Golden Elixir: A Look at the Nutritional Values of Honey and Its Health Benefits


Medically reviewed by

Bajaj Finserv Health


6 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Did you know honey was the preferred sweetener prior to the 19th century? 
  • Moderate consumption of honey can aid in treating health and skin conditions 
  • It is beneficial for adults to use raw vis-à-vis pasteurised honey

For centuries, honey has been used for boosting energy and overall health. In fact, honey is called the golden elixir or elixir of life and that’s because of its unmatchable nutritional value and benefits. So, if you’ve considered using honey only in desserts or baked goodies, it may be time for a change!  

The ingredient plays a vital role in the life of honeybees and human beings. Interestingly, honey was considered the first and most reliable sweetener. The oldest written reference to honey dates back to 5500 BCE though honeybees have been in existence much before any historical record. The use of cane sugar became affordable in the 19th century; until then, honey was the primary sweetener used in candies, sweets and cakes. 

Based on the honey nutritional information, honey cannot be classified as just a simple sugar. The moderate use of honey can elevate the goodness of a dish and offer other fascinating benefits.  

Take a look at the table below to get a snapshot of the composition of honey, including 1 tbsp honey calories. 

Honey nutrition info  

Amount per 1 tbsp 

Calories 64 g 
Fat 0 g 
Carbohydrates 17 g 
Sodium 0 mg 
Fibre 0 g 
Sugar 17 g 
Protein 0 g 

When it comes to honey nutrition facts, 1 tsp contains 7g of calories, 6g of carbohydrates, 0.3 mg of sodium and 6 g of sugar.   

What are the health benefits of honey?

Based on the nutrition facts of honey, this elixir can very well be termed a health supplement when used in moderation. The ingredient has been used in everything: right from desserts and wine to skincare products. Though it is majorly used as a flavour enhancer, some types of honey are believed to have significant healing abilities for certain health conditions. 

Take a look at the table below to see how honey can help with medical ailments. 


Use of honey

Assists reproductive health  Some honey varieties are known to have beneficial effects on female reproductive health. For example, to lower symptoms related to menopause or premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  
Aids in cough relief  Research indicates honey can help diminish a cough. A spoonful of honey was found to be effective in treating children with bouts of cough. Besides, honey is considered to provide relief for a long period of time when taken in a dosage of 2.5ml every night before bed.  
Supports regularity in bowel movementsHoney is supposed to be helpful for treating symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and diarrhoea. 
Lowers cancer risk  Honey can help in restricting the development of cancer by reducing inflammation and inhibiting tumour growth to a certain extent. However, it is not used in full-fledged cancer treatments. 
Promotes healing of wound   Propolis, an element in honey, helps in boosting the synthesis of collagen and subduing the activity of free radicals, thereby propelling wound healing. For example, when used for certain kinds of acne and diabetic foot ulcers.  

Helpful in Managing Weight

Honey is considered to be among the finest foods for weight loss. A tablespoon of honey is advised by doctors to be consumed before bed. Having it first thing in the morning helps speed up weight loss by increasing metabolism. 

Improves Immune System

Numerous medicinal benefits of honey include a natural sore throat remedy. Antioxidants and bacteria-fighting properties help it combat illnesses brought on by fungi, bacteria, and viruses. According to doctors and experts, buckwheat honey has the highest concentration of antioxidants and, therefore, is one of the finest foods for increasing immunity. [1] When ingested regularly, honey may help to enhance immunity over time. To receive an extra energy boost for the entire day, it is always advisable to eat honey every morning before breakfast or exercise. It also functions as a toner for cleaning the skin, which helps children's immunity.

Provides Natural Sedation

If you have difficulty getting to sleep, try this warm milk and honey beverage right before bed. This beverage has been used for millennia to promote sleep. Making this beverage is relatively easy. Stir a teaspoon of Honey into a glass of hot milk or add one or two teaspoons to a cup of chamomile tea to help you fall asleep.

