At a glance......
Honey Health Benefits is a sweet viscous food substance produced by bees and some related insects. Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants (floral nectar) or other insects (aphid honeydew) through regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. Honey is stored in wax structures called honeycombs. The variety of honey produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the best-known, due to its worldwide commercial production and human consumption. Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from hives of domesticated bees, a practice known as beekeeping.
Natural honey contains about 200 substances, including amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, but it primarily contains sugar and water. Sugar accounts for 95–99% of honey dry matter. The principal carbohydrate constituents of honey are fructose (32.56 to 38.2%) and glucose (28.54 to 31.3 %), which represents 85–95% of total sugars that are readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract 
Other sugars include disaccharides such as maltose, sucrose, isomaltose turanose, nigerose, melibiose, panose, maltotriose, melezitose. A few oligosaccharides are also present. Honey contains 4 to 5% fructooligosaccharides, which serve as probiotic agents (5 , 6). Water is the second most important component of honey. Organic acids constitute 0.57% of honey and include gluconic acid which is a by-product of enzymatic digestion of glucose. The organic acids are responsible for the acidity of honey and contribute largely to its characteristic taste (7).
Types of Honey Health Benefits
There are about 320 different varieties of honey originating from various floral sources. The flavor, color, and odor of a specific type of honey are depending on the various liquid sources of the flowers and plants visited by the honey bee. Assorted types of honey are comparable in terms of temperature, rainfall, and seasonal and climatic changes. Honey color ranges from light brown to dark brown depending on where the honey bees buzzed
Types by packaging and processing
Generally, honey is bottled in its familiar liquid form. However, honey is sold in other forms and can be subjected to a variety of processing methods.
- Crystallized honey – occurs when some of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized from solution as the monohydrate. It is also called “granulated honey” or “candied honey”. Honey that has crystallized (or commercially purchased crystallized) can be returned to a liquid state by warming.
- Pasteurized honey – has been heated in a pasteurization process which requires temperatures of 161 °F (72 °C) or higher. Pasteurization destroys yeast cells. It also liquefies any microcrystals in the honey, which delays the onset of visible crystallization. However, excessive heat exposure also results in product deterioration, as it increases the level of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and reduces enzyme (e.g. diastase) activity. Heat also affects appearance (darkens the natural honey color), taste, and fragrance.
- Raw honey – is as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling, or straining, without adding heat (although some honey that has been “minimally processed” is often labeled as raw honey). Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small particles of wax.
- Strained honey – has been passed through a mesh material to remove particulate material (pieces of wax, propolis, other defects) without removing pollen, minerals, or enzymes.
- Filtered honey – of any type has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed. The process typically heats honey to 150–170 °F (66–77 °C) to more easily pass through the filter. Filtered honey is very clear and will not crystallize as quickly, making it preferred by the supermarket trade.
- Ultrasonicated honey – has been processed by ultrasonication, a nonthermal processing alternative for honey. When honey is exposed to ultrasonication, most of the yeast cells are destroyed. Those cells that survive sonication generally lose their ability to grow, which reduces the rate of honey fermentation substantially. Ultrasonication also eliminates existing crystals and inhibits further crystallization in honey. Ultrasonically aided liquefaction can work at substantially lower temperatures around 95 °F (35 °C) and can reduce liquefaction time to less than 30 seconds.
- Creamed honey – also called whipped honey, spun honey, churned honey, honey fondant, and (in the UK) set honey, has been processed to control crystallization. Creamed honey contains a large number of small crystals, which prevent the formation of larger crystals that can occur in unprocessed honey. The processing also produces a honey with a smooth, spreadable consistency.
- Dried honey – has the moisture extracted from liquid honey to create completely solid, nonsticky granules. This process may or may not include the use of drying and anticaking agents. Dried honey is used in baked goods, and to garnish desserts.
