How sweet it is: the benefits of honey on your overall health

Honey is not just for the bees anymore.  The benefits of this natural sweetener are still being discovered; however, there have been some significant positives linked to regular usage of honey.  A readily available resource, honey has been traced back to a link with the ancient Egyptians who used it for wound healing, as well as a cherished offering to their gods.

Shape Magazine and WebMD highlighted ways to use honey in your every day life and the most beneficial factors it provides for your overall health:

  • Immune Booster: Polyphenols, which are specific types of antioxidants, are pretty prevalently found in honey and can protect cells from damage.  Additionally, honey can be a contributor to heart health.
  • Digestive Aid: Although the benefits of honey on your digestive tract are still being researched and discovered, preliminary findings have shown that using this natural sweetener over the sugar found in processed foods assisted in improving the overall acids of the stomach.
  •  Acne Treatment: As elaborated on below, Manuka honey can also use its medicinal qualities as an anti-inflammatory to reduce the swelling of acne and help clear the bacteria and infection, as well.
  • Mosquito Bite Relief: Yet another benefit of honey’s anti-inflammatory qualities, using the sweetener for relief of pesky mosquito bites can lessen the effects of itching and irritation.
  • Mild Cough Suppressant: Recent studies have found that honey can be used to treat mild coughs as a result of upper respiratory infections in children ages one to five.  The honey has been shown to have better results than other cough syrups for suppressing the cough and aiding in consistent sleep.  Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that doctors strongly caution against giving honey to infants and children under the age of one year because of a certain bacteria that undeveloped immune systems cannot yet block.
  • Wound Healing and Skin Ailments: Manuka honey, which is a honey produced from bees that pollinate the manuka bush in New Zealand, is most commonly used as a medicinal honey for wound healing.  Scientists have discovered the benefits of using honey as a component in wound healing because of the antibacterial qualities present.  However, not all honey carries the same antibacterial qualities, nor the same concentration of said qualities. Manuka honey is used for wound healing because of the higher concentration of the needed compounds.  Since hydrogen peroxide exists naturally in honey because of an enzyme that bees carry, honey aids in burns (albeit painfully), scrapes and incisions as well.

Aside from the medical benefits honey provides, it can also be a good alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners because of its pure and natural presence.  Another great thing about eating honey is the option to enjoy it in any of its different forms.  In its purest form, one can enjoy a honeycomb on apples or as an addition to any cheese plate.  To enjoy as more of a buttery-spread, creamed honey can top English muffins or scones.  As a syrup alternative for pancakes, varietal honey is available in hundreds of different flavors based upon the type of flowers the bees find nectar from.  Raw honey can also be enjoyed on different squashes or sweet potatoes as an alternative to brown sugar (or marshmallows).

What other unique ways have you used honey before?

Photo credit: Hillary Stein

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