What Are the Health Benefits of Raw Honey?

Medically Reviewed By Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D.
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Raw honey is a natural sweetener that has been around for thousands of years. It has been used in traditional medicine and is a popular alternative to refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. Raw honey is a natural, unprocessed form that comes straight from the beehive. It has not undergone any filtering or heating. All the natural enzymes, nutrients, and beneficial compounds remain, retaining many health benefits.

This article looks at the health benefits of eating raw honey. It also discusses how to eat raw honey and how much is safe to eat, as well as when to contact a doctor for advice.

What are the health benefits of eating raw honey?

There is honeycomb against a yellow background.
Martí Sans/Stocksy United

Raw honey is a natural remedy for various health conditions, from seasonal allergies and sore throats to wounds and burns. Here are some of the most common honey health benefits:

Antioxidants 

Antioxidant molecules help protect your body from free radicals. These unstable molecules attack healthy cells and cause oxidative stress, leading to chronic inflammation and illness. Free radicals are also one of the leading causes of aging and cancer

Raw honey also contains important antioxidants such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, which have been linked to improved heart health.

Anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is a standard part of the body’s immune response. Still, when it becomes chronic, it can lead to many health conditions, such as heart disease and arthritis.

Phenolic acids in raw honey may reduce inflammation and help prevent inflammation-related diseases.

Preventing seasonal allergies

A 2020 study found that eating raw honey may help treat and prevent allergic conditions, including seasonal allergies, by reducing inflammation and strengthening your immune system.

Raw honey has also been shown to reduce the amount of histamine in your body, which causes allergic reactions such as sneezing, congestion, and itching.

More research is needed into the types of allergies raw honey may alleviate.

Healing wounds and burns

Raw honey has been used since ancient times to treat cuts, burns, and abrasions.

The enzymes in raw honey can help speed up the healing process by breaking down dead tissue and killing bacteria, which helps prevent the wound from becoming infected while healing.

Manuka honey is considered effective for treating burns because it contains methylglyoxal, which has been shown to have antimicrobial activity against certain bacteria.

Rich in nutrients

Raw honey is rich in nutrients that may help boost your immune system and promote overall health. These nutrients include:

  • calcium
  • iron
  • potassium
  • niacin
  • riboflavin

According to Food Data Central, 20 grams (g) of honey, or around 1 tablespoon, contains:

  • Protein: 0.06 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16.5 g
  • Fiber: 0.04 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sugars: 16.4 g
  • Calories: 60.8 kcal

However, these values may differ depending on the batch and brand of raw honey. It’s important to read product labels for more accurate nutritional information.

Boosts digestion and gut health

Raw honey contains natural enzymes that aid in digestion and provide energy. It also helps your body absorb vitamins and minerals from other foods.

In addition, raw honey may help alleviate diarrhea. A study of 80 children with diarrhea showed that children who received honey and zinc gluconate recovered faster than those who received only zinc gluconate.

Boosts immunity

Studies have shown that eating raw honey can help prevent illness by strengthening your immune system and increasing white blood cell production during immune responses.

It also contains antioxidants and enzymes that help fight off the bacteria and viruses that cause colds or flu by boosting white blood cells’ ability to fight infection.

Antibacterial and antifungal properties

Raw honey contains hydrogen peroxide and glucose oxidase, which act as antimicrobial agents against bacteria, fungi, and other harmful microorganisms.

Research has shown that manuka honey can be effective against some bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), which causes skin infections, and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), which may cause stomach ulcers.

Aids brain function

The antioxidants in raw honey help protect your brain from free radicals to reduce cognitive aging. This can help reduce your risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Relieves an upper respiratory tract infection

The anti-inflammatory properties in raw honey can help reduce swelling in your throat. This can provide relief from an upper respiratory tract infection.

Is raw honey safe to eat daily?

It is important to eat raw honey in moderation. Raw honey without added sugars is a better alternative to honey that contains added sugars.

How should I eat raw honey?

Eating raw honey is one of the best ways to get all its health benefits. There are many ways to consume raw honey, including:

  • Raw and unfiltered: This is the most natural way to eat honey. It hasn’t been processed or filtered in any way.
  • In your tea or coffee: Adding raw honey to tea or coffee is a great way to sweeten it and may make it easier to swallow if you have a sore throat or upper respiratory tract infection.
  • As a sweetener for cereal: Honey is sweeter than granulated sugar, so you can use less of it as a sweetener for cereal or other foods like yogurt or oatmeal.
  • Add it to smoothies, juices, or nut milk: Adding raw honey to drinks with other health benefits can help improve digestion and boost energy levels while providing a good dose of antioxidants and minerals.
  • Use it as a marinade for chicken or fish: Adding raw honey to marinade for chicken or fish is a great way to add flavor while also adding nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Use it on toast or waffles instead of syrup: This will give you a quick burst of energy while also giving your body some much-needed antioxidants.

Who should not eat raw honey?

Raw honey is generally a good alternative to sugar for most people, but it’s not for everyone. This includes babies under the age of 1 year and people allergic to bee pollen.

Honey can affect blood sugar levels. It is important to treat honey like any added sugar, particularly if you have diabetes.

How should I store raw honey?

To keep raw honey’s natural taste and freshness, you need to store it properly.

Store your raw honey in a cool, dark place. Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from any heat-producing appliances.

If possible, always store your honey in an airtight container made of glass. Raw honey is prone to absorbing moisture from the air and can quickly become clumpy or develop mold if left exposed.

Do not store your honey in a metal container because this can cause honey to oxidize. If you use a plastic container, it is important to make sure it is food safe.

When should I see a doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have an infected wound. Raw honey can help with the healing process, but it may not cure an infection.

You should also contact your doctor if you experience signs of an infection, such as:

  • pain or swelling around the wound
  • redness or warmth around the wound
  • drainage from the wound site
  • a cut or scrape that won’t heal
  • an infection like fever with a sore throat

Seek medical advice as soon as possible to ensure the best treatment for your condition.

Your doctor can suggest treatments for allergies, respiratory tract infections, and others.

For more information on the benefits of raw honey, your doctor can refer you to a dietitian.

FAQ

Here are some more frequently asked questions about raw honey.

Is raw honey a superfood?

Raw honey can be considered a superfood because it is a major source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Is a teaspoon of raw honey a day good for you?

According to the American Heart Association, raw honey may not be ideal for daily consumption because it is another form of sugar. You should consume raw honey in moderation.

When should I take raw honey?

You can take raw honey at any time during the day. There is no evidence to suggest that taking honey at certain times of the day is more beneficial.

Summary

Raw honey contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and antimicrobial properties, which are beneficial for health. It’s not pasteurized or heated, so it retains many enzymes and nutrients in the honeybee’s nectar.

Raw honey also contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, which boost the immune system.

Contact your doctor if you have a health concern, particularly a wound or infection. It is important to receive treatment advice before using raw honey. Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian if you need more information on raw honey and your health.

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Medical Reviewer: Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 24
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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