Recent study indicates the health benefits of honey
Consuming raw honey from a single floral source may improve blood sugar control and lower cholesterol levels when taken within the context of a healthy diet, according to a recent study.
The study was conducted by the University of Toronto in Canada and published in Nutrition Reviews.
"These results are surprising because honey is about 80% sugar," said Tauseef Khan, a senior researcher on the study and a research associate in nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, in a press release.
"We’re not saying you should start having honey if you currently avoid sugar," added Khan. "The takeaway is more about replacement," he said.
"If you’re using table sugar, syrup or another sweetener, switching those sugars for honey might lower cardio-metabolic risks," he said in the same release.
"Honey is a complex composition of sugars (common and rare), organic acids, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and bioactive substances made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers," the study’s authors noted.
Honey and sugar are both carbohydrates. This means they're made of glucose and fructose, but each has different nutrient, texture and flavor profiles, Emma Laing, PhD, RDN, told Fox News Digital.
She’s the director of dietetics at the University of Georgia and a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"Honey is touted as ‘healthier’ in some nutritional respects," she said. "However, sugar might be preferred based on taste and affordability."
When people consume too much sugar and sweetened foods, they may experience significant changes in blood sugar, feelings of gastrointestinal discomfort or an increased risk of tooth decay.
Laing also said that some people may have an allergic reaction to certain components of honey — and that honey is not safe for infants younger than 12 months of age.
A high intake of free sugars has contributed to an increase in obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to previous research.
Khan told Fox News Digital the size of reduction of glucose and cholesterol was "clinically very small."
"However, it does show that there is no harm [in taking honey] and a small reduction can also be beneficial in the long term."
Khan noted there is a difference between processed and raw honey in health benefits.
"Conventional processing of honey involves straining and filtering and then heating for a short period of time to reduce moisture and yeast," Khan told Fox News Digital.
This allows for easier manipulation of honey, he said, but actually damages the honey — and many of its bioactive compounds lose their effect. "Raw honey is strained and filtered but not heated," he said.
Khan suggested obtaining raw honey from local beekeepers or bee farms. Any floral honey, such as those from clover plants, as well as robinia, can be purchased, he added. "Robinia honey is usually sold by the name of Acacia Honey," he said.