September is almost over, but guess what? It’s National Honey Month! Which means you still have a day and a half to indulge in the sweet stuff without the guilt. Better yet, take the time to appreciate the health benefits of honey.
Not only does honey make your tea taste better, it’s also a natural way to sweeten and enhance the flavor of foods (Michelle Obama keeps a honey beehive in the White House garden!). It also helps take the edge off a Sunday morning hangover, or so we hear, and may even combat cancer.
To comb even more super-sweet facts about honey, we spoke to Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke, contributing editors at SELF and co-founders of C&J Nutrition. They told us all about the other awesome health benefits of honey, that is benefits beyond being sweet and delicious. Here are seven things you probably didn’t know about honey that will have you singing its sticky praises.
- It may help beat hangovers
- Fructose speeds up the oxidation of alcohol in the liver. Honey is roughly equal parts glucose and fructose, so it has the potential to cause this reaction. However, studies that looked at honey’s ability to increase alcohol metabolism are using about 2 ounces of honey (8 tablespoons) per 25 grams of alcohol, which would be about 480 calories worth of honey. We wouldn’t recommend consuming that many calories worth of honey in one day.
- It contains antioxidants
Some types of honey have been found to contain antioxidants (the darker the honey the more antioxidants it typically contains), which can help fight cell damage that may increase the risk for diseases like cancer, heart disease, etc. However, in order to really pack an antioxidant punch, you’d have to consume more than a teaspoon or two of honey; the American Heart Association recommends that most women consume no more than 25 grams or (6 teaspoons) of total added sugar per day (that’s about 100 calories worth). While a teaspoon used here and there can provide a small antioxidant bonus, we’d recommend getting antioxidants from more nutritious sources, like fruits and veggies.
- It may help fight cancer
Preliminary studies on mice show that some types of honey may inhibit cancer cell growth. So far, studies have only been done in mice, so that can’t be translated with certainty to humans.
- It may help heal your cuts and burns
Some research shows that the topical application of honey on minor to moderate wounds may speed up healing.
- It may ease coughs
Small studies found that children’s coughs decreased with given honey. (And it certainly feels soothing going down when your throat is raw from hacking.)
- It’s sweeter than sugar
Per teaspoon, honey contains 20 calories, 5 grams of sugar and no fat. Granulated sugar has 15 calories, 4 grams of sugar and no fat per teaspoon. Honey is slightly sweeter, so you can use a bit less — so the calories probably are about equivalent to granulated sugar when you account for using less honey.
- It may help with weight control
We almost always recommend that people buy the plain version of foods and sweeten them themselves using a natural sweetener, so they’re able to control the amount of added sugar. But be sure to consume no more than 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) of honey per day, and that’s if it’s the ONLY added sugar you’re eating. If you’re getting sugar from other sources, make sure your total sugar intake does not top 6 teaspoons.