Honey Nutritional Value

What is honey

Honey represents a ring, similar to the honeycomb’s one, that connects the past, present, and future towards hopeful solutions for simple curable infections up to complicated incurable cancer. Honey is a result of the respiratory/digestive secretions of the bees that consume different flower nectars.16

Nutritional Value of honey

Honey has multiple nutritional values, according to its  different  sources of nectars. It approximately contains the majority of  easily digestible and useful carbohydrate types,  simple singular or slightly multiple molecular  structure without the less digestible complicated sugars. 

For example, it contains simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose (table sugar).3 Moreover, it has readily made sugar acids that are needed to give energy to the body. It is worth noting that the body gets those acids after losing a part of its energy in turn.4

Furthermore, It contains most of the needed amino acids by the body, even those that are not sufficiently manufactured. Therefore, it gives a definitive solution to the body's  building of proteins. For instance, collagen connects the tissues together, which is essential for wound healing and a well nourished and healthy skin.5 Additionally, honey contains enzyme proteins that help the body to use its energy content by burning more sugars.6 This is promising for healthier nutrition without excess calories.

Honey is full of minerals, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, zirconium, cadmium, and arsenic.7 It is worth noting that the majority of these minerals may enhance many important reactions in the body in addition to their nutritional value in building the composition of blood, bones and flesh.

Health benefits of honey

Honey occupies a wide range of health applications, according to the nutritional value mentioned above. For example, the phenol hydrocarbons and the benzene components of benzene in honey are useful for attacking  any damaging agents. Based on this, the darker the honey is, the more beneficial it is. Some of these agents cause damage to the tissue by using remnants of oxygen, called oxygen free radicals.8 This is the same that occurs with cancer, so honey has an antioxidant activity that can be a target for cancer-fighting .

The honey supports the body against the growth of bacteria and fungi by eradicating oxygen radicals, a source for bacterial growth.9 In addition, the high concentration of acid and sodium  as well as the low concentration of glucose and water in honey have made it a poor medium for bacteria to grow.10 In addition to  increasing immune cells to prevent  the infection of the tissues, complicating diabetes mellitus.15 For example, Manuka honey  is known for its defensive effect against staphylococcal bacteria and Escherichia coli by the latter mechanism.

The benzene-like components of the honey may encourage the early ageing  and end-up of the cancer cells by encouraging its destructive enzyme production.11 Evidence of this mechanism has been linked to Tualang honey. Additionally, some types of honey would affect genes that code for these destructive enzymes,12 such an effect was witnessed in colon cancer after the intake of Manuka honey.13

The antioxidant activity of honey is assumed to help in lowering the blood glucose level in diabetic patients through its benzene-like properties and enhancing the oxidation of the glucose.14 This later mechanism applies to a protective mechanism against nervous tissue inflammation, including Alzheimer's disease.16

Finally, these anti-inflammatory , anti-bacterial , immune-strengthening , and nutritional bodybuilding effects, especially for the protein (collagen)  building, have potentiated the use of honey in  both surgical and diabetic wound healing.15


How much honey is recommended a day

Honey would not be used as a therapy, despite its nutritional value. However, it is beneficial for our health within a limited amount each day. Consequently, an answer for the amount of honey required daily is needed. Unfortunately, there has not been till now any sharp evidence base about the range of the honey dose. This might be due to either the difference in the types of nectar sources of honey or according to the purpose. For example, 20 ml of pure, on administration before and after treatment, honey showed significantly less inflammatory complications of radiotherapy cancer patients.16  50 - 100 gm of honey per day showed less risk liability to fat-induced disease of heart and blood vessels.17 Apart from the past beliefs that diabetic patients should not receive honey to keep their sugar levels  stable, several studies, on laboratory animals,  suggested that a dose of 1.5 to 2.5 grams of honey for every kilogram of body weight would be sufficient to control glucose levels  in diabetes mellitus. This should be taken cautiously according to the percentage and type of sugar component in the used honey.18

Which is better, honey or sugar

The honey has approximately 97% composition of simple sugar that is unimolecular or a few molecules  together.19 Additionally, it has a higher amount of fructose than glucose. This makes it better than table sugar which is pure glucose or starch, and even better than fruit sugars since it contains a mixture of different sugar types. However, this depends on the type, sugar composition, and honey's purity..

How is honey made

Honey is an end-product of the dehydration of the respiratory and digestive secretions of the bee inside the combs within the hives  away from moisture.16 The honey is taken out of the comb by compression, draining, or extraction. The extraction method by centrifugation supplies us with the majority of the global production of honey.20

How many different types of honey are there

There are different types of honey according to the nectar flower.  In  Europe, only 15 among 100 botanical honey nectars of single flower origin are physically /chemically characterized for their general importance.21 However, they originate from two main sources: Blossom and honeydew. 

Among the nectars of single flower origin is the manuka honey which has been mentioned above for its high antibacterial effect. Its tree is manuka pollinate, which grows in Australia and New Zealand in winter. Tualang honey is another famous honey that is extracted from hung nests of bees among the trees in Asia.22

Although it has multi-flower sources, it has shown effects  against Alzheimer`s disease and colon cancer as mentioned before.23 The royal jelly is considered a nutritional supplement with its positive effect on mental health, sugar level regulation and blood components.23

Bucky wheat honey is produced from buckwheat flowers in North America. It has shown improvements in different bowel symptoms with antibacterial effects.27 In addition, Maple syrup mimics honey in its sweetening and antioxidant effect. It is made from the sap of the trees in the cold forests of Canada.28

What are the side effects of honey

Honey is made of the respiratory secretions of bees, so any damage to the flower nectar sources by insecticides or pollution may end in saturated honey with heavy toxic metals.24  It is worth noting that abnormal alterations of honey (heating, long storage, and increased acidity of honey) can form a toxic component called HMT ( hydroxymethylfurfural) which is a cancer-linked  agent.25 

Honey may harbour  the spores of botulinum toxin, causing nervous and muscular botulism ( flaccid paralysis) in infants, before 12 months, fed on honey products. In addition, honey may contain antigens like pollen grains which exacerbate allergies.26


Honey is a golden double-edged weapon, of which the advantages are to be considered rather than the harms.  Getting the advantages of honey is dependent on several factors such as the conditions of consumption, types of honey, and the preceding medical advice on its usage. Honey is like money, so keep an eye on how you use it.


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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Mohamed Abulfadl

Master of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology- Faculty of Medicine, Aswan University, Egypt

Mohamed is a medical doctor with neurology and nephrology research interest. He has an experience
of working for three years as a dual specialist of diagnostic Medicine (both diagnostic imaging and
Laboratory medicine).
Additionally, he has an interest in supporting university students, either as a teaching assistant, mentor
or even invigilator since 2016.
He is currently on a PHD study on translational neuroscience in Bristol medical school in UK.

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