Increases Memory

One of the many health advantages of honey, the timeless sweetener, is that it improves memory and attention. Consuming honey not only can improve memory and brain function, but it also improves your general health. Honey's inherent anti-inflammatory and therapeutic characteristics aid in increasing the cholinergic system, blood flow, and memory-eroding cells in the brain.

Nourishes Skin

Because of its moisturizing and nourishing qualities, using honey on the skin is particularly beneficial. The best natural moisturiser, especially for dry skin, is honey, which is also quite simple to use. Raw honey helps moisturize dehydrated skin in addition to clearing blocked pores. In the winter, it also helps heal cracked lips. Honey masks are very popular for evening-out skin tones. 

Aids in Preventing Eczema

Most of the time, young children and teenagers have eczema that can be addressed. Those in pain can make a mixture of raw honey and cold-pressed olive oil, and it can be applied to the skin to solve the issue. Honey cleans the skin naturally by eliminating impurities and leaving it feeling soft and silky. It can also be combined with oats to exfoliate the skin, removing any dead skin cells. Eczema is prevented from developing or recurring with regular usage of honey.

Aids in Treating Gum Diseases

Gingivitis, bleeding, and plaque are just a few of the teeth and gum conditions that can be greatly reduced by using honey regularly. It is well known that honey releases antiseptic hydrogen peroxide, which functions as an anti-microbial agent to stop bacterial development. The usage of raw honey combined with water as mouthwash is advised by experts. 

Reduces Sinus Problems

Many people experience sinus-related problems due to rising pollution and dust levels. Small chambers in the skull called sinuses secrete mucus to protect the respiratory system from infections and allergies. Honey has built-in antibacterial and antiseptic properties that aid in clearing infections and lessening inflammation. Additionally, honey calms the throat, relieves coughs, and boosts the immune system, preventing sinus episodes.

Dandruff Home Remedy

One of the greatest natural home treatments for dandruff is honey. You get smooth and soft hair in addition to nourishing dry hair. To stop hair loss, combine green tea with honey and lavender. To apply to your hair, simply combine two tablespoons of Dabur Honey with an equal amount of vegetable oil. After using this hair mask for 15 minutes, rinse it well before shampooing.

Natural Energy Drink

Honey is renowned as a fantastic natural energy source because its natural, unprocessed sugar directly enters the bloodstream and can provide a quick burst of energy. Your training will greatly benefit from this fast boost, especially if you do longer endurance workouts.

Apart from the above, honey has also shown to be an antioxidant that can help with the management of chronic diseases such as allergies, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, inflammatory and thrombotic diseases. It is also known to be effective as an antifungal, antiviral and antimutagenic agent. It is also believed to have positive effects in stimulating immunity as per research, but this benefit is still be studied. 

Are there any Side Effects of Honey?

Honey is probably safe to use as a natural sweetener, cough suppressant, and topical treatment for minor cuts and wounds. But there are some reasons to be cautious of its use:

  1. First, never give a baby under a year old even a tiny spoonful of honey. When exposed to Clostridium botulinum spores, honey can result in newborn botulism, a rare but deadly gastrointestinal illness. In a baby's intestines, bacteria from the spores can develop and thrive, producing a toxic substance that can be harmful.
  2. Some people have allergies or sensitivity to certain components of honey, especially bee pollen. Bee pollen allergies are uncommon but can have major, even fatal, adverse effects. The following are symptoms and signs of a reaction:
  • Other asthmatic symptoms, such as wheezing
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Weakness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fainting
  • Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms
  • Stinging after topical application

3. Honey possibly affects blood sugar levels.

Although nutrition facts of honey prove it has several benefits, overconsumption can lead to adverse effects. This is because honey: 

  • Has high calorie content 
  • Mainly comprises sugar (carbohydrates) 
  • Is considered unsafe for babies below one year as it can lead to botulism-causing spores 
  • Can increase blood glucose levels 

Interactions with other medication:

There isn't any proof yet that honey and other medications interact.

benefits of honey

How to incorporate honey into the recipes?