- Comb honey – is still in the honeybees’ wax comb. It is traditionally collected using standard wooden frames in honey supers. The frames are collected and the comb is cut out in chunks before packaging. As an alternative to this labor-intensive method, plastic rings or cartridges can be used that do not require manual cutting of the comb, and speed packaging. Comb honey harvested in the traditional manner is also referred to as “cut-comb honey”.
- Chunk honey is packed in wide-mouth containers consisting of one or more pieces of comb honey immersed in extracted liquid honey.
- Honey decoctions are made from honey or honey byproducts which have been dissolved in water, then reduced (usually by means of boiling). Other ingredients may then be added. (For example, mele has added citrus.) The resulting product may be similar to molasses.
- Baker’s honey is outside the normal specification for honey, due to a “foreign” taste or odor, or because it has begun to ferment or has been overheated. It is generally used as an ingredient in food processing. Additional requirements exist for labeling baker’s honey, including that it may not be sold labeled simply as “honey”.
Grading of Honey Health Benefits
In the US, honey grading is performed voluntarily (USDA does offer inspection and grading “as on-line (in-plant) or lot inspection…upon application, on a fee-for-service basis.”) based upon USDA standards. Honey is graded based upon a number of factors, including water content, flavor and aroma, the absence of defects, and clarity. Honey is also classified by color, though it is not a factor in the grading scale.
The honey grade scale is
|Grade||Soluble solids||Flavor and aroma||Absence of defects||Clarity|
|A||≥ 81.4%||Good—”has a good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is free from caramelized flavor or objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”||Practically free—” contains practically no defects that affect the appearance or edibility of the product”||Clear—”may contain air bubbles which do not materially affect the appearance of the product and may contain a trace of pollen grains or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not affect the appearance of the product”|
|B||≥ 81.4%||Reasonably good—”has a reasonably good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a reasonably good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is practically free from caramelized flavor and is free from objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”||Reasonably free—”may contain defects which do not materially affect the appearance or edibility of the product”||Reasonably clear—”may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not materially affect the appearance of the product”|
|C||≥ 80.0%||Fairly good—”has a fairly good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a fairly good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is reasonably free from caramelized flavor and is free from objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”||Fairly free—”may contain defects which do not seriously affect the appearance or edibility of the product”||Fairly clear—”may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not seriously affect the appearance of the product”|
|Substandard||Fails Grade C||Fails Grade C||Fails Grade C||Fails Grade C|
Other countries may have different standards on the grading of honey. India, for example, certifies honey grades based on additional factors, such as the Fiehe’s test, and other empirical measurements.
|Honey (Nutritional value per 100 g)|
|Other sugars||11.7 g|
|Dietary fiber||0.2 g|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.038 mg|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||0.121 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (Vit. B5)||0.068 mg|
|Pyridoxine (Vit. B6)||0.024 mg|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||0.002 mg|
|Vitamin C||0.5 mg|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,272 kJ (304 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||0.2 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Health Benefits of Honey
- Healing Effects – Honey is the oldest wound-healing agent known to mankind when some modern chemicals have failed in this regard. The experimental research illustrated more documents supporting its usage in wound healing because of its bioactivities including antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities. Honey induces leukocytes to release cytokines, which is what begins the tissue repair cascades. Furthermore, it actives immune response to infection. The stimulation of other properties of the immune response by honey is also reported (Proliferation of B- and T-lymphocytes and the phagocytes activity). Honey induces the generation of antibodies. Many evidence suggests the use of honey in the control and treatment of acute wounds and for mild to moderate superficial and partial thickness burns. Although some studies indicated the efficacy of honey in relation to wound treatment and leg ulcers, more studies are needed to strengthen the current evidence.
