Sweet It Up with Honey

Sweet It Up with Honey

Honey is getting a lot of buzz these days. It’s a syrupy liquid that honeybees make from plant nectar. Beloved worldwide for its sweetness and depth of flavor, honey is used in many foods and recipes. The smell, color, and taste of different kinds of honey can vary greatly and depend on the types of flowers bees use to produce them, which means there are countless varieties available. Beyond tasting good, honey also has potent health benefits and is an essential ingredient in many home remedies and alternative medicines.

We’ll explore some of the best uses for honey and consider the science behind the potential health benefits of this amazing food. You may be surprised by what you learn.

  1. Boost Memories 

Honey in a jar on a white table, surrounded by flowers, with a piece of hive sitting nearbyYou may have heard of flavonoids over the past few years since they’ve become a trendy topic in many health circles. Flavonoids, a type of polyphenol, give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors–however, they also come with health benefits for your brain. Honey contains several flavonoids, including catechin, the same ingredient in green tea that can slow memory loss. Honey’s memory-boosting properties let us keep doing and sharing the things we love as we get older.

One study that was featured in Menopause found that just 20 grams of honey a day can boost memory in postmenopausal women. Women who consumed honey regularly for four months displayed better short-term memory than those who took hormone pills.

  1. Reduce Oxidative Stress 

Our brains are constantly working. To do so, they require large amounts of oxygen. Because of this, our brains are highly susceptible to oxidative stress or damage. Fortunately, honey contains several powerful antioxidants like polyphenols and caffeic acid that combat mental distress. Consuming these potent antioxidants protects our brains from oxidative damage and can reduce the destruction or deterioration of cells by free radicals.

  1. Reduce Anxiety and Convulsions

Scientists are researching honey’s potential use for a wide range of biological functions, including its effect on our mental health. Tests using mice and rats have shown convincing evidence that honey can replicate some of the effects of barbiturates, a medication for treating epilepsy that can cause drowsiness. Subjects who ate honey found that they needed to sleep less, had lower anxiety levels, and experienced fewer convulsions, partly due to its effect on opioid receptors in the brain. Further human-focused studies in this area need to be conducted, but it is incredible to think that honey may hold the potential to treat nervous system disorders.

  1. Rich in Antioxidants

Woman in orange sweater adding honey to her mug of tea, with a pumpkin on the counter nearby.High-quality honey — which is minimally processed, unheated, and fresh — contains many important bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. Darker varieties tend to offer more antioxidants than lighter varieties. These antioxidants help neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body, which can build up in cells and cause damage. Oxidative damage has been shown to contribute to conditions like premature aging, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Honey’s potential to stop this process may lower our chances of developing these common illnesses.

  1. Improve Heart Health

According to one study, honey may help lower blood pressure, improve blood-fat levels, regulate your heartbeat, and prevent the death of healthy cells — all factors that can improve your heart function and health. Several national studies in patients over the age of 40 found that regular honey consumption was associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure among women. A promising study in rats even demonstrated that honey was able to protect the heart from oxidative stress.

Raw honey contains propolis, a type of resin that bees produce from sap-producing trees and similar plants. Research showed that propolis was one key component of honey that may improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

However, there are no long-term human studies available on honey and heart health. More research is needed to better understand honey’s beneficial effects on our hearts.

  1. Promote Burn and Wound Healing

Topical honey treatment has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt. The practice is still common today in some cultures. A review of studies on honey and wound care found it most effective at healing some burns and wounds that had become infected after surgery.

Manuka honey — a rich and darkly colored variety that is prized for its unique flavor and antibiotic properties — is considered especially effective at treating burns. Research suggests that honey’s healing powers likely come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. While honey may help heal wounds, it’s unlikely to replace traditional wound care, and patients with severe burns should seek immediate medical attention.

  1. Suppress Coughing in Children

Three jars of honey on a circular board with sliced lemons sitting nearbyCoughs are a common problem for children with upper respiratory infections. These infections can impact sleep and the quality of life for both children and parents. However, common cough medications are not always effective and can have negative side effects that parents and children may want to avoid.

Honey may be a good alternative. One review of several studies on honey and coughs in children found that honey appeared to be more effective than diphenhydramine for cough symptoms. It may also help reduce the duration of a cough. Another study noted that it may even improve sleep quality. Unlike some cough medicines, honey does not have side effects. However, never give honey to children under 1 year of age due to the risk of botulism.

Ways to Enjoy Honey

Honey can be enjoyed as is, straight from the spoon, or added to a variety of recipes. Use honey to sweeten tea and coffee or whip it into a smoothie. Whisk honey into homemade vinaigrette dressings and sauces. Drizzle it over oatmeal or overnight oats, pancakes, fresh fruit, chia seeds, or avocado pudding.

Stir honey with nut or seed butter to create nutritious energy balls and add ingredients like oats, dried fruit, spices, and chopped dark chocolate. Honey can be used to make kale chips or to glaze carrots, beets, walnuts, or cashews. You can even use honey to sweeten cocktails, like honey lime margaritas or bees’ knees, which are made from honey mixed with gin, ginger, and lemon juice. Your options are limitless.

Explore the joys of honey with one of our favorite smoothie recipes.

Honey Turmeric Smoothie (adapted from Simplegreensmoothies.com)


  • 1-inch ginger root (peeled)
  • 1 orange (peeled and zested)
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup mango (frozen)
  • ½ cup sliced carrots (frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric


  • Add ginger, orange, and almond milk to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Add remaining ingredients and blend until creamy.