When using honey as a sugar substitute, experimentation is essential. For example, using honey in baking can result in too much moisture and browning. In general, reduce the liquid in the recipe by two teaspoons, increase the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and use 34 spoons of honey for every cup of sugar.

Quick Tips:

  • Use honey to sweeten your marinades and sauces
  • Add honey to your coffee or tea
  • Add honey to the top of your toast or pancakes
  • Muesli, yoghurt or cereal can all be sweetened with honey for a more natural taste
  • Whole Grain Toast spread with raw honey and peanut butter

Alternatively, try these licensed dietitians' delicious and healthful recipes:

  • Sweet potatoes roasted with a honey glaze
  • Mango sorbet with basil honey
  • Arugula, pear and walnut salad with honey Dijon vinaigrette
  • Kebabs of grilled fruit garnished with honey

Honey may be kept for as long as possible in an airtight container.

Tips to prudently use honey in food 

In order to counter the negatives of honey and benefit from the nutritional values of honey 

follow these tips. In a recipe that calls for 1 cup sugar, you can comfortably replace it with 3/4th cup of honey and lower the liquid by about 1/4th cup. You can also add a pinch of baking soda in recipes not including sour milk or cream in order to lower the acidity of honey. Remember, jellies or jams with honey have to be cooked at higher temperatures. 

For baking any goodies with honey, the oven temperature needs to be reduced by 25–30° F to avert over-browning. Moreover, while measuring honey, it is always good to coat the utensil with oil so as to avoid sticking.  

What precautions must be taken with honey?

Diabetes: Honey should only be consumed in moderation because it contains sugar. Patients with type 2 diabetes who consume excessive amounts of honey may have increased blood sugar levels

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: There is insufficient information regarding its safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, it should not be consumed in excess

Children: Honey should not be given to infants younger than 12 months. At this age, botulism poisoning is a possibility. It is regarded as secure for older kids

Pollen allergies: Since honey is manufactured from pollen, allergic reactions are possible. If you have a pollen allergy, avoid honey.

Honey should therefore be used with some caution.

Types of honey and best way to store it

There are two kinds of honey: raw and pasteurized.

  • Raw honey 

Raw honey has been used since ages due to its health benefits and medical uses. It is directly obtained from the beehives and is not heated, processed or pasteurized. Besides, the nutritional value of raw honey is higher as it keeps the enzymes, pollen and other micronutrients intact. Raw honey crystalizes faster as it is unfiltered. The best way to store it is below 32⁰ F to thwart crystallisation and changes in aroma or colour. 

  • Pasteurized honey 

Pasteurized honey is filtered and processed so as to package and pour easily. However, in this process some trace minerals associated with honey's health benefits may be eradicated. Often, pure honey on a food label indicates no other ingredients were added during processing. 

Most grocery stores sell pasteurized honey as high heat kills unwanted yeast, improves texture and colour, eliminates crystallization as well as enhances the shelf life. On the other hand, several beneficial nutrients get destroyed in the process.  

Though honey is considered to have an eternal shelf life, this is possible only when it is stored in a non-humid environment with a seal on its container. The common shelf life of honey is estimated to be around two years, but this can vary based on the botanical origins of honey. However, when it comes to shopping, it is best to opt for raw honey from a local farmer's market for maximum nutrition. Darker varieties have more robust flavour, so choose carefully! Honey is available throughout the year and is normally packaged in plastic or glass bottles. Honey can be stored in room temperature as well.

Due to a low glycaemic index, it is believed to be a good alternative to sugar and can help control blood sugar levels. However, if you are a diabetic or being treated for heart disease, it is best to speak to your dietician or physician who can recommend the optimal dosage for you.

Now you can find the best nutritionist or general physician to recommend the right foods for you like honey, which can boost your immunity and help you decrease your sugar consumption, on Bajaj Finserv Health. Find the ideal specialist based on filters like location, timings and experience, but also helps you book in-person or e-consultation instantly. Access health plans that get you discounts from top pharmacies, labs and hospitals to address your health better.


