Honey serves as a natural alternative to granulated sugar. You can use it to sweeten your tea or add a rich flavor to baked goods. While sugar in any form, including honey, can encourage weight gain if not eaten in moderation, honey is not bad for your diet -- it offers a range of vitamins and minerals as well as a variety of other health benefits.
A 1-tbsp. serving of honey contains 64 calories and no fat. You also take in 17 g of carbohydrates per serving, although this does not contribute a great deal to the 225 to 325 g of carbs your body requires each day. Despite this, honey is not bad for you -- you do need to supplement your diet with healthy carbohydrates to meet your needs, though. There are more nutritious ways to add sweetness to foods, but a serving of honey provides 1 percent of the daily recommended intake of manganese as well as trace amounts of vitamin C, folate, choline, betaine, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and fluoride.
Eating honey instead of sugar may help you lose weight. A study published in the January 2011 issue of the journal "Nutrition Research" indicates that honey consumption can decrease your chances of gaining weight by lowering the amount of food eaten. It may also have a positive impact on cholesterol levels. This study was carried out on rats, so human studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Applying honey to wounds may offer benefits. Evidence available in the January 2011 edition of "Recent Patents on Inflammation and Allergy Drug Discovery" notes that topical application of honey wards off infection at wound sites. An animal study published in the October 2010 "Journal of Wound Care" suggests that honey applied to wounds may also encourage new blood vessel growth in the area as well, which speeds healing. More studies will confirm not only whether this finding is true in humans, but also the most effective dosage. Consult your physician before using honey on scrapes and lacerations.
Eat honey to decrease general inflammation in your body. Researchers who conducted laboratory testing on honey suggest that some types of this food have an anti-inflammatory effect brought on by phenolic compounds, including ellagic, gallic, caffeic and ferulic acids, according to a study published in the September 2010 edition of "Nutrition Research." An animal study in the June 2010 "BMS Complementary and Alternative Medicine" journal indicates that the anti-inflammatory effects of honey may effectively reduce water retention, although studies are needed to determine honey's usefulness for decreasing inflammation in humans. Do not eat honey as a treatment for inflammation without first seeking the counsel of your doctor.
When you have diabetes, including honey in your meal plan may help you control your condition. A study published in the January 2010 issue of the "International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research" correlates honey consumption with a hypoglycemic response, lowering blood sugar levels in rats. It also lowered kidney stress. Further studies are needed to corroborate that honey has the same effect in humans, so speak to your physician about eating honey if you have diabetes.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Honey
- "Nutrition Research"; Honey Promotes Lower Weight Gain, Adiposity, and Triglycerides Than Sucrose in Rats; T.M. Nemoseck, et al.; January 2011
- "Journal of Wound Care"; Honey Promotes Angiogenesis Activity in the Rat Aortic Ring Assay; K. Rossiter, et al.; October 2010
- “Recent Patents on Inflammation and Allergy Drug Discovery”; Recent Patents on Topical Application of Honey in Wound and Burn Management; M.B. Benhanifia, et al.; January 2011
- "BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine"; Anti-inflammatory Effect of Bee Pollen Ethanol Extract from Cistus sp. of Spanish on Carrageenan-induced Rat Hind Paw Edema; H. Maruyama, et al.; June 2010
- "Nutrition Research"; Ellagic Acid, Phenolic Acid, and Flavonoids in Malaysian Honey Extracts Demonstrate in Vitro Anti-inflammatory Activity; M. Kassim, et al.; September 2010