Honey is quite possibly a miracle food. It never goes bad and is sweeter than sugar without any of the dangers. It also tastes delicious. However, the kind of honey you buy at the grocery store might not be as beneficial as it could be. Commercial honey has been heated and processed since being harvested.
Raw honey, on the other hand, is neither diluted nor pasteurized before consumption. It’s in the exact same state as it was when it was harvested from the beehive. To some, this may sound unappetizing or even unhygienic. And to a degree, there is some truth: raw honey still contains bee pollen and other foreign ingredients. The pollen itself, however, is exactly why so many swear by raw honey.
In a study detailed in Annals of Saudi Medicine, eating raw honey can actually help prevent allergic reactions. The key is the bee pollen, which has been linked to improved immunity and infection prevention. Because the bee visits a large number of plants in a localized area when gathering pollen, a small bit of the pollen that causes allergies may end up in the honey. By eating local raw honey*, you’re exposing your body to a small amount of the allergen and building up an immunity. It’s similar to how a flu shot works.
Raw honey is also a helpful tool for those managing their weight. The University of Wyoming concluded after a case study that the food can actually suppress appetite by activating certain hormones. San Diego State University, meanwhile, found that replacing sugar with honey can lower overall sugar consumption (which helps with weight control) and lower blood sugar. (So yes, there are some benefits processed honey still possess.)
For those looking to lose weight through exercise, raw honey is still an awesome choice for pre-workout snack. The composition is mostly natural sugar, which provides a lot of energy to the consumer. Studies at the University of Michigan Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory back this up, saying that it’s the ideal carbohydrate for pre-exercise munching. It’s also great at energy recovery, so indulge both before and after hitting the gym.
There are also the antioxidants to consider. Honey contains polyphenols, which have been proven to reduce risk of heart disease and even cancer. In a study conducted over 29 days, participants who had eaten honey each day had higher levels of polyphenols in their bloodstream than those who did not. Honey also houses pinocembrin, pinostrobin, and chrysin. All three fight various diseases and boost other functions in the body, although tests with chrysin are inconclusive.
While these are the biggest selling points of raw honey, there are plenty of other benefits. The melatonin in the food will help you fall asleep at night. Honey is already well-known for its healing properties, making it great for cuts and burns. As previously stated, raw honey helps lower blood sugar, making at boon for sweet—toothed diabetics. It can even be used as a cough syrup.
Raw honey is not devoid of dangers. Those with allergies to bees, celery, and pollen should avoid in case of an allergic reaction. It shouldn’t be served to infants under the age of 12 months. And overconsumption could lead to dizziness, vomiting, and sweating. (Yes, honey toxicity is a thing.) But with few downsides to the powerhouse that is raw honey, it’s a wonder why more haven’t made the switch. Honey is the all-natural superfood, and it’s about time we start eating it the way nature intended.
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*Note that only local raw honey will work in this scenario, as it has the pollen you want to combat. Non-local raw honey won’t have the same effect.