Honey is made by converting plant sugar rich nectar from flowers by bees.
Since it contains sugar, what should you know about honey and its potential affect on your health?
What Are The Health Benefits of Using Honey?
Seven experiments using honey were conducted by the researchers at the Dubai Specialized Medical Center in the United Arab Emirates. They compared honey with dextrose (glucose) and sucrose (table sugar) to measure their effects on blood sugar, inflammation, lipids, heart disease and cholesterol and triglycerides on three types of people: healthy, diabetic, and those with abnormally high lipids in their blood.
The results indicated four important health findings about honey:
- Honey raised blood sugar less than dextrose (glucose) and sucrose (glucose and fructose). It did raise blood sugar, but not as much.
- Honey reduced C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a marker associated with inflammation.
- Honey lowered LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides and raised HDL cholesterol.
- Honey lowered Homocysteine, an amino acid associated with heart disease and stroke.
The researchers concluded that “Honey reduces blood lipids, homocysteine, and CRP in normal and hyperlipidemic subjects. Honey compared with dextrose and sucrose caused lower elevation of PGL (plasma glucose level) in diabetics.”
Honey and Cancer
Extensive studies have been conducted with honey and its effect on the development of tumors and progression of cancers:
- Some honeys such as Tualang honey, target and kill breast and cervical cancer cells, leaving non-cancerous cells unharmed. The antiproliferative activity of Tualang honey had positive effects on oral squamous cell carcinoma cell lines.
- Honey revealed moderate antitumor and antimetastatic effects on murine tumors in laboratory studies.
- Honey played a role in inhibiting the growth of bladder cancer cell lines.
- Suppressing inflammation and inducing apoptosis of colon cancer lines was done by Gelam and Nenas honeys.
- Honey kills cancer cells in renal cell carinoma.
What Should You Know to Maximize the Full Benefits of Honey?
It is important to buy raw honey to gain the maximum health benefits from it. Buying local raw honey from beekeepers is the best way to guarantee you are buying the real thing.
In the supermarkets, the bottles on the shelves are probably raw honey which has been processed by the sugar refiners by heating up the honey over 120 degrees. This is done primarily to lessen the crystallization of the product so it remains easier to pour for a longer period of time. However, it removes the health benefits of the raw honey.
In addition, processed sugars are added to raw honey to change the color, flavor and sweetness. Some of these added sugars are beet sugar and high fructose corn syrup. In our blog on sugar, we noted that it is important to read labels to find any added sugars which could potentially impact your health. There are no FDA rules governing the labeling of raw honey. It is a self-regulated voluntarily industry.
What is Raw Honey and Where Can I Buy It?
Commercial honey, that which is usually found on the grocery shelves, has been processed by heating above 120 degrees and pressed through micro filters. This enhances the clarity of the honey but removes much of the nutritional value.
Raw honey can be purchased in a couple different forms. One is honey which has not been strained, removing wax and other particles, and has not been commercially heated. The other is honey which has been strained, removing the hive particles, and has been gently heated.”