Natural sugars, like honey, have actually been shown to provide numerous health benefits. Before you swear off sugar forever, here are a few good reasons to keep it in your diet.
1. Honey can improve gut health
A subgroup of bacteria called bifidobacteria is thought to help maintain optimal gut health. These good bacteria can be increased when you eat the prebiotics. A prebiotic helps stimulate the growth of good bacteria while suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria. One of the most common prebiotics are called oligosaccharides, many of which are found in honey. Research conducted at Michigan State University has shown that adding honey to fermented dairy products (like Greek yogurt) can help with the grown, activity, and viability of bifidobacteria.
2. Honey provides antioxidants
Honey contains a wide variety of flavonoids and phenolic acids. These phytochemicals have been shown to act as antioxidants.
The antioxidants found in honey depend on the type of plants the bee was pollinating. As a general rule, the darker the honey, the more antioxidants it contains. Researchers at the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana looked at the antioxidant capacity (called ORAC) of various types of honey. The results showed that buckwheat honey (which is darker in color) had over 5½ times the ORAC compared to acacia honey (a very light colored honey derived from acacia flowers).
3. It’s a source of energy
Nutrient-filled foods like oatmeal, bran, or plain yogurt aren’t very flavorful on their own. Adding sugar, just a small amount, can help make these healthy foods more palatable. Honey provides 64 calories per tablespoon compared to 46 calories found in the same amount of table sugar. Although, based on calories alone, you may think that table sugar is the better choice, honey is sweeter than table sugar so you can use a fraction of the amount.
4. Honey can help relieve irritation of a sore throat
Honey has been used for hundreds of years to help alleviate symptoms of the common cold. Although it won’t make the cold disappear or cure allergies, a study published in Pediatrics found that a spoonful of honey can help relieve the irritation of a sore throat.
To get the health benefits of honey, try these healthy recipes that use honey in small, moderate portions of the sweet stuff.