If you like taking honey, then you are likely to be one of several people asking the question “Does honey make you gain weight?”
Many people are concerned about the nutritional balance, environmental effects, and calorie content of diets; unfortunately, there is a lot of inaccurate information that can encourage people to make poor dietary choices.
One such dietary element that a lot of people seek to learn more about is honey. It is no wonder that so many people, just like yourself, are interested in knowing the various health benefits or otherwise associated with the intake of honey.
Let us, therefore, first discuss what honey is all about, its health benefits and whether honey makes you gain weight.
Honey is a sweet, viscous liquid made in the sacs of industrious bees from the nectar of flowering plants. It is dark-golden in color and stored inside the beehives (honeycombs) and has been gathered by humans for use for thousands of years (1).
There are different types of honey available, based on the source of nectar, the extraction method, and processing (either in the raw state or pasteurized).
Honey that has been harvested directly from a beehive is known as raw honey. Some honey producers filter their product through a coarse filter to remove foreign materials, but it is still raw food.
For hundreds of years, traditional medicine has utilized raw honey. This sweet, natural material may offer health-promoting properties that processed honey lacks. Honey has several health advantages.
Raw honey, which comes straight from beehives, contains bee pollen, propolis, and antioxidants.
Although research has not proven that raw honey offers more health advantages than ordinary honey, some believe regular honey processing removes many beneficial ingredients. Others believe raw honey has more health advantages than processed honey.
Raw honey contains bee pollen and bee propolis, a sticky substance produced by bees to keep the hives glued together. These substances have potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antibacterial properties (2).
Regular honey is produced by processes such as filtration or pasteurization. Pasteurization involves applying heat to make it less sticky and easier to sift.
Honey is pasteurized at high temperatures, destroying yeast that could cause undesirable fermentation and affect its taste.
Pasteurization also extends the shelf life of honey and makes it transparent and more appealing but may reduce the number of nutrients.
Filtration removes impurities such as beeswax, bee pollen, and other debris to form a more transparent liquid that is also aesthetically pleasing to consumers (3).
Honey has a lot of health benefits. We will delve into evidence-based health benefits in the following sections.
The antimicrobial activity is mainly due to an enzyme glucose oxidase, some of its physical aspects, and other factors such as low pH (acidic environment) and viscosity limiting dissolved oxygen and other chemical agents.
Honey does not help the growth of yeast and bacteria due to low pH, glucose oxidase, and hydrogen peroxide (4).
Among the many types of honey, manuka honey, a form of raw honey, can prevent the growth of
- the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli), responsible for food poisoning and wound infections
- the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, causing skin infections.
- Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that causes peptic ulcers and gastritis (4, 5).
Antioxidants stop disease-causing free radicals before they cause damage to cells and tissues. The antioxidant activity of honey is linked to its brightness; the darker the honey, the higher levels of antioxidants (4).
Honey contains antioxidants such as phenolic acids and flavonoids. These compounds are important in health and disease prevention.
Some researchers have suggested that the potential activity of these antioxidants protects the body against chronic conditions such as asthma, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart, eye, brain, and kidney diseases (6, 7).
Honey contains many nutrients that make it healthy food to consume. Raw honey’s exact nutritional and chemical makeup varies by country and habitat and is largely determined by the kind of flowers from which bees collect nectar.
Honey still contains beneficial elements such as antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamins (8).
Raw honey contains 64 calories and 16 grams of sugar per tablespoon (21 g). The figures may differ depending on the brand and batch (USDA Food Composition Database).
Honey contains a variety of nutrients. Small amounts of the following vitamins and minerals are available from a reliable source: Niacin (vitamin B3), riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, zinc (9).
Honey has been shown in numerous trials to be an effective wound healing dressing. The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities make it effective in wound healing, according to a review (10).
Honey potentially has antiviral and antifungal properties, as some evidence suggests (11). Honey is also acidic, which aids in oxygen release from the wound and promotes healing.
Apply raw honey straight to small cuts and burns, then cover the wound with gauze or a bandage.
Incorporating high-quality honey into your diet instead of conventional sugar may enhance several aspects of heart health, as it has been shown to lower multiple risk factors for heart disease.
For example, a 30-day trial was conducted in 55 obese or overweight patients with honey and sucrose (in control and experimental groups).
The results showed that honey reduced total cholesterol and LDL-C (bad cholesterol) and increased HDL-C (good cholesterol) thereby reducing cardiovascular risk factors, particularly in subjects with elevated risk factors (12).
Honey is as effective as or more effective than some over-the-counter (OTC) cough treatments. Honey may be a viable choice for children over one year of age, as many cough medicines are not safe for younger children.
According to a meta-analysis, the use of honey potentially decreases the severity and frequency of coughing, and probably allows children to have a better sleep at night (13).
To cure a cough, take a spoonful of raw honey and wait a few minutes before drinking or eating anything else to allow the honey to coat your throat.
Honey can obviously make you gain weight if taken in excess or uncontrolled on a regular basis. This indicates that honey, in moderation, will not make you fat, therefore finding a balance in our diet is critical.
It’s a high-calorie food whose effect is mostly determined by the frequency and quantity with which it’s ingested.
However, honey has a lot of calories and sugar (approximately 64 calories/tablespoon), which might lead to weight gain over time, especially if other lifestyle modifications are not made to offset these extra calories.
The sugar in honey is rapidly digested and can cause blood sugar levels to surge and drop sharply, leading to increased hunger and the possibility of long-term weight gain (14,).
Furthermore, studies show that consuming more added sugar is linked to an increased risk of weight gain and obesity (15).
Honey may make you gain weight. This is because honey is high in calories and sugar. While this may not be a significant amount, even a few servings each day can quickly add up.
This could contribute to weight gain in the long run, especially if no other dietary changes are made to account for the extra calories.
Honey also contains a lot of sugar, which is quickly absorbed and can cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall, causing greater hunger and the likelihood of long-term weight gain.