Honey Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits (2023)

Honey is a source of natural sugar. Honey can complement a healthy eating plan and offer some intriguing benefits when used in moderation. However, honey is not a food that should be overused, especially if you have diabetes, because it is high in sugar and calories. Here's the buzz on honey's nutrition facts and scientific research.

Honey Nutrition Facts

The USDA provides the following honey nutrition facts information for 1 tablespoon (21 grams) of honey.

  • Calories:64
  • Fat:0g
  • Sodium:0mg
  • Carbohydrates:17g
  • Fiber:0g
  • Sugars:17g
  • Protein:0.1g
  • Potassium: 10.9mg
  • Iron: 0.1mg
  • Calcium: 1.3mg

Carbs

The calories in honey come from carbohydrates, specificallysugar. The sugar in honey is about 50% glucose and 50% fructose. The glycemic index of honey is estimated to be around 60. A teaspoon has a glycemic load of approximately 3.5. For comparison, the glycemic index of table sugar (sucrose) is 65.

Fats

There is no fat in honey.

Protein

Honey contains trace amounts ofprotein, but not enough to contribute to your daily protein requirements.

Vitamins and Minerals

The vitamins and minerals in honey may include B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, and others, which are mainly derived from the soil and nectar‐producing plants. The quality of honey and its mineral content are determined by where it is grown and how it is processed.

Generally, darker honey provides more vitamins and minerals than pale honey, but honey is usually consumed in such small amounts that it will not significantly contribute to meeting your daily vitamin and mineral needs.

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Calories

A tablespoon of honey provides 64 calories, almost all of which come from carbohydrate in the form of sugar.

Health Benefits

Certain varieties of honey have been shown to offer promising healing powers. When applying these characteristics to everyday life, it's essential to balance honey's purported health benefits with the nutritional cost (high sugar content).

Also, it is important to remember that honey is often consumed in small quantities that may not be equivalent to amounts used in studies to investigate potential benefits.

May Soothe a Cough

Research suggestshoney may helpcalm a cough. A review of six studies treating coughs in children found that a spoonful of honeysuppresses a coughas well as dextromethorphan—the cough suppressant found in Robitussin DM—and better than Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or no treatment. The research also found honeymay provide longer relief than Albuterol (salbutamol).

May Promote Regularity

Studies have suggested that honey might have a positive impact on the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers theorize that phytochemicals and flavonoids may help aid digestive processes in the body. But so far studies that support this benefit are limited in size and scope.

For instance, one study involving rats showed that raw honey soothed the stomach and reduced diarrhea and constipation symptoms. Honey reduces the severity and duration of viral diarrhea better than conventional antiviral treatment. But the benefit has not been replicated in humans.

May Support Reproductive Health

A type of honey called royal jelly, has numerous effects on female reproductive health. Royal jelly has been found to reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms.

The antioxidants in royal jelly may help reduce oxidative damage associated with the aging of the ovaries. Preliminary animal studies also suggest that royal jelly improves sperm quality for men. Although promising, this effect has yet to be proven in humans.

Aids Wound Healing

Propolis, a component in honey, is made up of 50% resin, 30% wax, 10% essential oils, 5% pollen, and 5% other organic compounds. Propolis suppresses the activity of free radicals and promotes the synthesis of collagen, both beneficial for wound healing.

The ability of propolis to promote wound healing has been suggested for diabetic foot ulcers and certain types of acne when used topically.

May Reduce Cancer Risk

Honey may impact the development of cancer during multiple stages of the progression of the disease. Honey has been shown to induce tumor cell apoptosis (cell death), reduce inflammation, and inhibit tumor growth in in-vitro (test tube) studies.

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Studies in humans have yet to show this benefit. Although honey is not an effective treatment for cancer in itself, preliminary studies suggest the need for further investigation.

Allergies

Honey is not a common allergen. However, case studies of anaphylaxis caused by honey have been reported. Anaphylaxis from the consumption of honey is an IgE-mediated reaction (a true food allergy).

