Manuka Honey Side Effects

Manuka honey is not only a sweetener you can add to your tea or hot cereal, but it's also said to have medicinal properties. However, the sweet honey may not make a good choice for everyone. Side effects may include allergic reaction, elevated blood sugar and weight gain. Consult your doctor if you're experiencing a reaction after consuming manuka honey.

Manuka honey is collected from beehives near manuka bushes. (Image: srekapi/iStock/Getty Images)

Manuka Nutrition

Like other sweeteners and other types of honey, manuka honey is a concentrated source of calories, carbs and sugar. A 1-tablespoon serving contains 60 calories, 18 grams of carbohydrates and 16 grams of sugar, which is very similar to the nutritional composition of a generic honey. The honey is fat- and sodium-free and is not a significant source of any vitamin or mineral. However, it is rich in phytochemicals, including flavonoids and phenolic acids, nutrients that may benefit your health.

Allergic Reaction

Although it's not as common as a soy or wheat allergy, one potential side effect of manuka honey is an allergic reaction. The reaction may be due to the pollen or the bee venom. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to the honey might include the development of a rash or hives, wheezing or coughing, difficulty swallowing or stomach upset such as nausea and vomiting. Seek medical attention if you experience any of these reactions. Only a doctor can diagnose a food allergy.

Blood Sugar Increase

As a source of carbs and sugar, manuka honey may affect your blood sugar levels. However, it's important to note that honey may not impact blood sugar as much as regular sugar. A 2014 study published in "The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association" found that honey does not cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar and, in small amounts, may serve as an alternative sugar substitute for people with Type 2 diabetes.

Weight Gain

You may be taking manuka honey as a supplement, but it's still a source of calories and should be counted toward your overall intake. If you consume 1 tablespoon of manuka honey daily without making any other changes to your diet or exercise routine, it could lead to a 6-pound weight gain over the course of a year. Using the honey in place of other sweeteners, such as the sugar in your tea or coffee, may help prevent the weight gain from the added calories.

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