycemic index food combination (16).

Raw honey increases insulin and decreases hyperglycemia. Try consuming a little at a time and see how your blood sugar reacts to it, and add both raw honey and cinnamon to your diabetic diet plan.

8. Natural Cough Syrup

Raw honey has been shown to be as effective in treating and coughs as over-the-counter commercial cough syrups. Increasing scientific evidence shows that a single dose of honey can reduce mucus secretion and coughs. In one study, honey was just as effective as diphenhydramine and dextromethorphan, common ingredients found in over-the-counter cough medicines (17). It is also found effective in treating sore throats.

For a cough, a half teaspoon to two teaspoons of honey at bedtime is studied and recommended dosage for anyone over the age of one.

How to Use Raw Honey?

Never cook with raw honey because that will destroy its good properties. Also, do not store it near a heat source. If you enjoy honey in your tea or coffee, wait until the drink is just tepid enough to sip comfortably, and then add honey to taste.

Drizzle it on breakfast cereals, over your sprouted grain toast or on yogurt. It’s also a great addition to smoothies and salad dressings. Raw honey can be a healthy alternative to highly processed sugar in recipes that don’t require heat. For every one tablespoon of sugar in a recipe (that doesn’t require heating), you can typically use two teaspoons of honey instead.

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Is A Spoonful of Honey a Day Good for You?

Honey contains antioxidants, aids wound healing and has anti-inflammatory qualities, so two tablespoons a day can be beneficial to your health.

spoonful of honey (about 21 grams) has the following nutritional content:

      • Energy: 64 kcal 
      • Fructose (a type of carbohydrate): 8.6 grams 
      • Total carbohydrates: 17.3 grams  
      • Protein: 0.06 grams 
      • Various minerals: calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, fluoride, and selenium 
      • Small amounts of vitamins (such as vitamin C, folate, B vitamins) 
      • Various antioxidants or polyphenols 

 

Honey, though a natural sweetener, does not imply that we can consume it indefinitely. A healthy person without weight problems who does not base his diet on excessive consumption of sugars should consume no more than one small spoon of honey each day. This equates to 10 to 12 grams of honey.

The amount of honey a person should consume will rely on the wellness state of the individual, the sort of diet he or she follows, and the amount of sugar consumed daily. Another aspect that can affect the recommended daily amount of honey is the amount of physical activity performed, each person’s metabolism, and whether or not he has a sickness or ailment that honey can help treat.

 

The Potential Risks of Raw Honey

For the most part, honey is safe food, but it is not for everyone. Here are some of the risks associated with honey use:

Botulism in Infants

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), honey should not be given to infants under the age of one due to the risk of infant botulism. Dust particles in honey may include spores of the bacterium that causes botulism. Many germs are resistant to infants, and they can become very sick. Honey should be safe to use in preparing food for children because heat kills most microorganisms. This holds for both raw and processed honey.

Allergies

Allergic patients should be careful when consuming honey. Honey allergies are rare, but they do happen. Maybe it’s because of the bee pollen in the honey. Bee pollen is a mixture of bee pollen and digestive enzymes. It can cause a severe allergic reaction.

How to Choose the Right Type of Honey?

Many forms of pasteurized honey are labeled as “pure honey,” while others may be labeled as “clover honey” or as “local honey.” Some producers pasteurize organic honey, thus even items branded as “organic honey” may not be raw.

Understanding the different types of honey can assist you in selecting the best honey for you and the environment. High fructose corn syrup or other additives are used in some processed honey products. Make sure the honey is pure by looking at the label. Nevertheless, because there is minimal regulation on honey labeling, it might be difficult to determine for sure based just on these assertions on labels.

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To ensure you get precisely what you’re searching for, the best thing is to search for little, distinctive, or honey makers who are straightforward with regards to their processes. Have a go at visiting your neighborhood rancher’s market, checking normal food varieties shops, or visiting supermarkets that convey a decent assortment of honey.

Buying locally is better for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it decreases pollution and conserves resources. Commercial honey is produced by bees brought in from other areas pollinating a single crop. This is both unnatural and harmful to bees. Let’s maintain the bees in their natural habitat, pollinating as nature intended.

Summary

Honey is a natural product that has been used for different medicinal purposes since ancient times. However, different commercial procedures made in honey alter the quality and health benefits it can provide.

Raw honey is being studied for medical purposes with promising results. It may offer nutrients not found in ordinary honey. As a result, raw honey may provide additional, or more significant, health benefits. However, this has not been validated by studies. Extra ingredients in raw honey, such as bee pollen and propolis, can also provide additional antioxidant and antibacterial benefits.

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Dr. George J. Ceremuga received a Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He served as an Army Officer with the 4th Infantry Division prior to medical school. He received…

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8 Health Benefits of Raw Honey