Pot of honey

As delicious as honey tastes, it does a lot more than just sweeten your tea and baked goods: this delightful treat has some surprising additional uses.

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What’s in Honey?

Before diving into the health benefits of honey, let’s explore exactly what makes up this sweet stuff. A tablespoon of honey contains about 17 grams of sugar. The types of sugar you’ll find in honey typically include fructose, maltose, glucose, and sucrose. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Composition Database reports a total of 96 nutrients in this tasty treat.

Health Benefits of Honey

Honey can be a healthy part of a balanced diet and your personal care regimen, plus have a place in your medicine cabinet. Here’s how.

Nutrition

  • Honey contains different antioxidants, depending on the flowers from which the bees’ nectar comes. In general, darker honey has more antioxidants than its lighter colored counterpart, according to the National Institutes of Health.
  • Trying to reduce your processed sugar intake? Honey tastes sweeter than table sugar, so you can use less of it.
  • Honey is a great energy booster, packing in 17 grams of carbohydrates per teaspoon. It also has B vitamins, which help your body make energy.

Personal Care

  • Did you know honey benefits your skin and hair? It attracts and holds in moisture, making it a great boost to your regular moisturizer.
  • Because of its dermatological benefits, honey is now included in many popular, natural alternatives to traditional products — like lip balm, cleansing milk, sunburn treatment, shampoo, and conditioner.

Healing and Illness Prevention

  • Honey’s benefits also extend to the treatment of minor scrapes, cuts, and burns. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties soothe and protect injuries like these from infection.
  • You can also use honey to treat skin conditions, including pityriasis, tinea, dandruff, diaper rash, psoriasis, rosacea, hemorrhoids, seborrhea, acne, and anal fissures.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends honey to soothe coughs. It’s a treatment that also can lead to better sleep for the whole family during cold season.

Is Honey Healthy? Yes and No

While honey can provide you with many advantages, it can be dangerous for infants younger than a year old due to their immature digestive and immune systems.

Also, remember to eat honey in moderation. Eating too much honey can raise your blood sugar, just as having too much processed, granulated, or powdered sugar can. Based on advice from the American Heart Association, men should limit their intake of added sugars to nine teaspoons a day, while women should have no more than six teaspoons per day.

Consider incorporating honey into your meals, your personal care routine, or your first aid kit to experience its rewards for yourself.

Want to learn more about honey’s health benefits? Visit Nutrition Services at UPMC or call 412-692-4497 to make an appointment.

Sources

United States Department of Agriculture, Food Composition Database, https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6287?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=35&sort=&qlookup=honey&offset=&format=Full&new=&measureby=

National Institutes of Health, Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5424551/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Symptom Relief, https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/symptom-relief.html

American Heart Association, Added Sugars, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars