Should You Eat Raw Honey? These Studies Prove Its Health Benefits
More studies are coming to light, spreading the word of this sweet nectar’s health benefits when included in your daily diet.
For years, individuals have been debating whether animal-based or plant-based diets are superior for health. One side claims that living organisms aren’t meant to be eaten while the other side argues plants’ ability to release toxic chemicals as a natural defense mechanism. While these two sides continue to argue, new studies have focused their attention on the few substances expressly designed for eating -- HONEY!
Honey, a sweet, sticky yellowish-brown fluid created from the nectar of flowers, is FOOD in the purest sense. It has no blatant anti-nutrients that impair digestion and is one of the most calorically-dense foods around. In fact, the Hadza, modern hunter-gatherer people living in northern Tanzania, consume a majority of their calories from honey many months out of the year.
AND, honey comes with a plethora of health benefits. Namely, raw local honey can aid seasonal allergies by improving immune function.
How Honey Helps Allergies
In one study, patients who pre-seasonally used honey made from birch pollen had significantly better control of their symptoms than those on conventional medication only. Forty-four patients with physician-diagnosed birch pollen allergies consumed either birch pollen honey or regular honey daily in incremental amounts for one year.
During birch pollen season the following year, patients who consumed the birch pollen honey reported a 60% lower total symptom score along with twice as many asymptomatic days. There were 70% fewer days with severe symptoms allowing them to use 50% fewer antihistamines than the control group.
This study indicates that different types of honey could serve as a complementary therapy for birch pollen allergies.
However, the effectiveness of honey depends on which plant pollens went into that particular batch of honey. If you know what pollen you're allergic to and find a legit source of honey using that pollen, it can really help. Stop by local, small-time honey farmers as they'll have specific kinds of honey (made with specific pollens) and can provide great advice.
Other Health Benefits of Honey
The creation and eating of honey is not just limited to allergy season. There are many useful benefits of incorporating honey into your every day diet. The following are common (and powerful) uses of honey.
WOUND DRESSING: Manuka honey, specifically, is famously rich in antibacterial compounds. Although, even regular honey is effective against wounds. Simply apply a small dollop to your bandage or directly to the wound for faster healing.
MEAT MARINADES: Honey protects against lipid peroxidation, the process in which free radicals cause cell damage. When peroxidation occurs, carcinogenic compounds are released during cooking. Honey helps prevent this cytotoxicity. As well, adding honey to your marinades tastes great!
SLEEP AID: Honey with warm milk is an old remedy for poor sleep. Or you can simply take a tablespoon before bed. It makes a huge difference, especially if you're an active individual consuming lower carbohydrates throughout the day.
Which Honey Should You Be Eating?
Darker, wilder, complex kinds of honey will have more phenolic compounds -- long associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. As well, you will experience a better metabolic effect than lightly colored, more one-note kinds of honey.
Don’t go downing jars of it just yet.
This sweet nectar is created for consumption by bees primarily. These insects are relatively simple creatures and do not require the same level of micro-nutrition as mammals. So, honey likely shouldn’t be the only food in your diet. As little as a tablespoon a day, though, can provide the benefits mentioned above.