Propolis can be a contact allergen for those involved in the collection of honey. If you suspect an allergy to honey, see your healthcare provider for a full evaluation.

Adverse Effects

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to never give honey to babies during the first year of life. It is a potential source of botulism-causing spores which can lead to severe illness in young babies.

If you are on a low-sugar or low-carbohydrate eating plan for medical reasons, you should limit your intake of honey. Honey is almost pure sugar (carbohydrates). Despite its associated health benefits, honey still raises blood glucose levels and must be accounted for when considering total carbohydrate intake.

Varieties

There are more than 300 varieties of honey in the United States, each originating from unique flower sources or different climate conditions. Examples include clover honey, wildflower honey, orange blossom honey, buckwheat honey, avocado honey, and alfalfa honey.Honey purchased from the store may be raw or pasteurized.

  • Raw honey comes directly from the beehive and is notprocessed,heated, or pasteurized. Raw honey calories are the same as pasteurized varieties.
  • Pasteurized honey is filtered and processed to create a clear-looking product that is easier to package and pour.

Pasteurization may eliminate some of the trace minerals associated with honey's health benefits. If the food label specifies "pure honey," that means no other substances were added during food processing.

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When It's Best

For maximum nutrition, choose raw honey from a local farmer's market. If you enjoy the taste of honey, go for the darker varieties, which have a stronger flavor, allowing you to use less of it for the same taste effect. Honey can be found at any time of the year packaged in glass or plastic bottles.

Storage and Food Safety

Raw and processed honey should be stored below 32 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent crystallization and color/aroma changes.Honey is naturally antimicrobial but should be protected from outside moisture.

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The general recommendation for the shelf-life of honey is two years, however, this can vary. Airtight, sanitized containers help preserve the shelf-life and safety of honey.

How to Prepare

Honey is a versatile sweetener, so there are countless ways to use it in the kitchen. However, some cooks struggle when they cook with honey because it can be messy. Spray your spoon or measuring cup with cooking spray first so that the honey slides off with no mess and no fuss.

When substituting honey for granulated sugar in recipes, it's important to remember that honey has a stronger flavor, greater acidity, and higher moisture content than sugar.

Baking experts recommend using 1/2 to 3/4 cup of honey for each cup of sugar in the recipe, and also reducing the liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of sugar replaced. In addition, if the recipe does not already include baking soda, add 1/4 teaspoon for each cup of sugar replaced. You should also lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and watch carefully for doneness.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the health benefits of honey?

    Honey is a source of quick energy and may have some health benefits such as soothing coughs and wound healing. There's also some evidence honey can improve symptoms of PMS.

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  • Is honey better for you than sugar?

    Honey is not better for you than sugar, although it may provide some health benefits that sugar does not. Normal serving sizes of honey are not likely to provide enough health benefits to warrant it being a better nutritional choice than white sugar.

  • Is a spoonful of honey a day good for you?

    Consuming a spoonful of honey each day will not provide any noticeable health benefits. However, some research shows a spoon of honey may help relieve irritable throat if you have a cough.

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FAQs

What is the health benefits of honey? ›

Studies suggest that honey might offer antidepressant, anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety benefits. In some studies, honey has been shown to help prevent memory disorders. Wound care. Topical use of medical-grade honey has been shown to promote wound healing, particularly in burns.

What nutrients does honey contain answer? ›

Some of the vitamins found in honey include ascorbic acid, pantothenic acid, niacin and riboflavin; along with minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

What are the top 10 health benefits of honey? ›

Here are the top 10 health benefits of honey.
  • Honey contains nutrients beneficial to health. ...
  • Raw honey is rich in antioxidants. ...
  • Using honey to replace table sugar helps improve diabetes. ...
  • The antioxidants in honey help lower blood pressure. ...
  • Honey helps improve cholesterol. ...
  • Honey helps reduce triglyceride levels.

