Nutrition Articles

The Buzz on Honey

The Good-for-You Sweetener

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The results of recent research on honey have the nutrition world a-buzzing. Honey has joined the ranks of foods like chocolate, coffee, and eggs—foods once considered sinful that have recently been proven healthy (in moderation, of course). The majority of commonly-used sweeteners, like sugar and corn syrup, are referred to as “empty calories,” because they supply calories but are devoid of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. But honey is a sweet exception, as it has been found to contain small amounts of several micronutrients, making it a healthier alternative to those conventional sweeteners.

According to the National Honey Board, the nutrients in honey include niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. And recently, the discovery that honey is rich in antioxidants (substances that protect healthy tissue by destroying cell-damaging free radicals) has secured its place in healthy pantries worldwide. Antioxidants are thought to fight cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic conditions. In one study at the University of California Davis, research participants consumed about 4 tablespoons of honey daily along with eating their normal diets for one month. Blood tests revealed that this consumption raised the level of antioxidants in the bloodstreams of the participants. Generally, the highest levels of antioxidants come from the darkest colored honey.

Bees use nectar to make all types of honey, but the color and flavor of the honey will vary greatly depending on the type of flower blossoms the nectar came from. Honey can range from a very pale golden color to dark brown, and its flavor can vary just as much. There are over 300 varieties of honey in the United States alone, including alfalfa, avocado, buckwheat, and orange blossom. Generally, the darker the honey is, the bolder its flavor will be.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have a friend who was one of the "test subjects" for the UC Davis study! They had to drink that honey in a weird fruit punch every day. She said the fruit punch was nasty...but she lost four pounds during the honey part of the study. (They had to drink the same fruit punch sweetened with regular sugar during the other part of the study.) - 7/7/2014 11:40:58 AM
  • mmm...honey! Fresh from the farmer's market is the best :) - 5/20/2014 10:22:59 AM
  • I learned a lot. I love honey. :) - 1/6/2014 6:40:24 PM
  • CATHY65202
    The biggest difference between honey and refined sugar or artificial sweeteners is simple ... God made one and chemists made the others. Who you gonna trust? EVERYTHING in moderation and the more natural the better. - 5/20/2013 9:01:20 PM
  • I've always liked honey in my tea and thought it was a healthier choice but got information that it wasn't, now I'm hearing it is. They could have saved a lot of money on this research and just asked my mother.

    Now after reading this I want to go and watch The Secret Life of Bees. - 4/26/2013 8:08:11 PM
  • There used to be a company that had honey in a cardboard tub that was not highly processed but very delicious sadly I haven't seen it in years. I do like buckwheat honey but I confess I get tired of the taste after a while. - 4/6/2013 11:27:06 PM
  • Thanks for the reminder! - 3/3/2013 9:04:48 PM
  • I'm going to try honey instead of syrup - 3/3/2013 11:18:09 AM
  • I would like to see a little more information published on SparkPeople about Honey. Contrary to common thought, it is NOT processed just like sugar. Read about the fructose paradox if you need more information. Like with fruits and vegetables, the fructose and glucose from honey are absorbed simultaneously and play much less havoc with blood sugar levels. - 1/1/2013 9:57:57 AM
  • Interesting and informative. For years, when we took our son to college, we would stop at a roadside stand to purchase honey made by a woman in Guttenberg, Iowa. I still have some, and it needs to be heated to melt into useable form, but it is still as delicious as it was when it was fresh! - 6/18/2012 8:52:49 AM
  • HJBLAKESLEY
    Honey and cinnamon is a great throat/cough soother. - 2/24/2012 7:36:47 PM
  • It's great with hot water for a sore throat. - 2/24/2012 5:15:05 PM
  • One of my fav morning breakfasts in the summer is greek yogurt and raw honey. Mmmm love the stuff. - 2/24/2012 1:53:01 PM
  • As the study was funded by the National Honey Board, I'm a bit skeptical about the results. The micronutrients in honey are minute and make little nutritional difference, if any.

    Honey is tasty and versatile, but it's still, essentially, sugar. Your body will treat it that way. The caveats against people with sugar metabolism issues using honey are buried in the article. As with all things, a little from time to time is fine. - 2/24/2012 1:33:27 PM
  • APPROACHINGMARS
    I collect varietal honeys. It's amazing how different they all taste from each other, even though they're all just honey. The types I tend to stick to are forest, wildflower, and buckwheat. - 2/24/2012 11:37:46 AM

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