Honey Nutrition Antibacterial Antioxidant Anti-Inflammatory

Is Honey Healthy? Here's What Experts Say

Because it comes from nature — from bees, no less — honey has a health halo. But is honey really healthy? Here’s what dietitians say about the health benefits of honey.


What is honey made of?

Honey is made from nectar. “Bees collect the dilute-sugary nectar of flora plants, produce an enzymatic activity after ingestion, regurgitate it into honey cells and evaporate a high percentage of the water out of it, producing a super-sweet viscous liquid known as honey,” explains Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

“Research has linked honey to an improvement in gut microbial balance, coughing and other respiratory conditions. Because of honey’s trace nutrients, the sweetener has been thought to have antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, along with healing potential for ailments such as sore throats, digestive disorders and burns, Friedman says.”

The sweet substance is mostly fructose and glucose — simple sugars that are easily converted by the body into energy — and water.

Honey also contains trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes, amino acids and flavonoids, says Jenny Friedman, a Philadelphia-based registered dietitian. “These compounds are responsible for some of honey’s potential health benefits and part of what distinguishes the sweetener from more traditional ones like sugar.”


Is honey healthy?

Research has linked honey to an improvement in gut microbial balance, coughing and other respiratory conditions. Because of honey’s trace nutrients, the sweetener has been thought to have antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, along with healing potential for ailments such as sore throats, digestive disorders and burns, Friedman says.


But it’s important to consider the full nutritional picture. To get many of these benefits, “we’d have to eat a lot of honey,” says Friedman. “And unfortunately, consuming a lot of honey means consuming a lot of calories.”

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