- Cure diabetes – There are strong pieces of evidence which indicate the beneficial effects of honey in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. These results point out the therapeutic prospects of using honey or other potent antioxidants as an adjunct to standard antidiabetic drugs in the control of diabetes mellitus. Regarding the restrictions associated with using of antioxidants, other interventions targeted at decreasing ROS generation may also be used as an adjunct to conventional diabetes therapy. In one of the clinical trials of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus, the application of honey was associated with dramatically lower glycemic index than with sucrose or glucose in type 1 diabetes and normal. Type 2 diabetes has values similar to honey, glucose, and sucrose. In the diabetic patients, honey can induce significantly a reduction in plasma glucose level versus dextran. In normal and hyperlipidemic patients, it also reduces blood lipids, homocysteine and C-reactive protein contents. However, several questions have been retained especially as it relates to the prospect of controlling diabetes mellitus by interventions that target both oxidative stress and hyperglycemia. Furthermore, the therapeutic effects of honey in the management of diabe tes may not only be restricted to controlling glycemia but also may be extended to ameliorating the associated metabolic complication diseases.
- Honey and fertility – Historically, Egyptians presented honey for fertility. Moreover, many cultures traditionally consumed honey for enhancement of vitality among males. It has been described that there are several causes of infertility and potential remedies. In view of rich content of vitamins, iron, calcium, other minerals amino acids and immune-enhancing properties, numerous observations have shown that honey bee pollen are thought to improve egg quality and general fertility and fecundity. Honey has been advised in men with problems of impotence and women with problems related to infertility including erratic ovulation. For infertile or sub-fertile men, a drink of honey added with warm milk is believed to improve considerable amount of sperm count. Honey is known to be rich in vitamin B, an essential substance for the production of testosterone. Some literature has acknowledged a positive correlation between honey intake and testosterone concentration. In men with dysfunctional erection or impotence, it has been theorized that given honey’s high content of nitric oxide – a chemical substance involved in vasodilatation, it can create and improve erection. It has been shown that an amount of 100 grams of honey is sufficient to increase nitric oxide levels in the blood by up to 50%. Complementary and alternative medicine teachings believe that honey improves sperm quality in men and strengthens the ovaries and uterus in women.
- Honey work as Anti Cancer Agent – Current studies show that honey may exert anticancer effects through several mechanisms. Investigations have indicated that honey has anticancer property through its interference with multiple cell-signaling pathways, including inducing apoptosis, antimutagenic, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory pathways. Honey modifies the immune responses. Honey has been indicated to prevent cell proliferation, induce apoptosis, modify cell cycle progression, and cause mitochondrial membrane depolarization in several types of cancer such as skin cancer cells (melanoma), adenocarcinoma epithelial cells, cervical cancer cells, endometrial cancer cells, liver cancer cells, colorectal cancer cells, prostate cancer cells, renal cell carcinoma, bladder cancer cells, human nonsmall cell lung cancer, bone cancer cells (osteosarcoma), and leukemia and mouth cancer cells (oral squamous cell carcinoma). In addition, honey could be able to inhibit several forms of tumor in animal modeling including breast cancer, carcinoma, melanoma, colon carcinoma, hepatic cancer, and bladder cancer. However, more studies are needed to improve our understanding of the positive effect of honey and cancer.
- Helpful for Asthma – Honey is commonly used in folk medicine to treat inflammation, cough, and fever. The ability of honey to act in reducing asthma-related symptoms or as a preventive agent to preclude the induction of asthma was showed. Chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma were treated by oral honey consumption in animal modeling. Furthermore, a study conducted by Kamaruzaman et al. showed that treatment with honey effectively inhibited ovalbumin-induced airway inflammation by reducing asthma-related histopathological changes in the airway and also inhibited the induction of asthma. Inhalation of honey was also discovered to effectively remove mucus-secreting goblet cell hyperplasia. However, future studies are needed to investigate these effects of honey to better understand the mechanisms by which honey reduces asthma symptoms.
