Is Honey good for your Heart?
Guess what? If you are a honey lover, hold onto your hat because I’ve got some sweet news for you.
The health benefits of honey—which date back to ancient civilizations and include treating burns, wounds, infections, and GI upset (to name just a few)—now include helping to keep your heart healthy too. But isn’t honey sugar and sugar bad for your heart? Then how? Read on!
Honey Helps Fight Inflammation
The first and foremost heart health benefit of raw honey is its ability to help reduce inflammation.
In addition to sugar and water, raw honey contains flavonoids, polyphenols, and other antioxidant micronutrients. These antioxidants increase your natural ability to both neutralize inflammation-causing free radicals and prevent the oxidation of unused LDL cholesterol.
The result? Less damage to the delicate endothelial lining of your arteries and less inflammation. By keeping inflammation to a minimum, you’re are preventing a plaque build-up in your arteries and helping to protect yourself against a heart attack or stroke.
The exact amount and combination of antioxidants in a jar of raw honey depend on which plants the bees gathered nectar from. Generally, though, the darker the honey, the more antioxidant power it packs. Hence, choose single-origin, minimally processed one for higher benefits.
Honey Reduces Insulin Response
Another heart-healthy benefit of raw honey is that it prevents insulin from spiking as significantly as compared to table sugar and other sweeteners.
Too much insulin in the bloodstream leads to arterial damage, inflammation, and eventually heart disease. Avoiding sugar altogether is one way to prevent these things, but honestly, it’s not a very realistic one. It’s a much better approach to keep healthier, more natural alternatives to sugar—like honey—on hand for occasions when you want to add a touch of sweetness to what you’re eating.
Honey Improves Cholesterol and Circulation
We know from research that honey can help lower triglycerides (blood lipids that are harmful when elevated) and raise HDL (“good” cholesterol)—the two most important lipids when it comes to heart health.
As a bonus, there’s also some suggestion that the micronutrients in honey have positive benefits on blood viscosity and arterial function. The more easily your blood flows, the less likely you are to have high blood pressure and blood clots.
Studies have shown that consuming honey lowers "bad" LDL cholesterol by 6–11% and lowers triglyceride levels by as much as 11%. Honey may also increase "good" HDL cholesterol by about 2%.
Honey is rich in phenolic compounds, which act as natural antioxidants and are becoming increasingly popular because of their potential role in contributing to human health. A wide range of phenolic constituents is present in honey-like quercetin, caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), acacetin, kaempferol, galangin which have promising effect in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Many epidemiological studies have shown that regular intake of phenolic compounds is associated with reduced risk of heart diseases. In coronary heart disease, the protective effects of phenolic compounds include mainly antithrombotic, anti-ischemic, anti-oxidant, and vasorelaxant. It is suggested that flavonoids decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by three major actions: improving coronary vasodilatation, decreasing the ability of platelets in the blood to clot, and preventing low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) from oxidizing.
Hence we can see that a teaspoon of honey could give your body an extra edge against heart disease, and promote heart health. Gram for gram, this "honeybee nectar" is as rich in antioxidants as some fruits and veggies. So dive into your honey jar today!