Is honey healthy?

Honey contains specific nutrients that can make it a healthy addition to the diet. / Net photo

Honey is known for its sweet taste, but it serves many purposes, medicinal even. It is used as a substitute for sugar, others use it to treat cough or the common cold, among other things. 

According to Dieudonne Bukaba, a nutritionist at Avega Clinic Remera, honey contains a number of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds like flavonoids.

 

The World Health Organization regards honey as a treasured demulcent for the treatment of cough. It is a viscous liquid with a complex chemical composition of carbohydrates, free amino acids, vitamins, trace elements, and flavonoids. It also contains compounds that function as antioxidants.

 

Some studies show that honey improves heart disease risk factors in people with diabetes. Nevertheless, it also raises blood sugar levels, therefore, it cannot be considered healthy for people with diabetes.

 

Another study shows that honey reduces cough symptoms and enhances sleep more than cough medication, and can act as a natural and safe cough suppressant. 

Bukaba explains that consuming honey may lead to modest reductions in blood pressure, which is an important risk factor for heart disease, but also, honey has a helpful effect on cholesterol levels. It leads to modest reductions in total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while escalating “good” HDL cholesterol.

According to research-based evaluations on honey, it has been shown to decrease the harshness and the duration of diarrhoea. Honey also stimulates increased potassium and water intake, which is predominantly helpful when suffering from diarrhoea.

Bukaba notes that honey can also be a remedy to stress, weakness, sleep disturbance, vision problems, bad breath, teeth pain, in children over a year old, cough and asthma, hiccups, stomach ulcers, dysentery, vomiting, bedwetting, and frequent urination.

He adds that honey can also be medicine for high blood pressure, obesity, hangover relief, eczema, and dermatitis, burns, cuts, and wounds and arthritis.

“Honey has helped to reduce the risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can cause inflammation, acid reflux, and heartburn,” the health expert says.

According to Healthline, honey is confirmed to be effective as a treatment for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, though, a common cause of stomach ulcers. It’s also a potent prebiotic, meaning it nurtures the good bacteria that lives in the intestines, which is crucial not only for digestion but overall health.

However, in addition to beneficial prebiotics and nutrients, raw honey can also carry harmful bacteria such as clostridium botulinum. This is particularly dangerous for babies. Raw honey should never be given to an infant less than a year old. Symptoms of botulism poisoning in infants may include: constipation, slow breathing, sagging eyelids, loss of head control, paralysis that spreads downward, poor feeding, and weak cry, states Healthline.

Researchers explain that honey contains specific nutrients that can make it a healthy addition to the diet. Natural honey contains amounts of vitamins and minerals, like niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous and zinc.

Diabetic people or those on sugar-restricted diets are advised by health experts to take honey in moderation to avoid significant changes in their blood sugar levels. Pure honey has a glycaemic index (GI) of 58, which is why it has a medium effect on blood sugar levels. 

Numerous studies have recommended that honey works well as a wound healing dressing. Honey is useful in wound healing because of its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Some evidence also proposes that honey has antiviral and antifungal properties. Additionally, honey is acidic, which helps release oxygen from the wound, hence, encouraging healing.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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