- Helpful in Cardiovascular Diseases – Antioxidants present in honey such as flavonoids, polyphenolics, Vitamin C, and monophenols may be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular failures. In the coronary heart disease, the protective effects of flavonoids such as antioxidant, antithrombotic, anti-ischemic, and vasorelaxant and flavonoids reduce the risk of coronary heart disorders through three mechanisms: (a) improving coronary vasodilatation, (b) reducing the ability of platelets in the blood to clot, and (c) inhibiting low-density lipoproteins from oxidizing. Although there is a wide spectrum of antioxidant types, caffeic acid, quercetin, phenethyl ester, kaempferol, galangin, and acacetin predominate in different types of kinds of honey. Several investigations showed that certain honey polyphenols have a promising pharmacological function in reducing cardiovascular disorders. However, in vitro and in vivo research and clinical trials should be initiated to further validate these compounds in medical applications.
- Cure Neurological diseases – There is important scientific literature for the illustration of nutraceutical agents as novel neuroprotective therapies, and honey is one such promising nutraceutical antioxidant. Honey exerts anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, and antinociceptive effects and ameliorates the oxidative content of the central nervous system. Several studies on honey propose that honey polyphenols have nootropic and neuroprotective properties. Polyphenol ingredients of honey quench biological ROS that leads to neurotoxicity, aging, and the pathological deposition of misfolded proteins, including amyloid beta. Polyphenol ingredients of honey counter oxidative stress through excitotoxins, including quinolinic acid and kainic acid, and neurotoxins Furthermore, honey polyphenols constituents counter direct apoptotic challenges through amyloid beta, methyl mercury-induced and retinoid. Raw honey and honey polyphenol reduce the microglia-induced neuroinflammation that is induced through immunogenic neurotoxins or ischemic damage. Most significantly, honey polyphenols counter neuroinflammation in the hippocampus, a brain structure that is involved in memory. Honey polyphenols prevent memory disorders and induce memory production at the molecular level. Several types of research propose that the modifications of specific neural circuitry underlie the memory improving and neuropharmacological effects of honey. However, more studies are needed to determine the ultimate biochemical impact of honey on mitochondrial dysfunction, apoptosis, necrosis, excitotoxicity, and neuroinflammation and anxiolytic, antinociceptive, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant activities should be examined in further detail.
- Gastrointestinal diseases – Honey has been suggested as potentially useful for various conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, such as periodontal and other oral disorders, dyspepsia, and as part of oral rehydration therapy. In vitro studies propose that honey exerts bactericidal activity against Helicobacter pylori although a clinical trial of manuka honey therapy to induce Helicobacter eradication failed to indicate a beneficial treatment. In addition, honey may be effective as a part of oral rehydration therapy, and as a clinical trial, honey shows therapeutic effects in the treatment of infants and children admitted into the hospital with gastroenteritis indicated remarkably reduced duration of diarrhea in the honey-treated patients.
- Antioxidant activity of honey – Today, we know well that radicals cause molecular transformations and gene mutations in many types of organisms. Oxidative stress is well-known to cause many diseases [59 ], and scientists in many different disciplines became more interested in natural sources which could provide active components to prevent or reduce its impacts on cells . Natural honey contains many flavonoides (such as apigenin, pinocembrin, kaempferol, quercetin, galangin, chrysin and hesperetin), phenolic acids (such as ellagic, caffeic, p-coumaric and ferulic acids), ascorbic acid, tocopherols, catalase, superoxide dismutase, reduced glutathione, Maillard reaction products and peptides. Most of the above compounds work together to provide a synergistic antioxidant effect [ 61]. Hence, it has been suggested that honey, as a natural antioxidant, may serve as an alternative to some preservatives such as sodium tripolyphosphate in food preservation to delay lipid oxidation 
- Disorders of the Skin – The majority of clinical studies performed to date have investigated the efficacy of honey in the treatment of skin wounds. There is a paucity of clinical studies investigating the effects of honey on other types of skin disorders; however, some of the studies that have been carried out have produced positive results. Some of the psoriatic and atopic dermatitis patients received a honey mixture treatment in combination with corticosteroids and this allowed the concentration of corticosteroid to be reduced over time without exacerbation of symptoms.
