NUTRITION

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

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

B
Bajaj Finserv Health
June 18th, 2021
12 mins read

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 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. 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. 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.   

The myriad benefits of honey

Based on the nutrition facts of honey, this elixir can very well be termed as 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. 

Purpose

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 movements  Honey 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.  

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. 

benefits of honey

Consumption of honey: What to watch out for

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 

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.  

Types of honey and best way to store it

There are two kinds of honey: raw and pasteurised.

  • 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. 

  • Pasteurised honey 

Pasteurised 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 pasteurised 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.

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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