Honey, is it actually good for you?

I am constantly thinking about food. I talk about food daily. I plan my life around food. I understand that food is the most life-giving or life-taking choice we make daily. Everything we eat communicates to our cells and either pushes them towards disease or away from it. Each of our trillions of cells has receptors for food and micronutrients. Each meal, snack, and drink either open those doors to health or closes them. I genuinely believe that most chronic disease comes down to this; Did you fill your body with more health or with more toxicity?

Food is a multi-billion dollar industry of confusion. But, I think, innately, we all know the rules. Michael Pollan put it perfectly in a bite-sized chunk in 2008. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants (for the record, I believe quality meat is an integral part of our diet, as a side dish). 

One area of confusion over the years has been natural sweeteners. Particularly honey. Honey is a natural sweetener, not refined sugar. Yet, most natural health advocates will tote the phrase “sugar is sugar” in a sweeping statement that includes maple syrup and honey, further limiting the available foods we can enjoy. Although I agree with drastically limiting our sugar intake (including natural sugars), I think maple syrup and honey have a valuable place in a healthy diet. In an upcoming article, I will take a more in-depth look at maple syrup. 

Honey is one of nature’s sweetest gifts. From eye disease to constipation to fatigue, honey has been used for centuries for health and healing. Honey is thought to act as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant. 

Samargnandian et al. analyzed all available literature about honey and found over 200 scientific publications over a 42-year period discussing honey’s value. 

As an antioxidant, honey gets top marks. Darker honey has higher antioxidant properties, making it a powerhouse for cellular repair. Manuka honey has the highest antioxidant concentration. There is also ample research supporting honey as a potent anti-inflammatory and significant support to our immune system. This meta-analysis concludes with the statement that “there is remarkable evidence” for using honey for health and healing.

A quick search on honey and weight gain will ease any concerns as it prevents excessive weight gain and assists in proper fat metabolism. But there is a small catch. 

A teaspoon of honey daily is enough to reap the myriad of health benefits. Indeed, in the case of honey, more is not necessarily better. However, if you are working to reduce your refined sugar intake (which most of us should be), sweetening your tea with honey appears to have some great benefits and satisfies that sweet craving beneficially. 

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