- Weight Loss – Though it has more calories than sugar when consumed with warm water, honey helps in digesting the fat stored in your body. Similarly, honey with lemon juice or cinnamon helps in reducing weight.
- Boosts Energy – According to the USDA, honey contains about 64 calories per tablespoon. Therefore, it is used by many people as a source of energy. On the other hand, one tablespoon of sugar will give you about 15 calories. Furthermore, the in it can be easily converted into glucose, since it is very simple for the body to digest this pure and natural substance.
- Relieves Anxiety – Since honey can promote better sleep, it can be a good treatment for insomnia – which is one of the symptoms of anxiety. Research has shown that drinking warm tea with honey before bedtime can help relieve anxiety. The nutrients in honey also produce a calming effect, especially when you take it in significant amounts. And in addition to reducing anxiety, taking honey can also improve spatial memory in middle age (63).
- Reduces The Harmful Effects of Smoking – One study has found that intake of honey can reduce the testicular damage caused by cigarette smoking. It also combats the resultant oxidative stress (64). Some experts say that honey can also help one quit smoking – though we need more research in this regard.
- Benefits For The Skin – Applying honey on your face every day can have great benefits. Using a honey mask can aid in treating acne and dark spots. It also treats other issues like dry skin.
- Fights Acne – Honey absorbs the impurities from the skin pores and acts as a cleansing agent. And since it is a natural antiseptic, it also soothes and heals your skin. You have to simply apply honey on your face in a thin layer so that it doesn’t drip all over your neck. Leave it on for about 30 minutes, after which you can wash your face with normal water. But ensure you do a patch test before applying honey to your face as some individuals are allergic to honey. Apply a small amount on your jaw and leave it on for 30 minutes. If there is no reaction, you are good to go. Also, it is important to know that honey can treat your acne only if it is caused by bacterial infections.
- Helps Treat Wrinkles – Honey is a natural humectant, which means it moisturizes the top layers of the skin. This extra moisture can help improve wrinkles. It also soothes dry, irritated, and sensitive areas. Also, honey’s antioxidant properties help delay skin aging. For an anti-aging honey mask, you can mix a tablespoon of honey with an equal amount of papaya, whole milk, or yogurt. Apply the mixture on your face and leave it on for 30 minutes. You can also massage the mixture as you apply it as doing so improves blood circulation and tightens the skin. Remove the mask with warm water and pat your skin dry with a washcloth. Since honey is a natural moisturizer, it might aid in the treatment of acne scars. However, there is no concrete research to substantiate this.
- Softens Chapped Lips – Using just pure honey on the lips can help with this. Just dab some honey on your lips before going to bed and leave it on overnight. The honey is absorbed into the skin and makes your lips smooth and supple with daily application. Honey can also work well for cracked lips. But do contact your doctor first as using honey on the lips and leaving it on overnight carries the risk of botulism.
- Treats Dry Skin – The combination of honey and yogurt can help treat dry and flaky skin. Both have antibacterial properties that deeply cleanse the skin. And honey, being rich in antioxidants (and also a humectant), improves moisture levels of the skin. Mix 1 tablespoon of unsweetened and unflavored yogurt with 1 tablespoon of honey. Spread the mixture onto your face and keep it on for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
- Cleanses Skin – Honey helps remove dirt and grime from the skin. And it does it without stripping the natural oils. Just take about half a teaspoon of honey on your fingers. Warm it by rubbing between your fingers. You can also add a few drops of water for the desired consistency. Spread gently over your face and rinse with warm water. Pat your face dry. You can then use a toner to get the best results. Manuka honey can work great for this purpose. You just have to apply a thick layer of honey on the wart and keep it on for 24 hours
- Helps Whiten The Skin – Honey might help whiten your skin in numerous ways. Its antibacterial properties soothe inflammation and defend the skin from germs. It also moisturizes skin.
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