Is a spoonful of honey a day good for you? ›

Taking one spoonful of honey every day can have numerous benefits to your health. Honey has been used for its nutritional value since ancient times. It has also been found to be beneficial in the treatment of many clinical conditions. The main nutrients in honey are carbohydrates in the form of glucose and fructose.

Does honey increase blood pressure? ›

However, honey itself is another form of sugar, and it should be consumed only in moderation, experts say. Studies show added sugars can be empty calories that increase the risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and cavities.

What Does a spoonful of honey every morning do? ›

Usually the doctors recommend honey to be taken empty stomach early in the morning as it gives an instant kick and energy boost which is enough to counter an entire day. Also, while going to bed, a spoonful of honey not only gives a good night's sleep but also helps in digestion and relaxation of mind and body.

Why is honey a Superfood? ›

Health Benefits

Boosts immunity: Raw honey has antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help boost your immune system and fight sickness. Honey also contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Is honey Healthy yes or no? ›

Honey has been linked to health benefits like improved heart health, wound healing, and blood antioxidant status. However, consuming too much may cause adverse effects due to its high sugar and calorie content. Thus, it's best to use honey to replace other forms of sugar and enjoy it in moderation.

Which is healthier sugar or honey? ›

"Honey's advantages over sugar include a slightly lower glycemic index (i.e. it doesn't affect your blood-sugar levels as much)," Dr. Dixon says. "It also contains more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as calcium, potassium, vitamin C, zinc, phenolic acids, and flavonoids."

Is honey good for brain function? ›

These studies show that Tualang honey improves morphology of memory-related brain areas, reduces brain oxidative stress, increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and acetylcholine (ACh) concentrations, and reduces acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in the brain homogenates.

How much honey per day is healthy? ›

“Honey should be treated like all added sugars, something to include in your diet carefully and kept to a minimum,” Keating says. The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) per day; women and children, no more than six teaspoons (24 grams) daily.

How quickly does honey lower blood pressure? ›

Honey significantly (p = 0.05) decreased SBP from 117.80±0.88 to 110.20±2.14 after 15 minutes of honey intake, the significant (p = 0.05) decrease was maintain after 30 minutes of honey consumption at 111.33±2.14, and it was also observed after 60 minutes of honey intake at 110.4±2.08.

Is raw honey safe for elderly? ›

The antioxidants in honey help fight several chronic conditions seniors face as they age. Your loved one should eat darker honey for maximum antioxidants. Honey also contains nutraceuticals, which help remove free radicals from the body and can protect against heart disease and even cancer.

Can honey raise your cholesterol? ›

Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Honey has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 6%, triglyceride levels by 11%, and potentially boost HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Is honey good for your arteries? ›

In fact, a new study published on November 16, 2022, in the journal Nutrition Reviews found that eating honey in moderation may reduce inflammation and slash your cardiometabolic risk—factors that increase your chances of developing heart disease and diabetes.

What happens to your body when you start eating honey? ›

Honey boosts your metabolism, which is essential for weight loss. Honey is an excellent antioxidant, which means its regular consumption will cleanse your body of various toxins. In addition, its antibacterial properties will considerably improve the condition of your skin. Honey has no cholesterol at all.

What are the 5 benefits of honey? ›

Honey is primarily composed of sugar, provides small amounts of several vitamins and minerals, and is rich in health-promoting plant compounds.
  • Rich in antioxidants. ...
  • Better for blood sugar levels than regular sugar. ...
  • May improve heart health. ...
  • Promotes burn and wound healing. ...
  • May help suppress coughing in children.

Is honey good for your stomach? ›

Honey has a long history of use for the treatment of digestive ailments. Certain honey types have well-established bioactive properties including antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities.

Is honey good for you when you're sick? ›

If winter brings you a sore throat and coughing, a spoonful of honey can be quite soothing. And it might even reduce symptoms from an upper respiratory tract infection, suggests a review of studies published online Aug. 18, 2020, by BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.

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