Can adding bee pollen to your diet really improve your health?
Bee pollen, honey, royal jelly, and other bee-derived food products are the latest health craze — and many claim adding these to your diet can help improve your overall health. We asked our experts to look at just how healthy these bee products are.
Bee pollen, also known as buckwheat pollen, comes from the plant pollen and nectar collected by worker bees, though it can also contain bee saliva. Bee pollen can be found in many health food stores and is often used as an alternative form of medicine for conditions including:
The problem? Not enough research has been done to definitively prove bee pollen’s healing properties.
While bee pollen can be used as an herbal supplement, health risks are associated with its use, including hives, itchiness, swelling of the face, lips and tongue, and difficulty breathing.
If you have a pollen allergy or are pregnant or breastfeeding, you shouldn’t ingest bee pollen. If you’re taking prescription medicines, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Royal jelly is a milky white substance that’s essential for the growth of the queen bee. Like bee pollen, it’s produced by worker bees.
One of the most common uses for royal jelly is treating symptoms of menopause, but it has also been reported to treat:
- High cholesterol
- Stomach ulcers
- Liver or kidney disease
- Skin disorders
As with bee pollen, more research needs to be done to prove the effectiveness of royal jelly in treating these conditions. In some cases, royal jelly can actually be harmful, so talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or a registered dietitian before adding this into your diet. For example, people with certain allergies, asthma, or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use royal jelly.
Of all the bee products on the market, we’re probably most familiar with honey.
Made by honey bees from the nectar of flowers, honey is an everyday kitchen item with a variety of uses.
Some people prefer to use honey in place of sugar in their coffee or tea. Keep in mind, honey is about 70 to 80 percent sugar so you should be mindful of the portions you’re using.
Honey can be used to treat:
- Cold symptoms
Like bee pollen and royal jelly, the verdict is still out on just how effective honey is at treating these common health ailments, or how healthy honey is for our diets. It’s important to remember you should never give honey to children under 12 months of age.
Learn more by visiting the UPMC Nutrition Services webpage.