Benefits of Honey
The average American consumes more than 150 pounds of sugar every year, and that doesn't include another 62 pounds of high fructose corn syrup, which is found in numerous packaged foods in the grocery store. Recent research shows that using pure, raw honey instead of sugar can amount to some excellent health benefits.
What is Raw Honey?
Raw honey is a pure form of honey, which is made by bees from the nectar they consume. Most of the honey that people eat has been heated and filtered, but raw honey is unprocessed and offers a bigger nutritional punch. You can find raw honey at health food stores and from local beekeepers.
Health Benefits of Honey
Raw honey carries many benefits for your health. Here are just a few of the ways in which pure honey improves everything from allergies to insomnia.
- Weight Loss and Obesity Prevention. A study from San Diego State University found a link between honey consumption and weight loss. According to the study, replacing sugar with honey can lower blood sugar as well as prevent weight gain. Another study found that raw honey activates hormones that reduce the appetite.
- Allergic Immunity and Allergy Relief. Raw honey contains bee pollen, unlike processed, pasteurized honey, and eating local raw honey can actually help relieve the severity of your allergies. That's because bees sip the nectar of local flowers. When you eat their honey, you also consume the pollen, which may, over time, reduce your sensitivity to allergies to these plants. Additionally, a recent study found that eating one gram of honey per kilogram of body weight each day can improve allergy symptoms in two months, particularly those related to the nose and eyes.
- Better Exercise. Research shows that honey is an excellent pre-exercise carbohydrate that can give you a major energy boost during your workout. According to the University of Memphis, honey performs like glucose, which is the energy source found in many energy drinks and bars on the market.
- Antioxidant and Immunity Boost. A daily dose of honey increases levels of antioxidants in the body that are associated with good health. Likewise, it boosts your immune system and helps to protect against disease. Polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, are found in raw honey, and studies show that people who consume it have higher levels of these antioxidants in their blood.
- Better Sleep. Raw honey promotes the release of tryptophan, which converts to serotonin, which then converts to melatonin, the "sleep hormone." Eating raw honey before bed helps promote higher quality sleep, and the melatonin released helps to improve your immunity and rebuild tissues while you sleep.
- Faster Healing. Putting honey on a wound can help it heal faster, according to research from the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Honey reacts with the fluids in your body to make hydrogen peroxide, which prevents the growth of bacteria that can lead to infection. Put honey directly on a burn, cut, or ulcer, and put a band-aid over it. Change the dressing every 24 hours for two days.
- Cough Relief. Scientific evidence shows that two teaspoons of honey can reduce the secretion of mucus and relieve associated coughs. One study found that honey was as effective as over-the-counter cough medicines and can work for anyone over the age of one year.
How to Add More Honey to Your Diet
Getting more raw honey in your diet isn't hard, especially since honey is so delicious. You can eat it straight from the spoon or add it to a cup of hot tea. Drizzle it over your cereal or toast, or add it to your smoothie. Avoid cooking with it, though, because cooking it will destroy its most beneficial properties. To substitute honey for sugar, use two teaspoons of honey for every tablespoon of sugar in a recipe.
The benefits of raw honey are many, and when consumed along with other healthy, sugar-free and low-sugar foods, it can boost your overall health.