Is Honey Good for Your Liver?

Although honey is composed primarily of sugar, unlike table sugar it contains constituents that benefit liver health in a variety of ways, some of which may come as a surprise. Honey has been used as food and medicine for centuries, but scientists have only recently discovered its benefit to liver health through animal and human experiments. The overall benefits of honey may make it a better sweetener than table sugar.

Honey (Image: Noam Armonn/iStock/Getty Images)

Honey Nutrient Value

Honey contains a diverse array of nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. It also contains protein and amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Perhaps most interestingly, honey contains phenolic compounds, which are beneficial substances that possess antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are chemicals that neutralize the effects of potentially damaging substances called free radicals, which are linked to aging and degenerative diseases.

May Protect Against Toxin Exposure

Honey appears to protect the liver from toxic substances, wrote the authors of a study published in the 2013 issue of the Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal. To evaluate the protective capacity of honey, researchers gave a potent liver toxin to rats with and without honey. The rats without the honey sustained significant liver damage as indicated by raised liver enzymes. However, honey protected the liver and kidneys of the other group of rats against toxicity and improved their cholesterol. The authors hypothesize that the antioxidant activity of the phenolic compounds in honey may be responsible for this liver-protecting effect.

Protects Against Bile Obstruction Damage

Bile is a digestive liquid made in the liver that passes through special bile ducts and collects in the gallbladder to help you digest food. Common issues such as gallstones, inflammation or even tumors can block bile ducts and cause damage to the liver. When given to rats with bile duct obstruction, honey helped to protect the liver from injury, concluded a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in June 2008.

May Improve Liver's Ability to Control Glucose

Honey may benefit the liver in a way that may improve blood sugar control, stated the authors of a review published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences in July 2012. The liver, along with the pancreas, plays a role in controlling blood sugar. The study authors explained that diabetes is commonly linked to liver dysfunction and concluded that, through a series of metabolic processes, honey supplementation may improve the liver's ability to control blood sugar.

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