Is honey good for acne?

Yes, to answer briefly. Honey has long been used as a topical treatment and is regarded for its healing abilities, particularly its ability to heal wounds and have antibacterial and antifungal effects.

Honey isn't a miracle cure-all for clearing up acne and keeping it from returning in the future. However, it is well renowned for its relaxing and natural antimicrobial properties. In addition, organic raw honey applied topically is superior to processed honey for the skin. These characteristics aid in soothing irritated acne lesions.

What happens if we eat honey daily?

If you consume it regularly, you'll quickly come to understand honey's genuine benefits, which people have been enjoying thanks to bees' tireless labour for centuries. If you consume honey daily, you can:

  • Boost your athletic performance, clear up your skin, and remove free radicals from your body
  • Prevent gaining more weight
  • Avoid bothersome hangovers
  • Sleep more soundly
  • Lower levels of LDL cholesterol 
  • Reduce uncomfortable acid reflux symptoms
  • Strengthen your heart, promote brain health, improve memory, maintain good digestive health, and prevent a cough
  • Reduce tension and ease worry
  • Strengthen your immune system

Is a spoonful of honey a day good for you?

The following nutritional information applies to a spoonful of honey (about 21 grammes):

  • 64 kcal of energy
  • 8.6 grammes of fructose, a type of carbohydrate
  • 17.3 grammes of total carbs
  • 0.06 grammes of protein
  • Minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, fluoride, and selenium are also present.
  • Vitamins in trace levels (such as vitamin C, folate, and B vitamins)
  • Various polyphenols or antioxidants

Honey should only be used in moderation because it contains sugar. Taking one spoonful of honey each day can improve your health in a variety of ways:

  • Fight inflammation and bacteria
  • Cough suppression 
  • Healing of burns and wounds
  • Cardiac health
  • Blood cholesterol management
  • Gum swelling and mouth sores healing
  • Managing hay fever and other seasonal allergens
  • Increases athletic performance soothes cold sores
  • Good-looking skin and hair
  • Digestive aid
  • Alleviates asthma
  • It helps treat ulcers in the stomach tract
  • Soothes sunburn

Can honey be used on wounds?

Ancient civilizations worldwide have used honey, including Egypt, China, Greece, and the Middle East. [2] It was sometimes used to cure wounds in addition to sore throats. There is mounting evidence that applying honey to wounds does aid in wound healing. In well-established medical facilities, it is often used by health professionals. Partial-thickness burns appear to heal faster with honey than with standard medicine. Medical-grade honey is sterilized (or irradiated) to remove spores and guarantee the absence of other pathogens.

Can honey be used on the face in case of redness?

Honey can be applied straight to the face, which might help reduce the redness. However, more study is needed to determine these potential effects of honey.

In some tests, honey was applied liberally to the face and kept overnight for roughly 4-5 hours. Most of the redness was discovered to be gone by the next day. People have also reported success treating face dermatitis, or seborrheic dermatitis, with a raw honey mask alone. [3]

Can honey be used during pregnancy?

Fortunately, you and your unborn child can enjoy this sweet, sticky delight. You might like this natural sweetener before, during, or after pregnancy, whether spooned into tea or drizzled over toast or yoghurt. 

Researchers have discovered no proof that kids born to pregnant women who contracted botulism had the disease, not even in rare instances. Something must get into your body through the placenta to harm your unborn child. Due to its high molecular weight, the botulinum toxin is unlikely to cross the placenta and reach your unborn child.

Is honey good for constipation?

One of the numerous advantages of honey is that it helps with constipation. Consuming honey can assist by promoting bowel movement and easing intestinal discomfort. Natural sugars included in honey, such as fructose and glucose, may have calming effects on the digestive system in addition to being gentle on the stomach. Hydrogen peroxide, another component of honey, can help the colon break down waste. Honey is frequently used to treat constipation due to its laxative properties.  

Published on 18 Jun 2021Last updated on 24 Apr 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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