Honey Facts
Answers to Your Questions About Honey

Honey Facts are very short answers to the questions you're asking about honey. For a more in-depth look, follow the links to the comprehensive articles for each topic.

There is no order of the questions and answers on this page. They are simply the answers to frequently asked questions that we found as we were researching honey for our articles. Some of the questions will be repetitive, asking the same or similar things, but just reworded in a different way. That’s okay. The purpose of this page was to specifically answer your questions exactly as you’re asking them.

So search what you're looking for and answer what you know to be true!

Is honey healthy?
Honey is very healthy for the majority of us. Raw honey boasts a wide variety of medicinal and healing properties as well as antioxidants that slow the aging process, prevent illness and disease, and promote overall health. Read all About Honey Benefits here. Pregnant women, children under one year old, and anyone with bee or bee-pollen allergies should not eat raw honey. See Raw Honey Dangers.   

What is raw honey?
Raw honey is the state of honey when it’s collected from the hive, before it undergoes filtering and/or processing, which diminishes the nutritional value of honey and its healthy properties.

How long does raw honey last?
Raw honey literally lasts forever. The complex nutritional value and properties of raw honey make it one of the few natural foods that never spoils... and the only one that still tastes good no matter how old it is.

How do bees make honey?
Bees travel from flower to flower and gather nectar, which they then chew and regurgitate into the individual cells of the honeycomb. Enzymes from the bee saliva and the nectar interact to transform nectar into the more complex structure of honey, which is considered a whole food. This honey nutrition article provides a detailed breakdown of exactly what honey consists of.

Why do bees make honey?
Although we're often the ones that reap raw honey health benefits, the bees obviously don't do all that hard work for us. Bees feed off of honey over the winter when their flower and plant sources aren't available. Beekeepers will replace the honey they harvest with carbohydrate and protein feed so that their bees stay healthy. 

What is the difference between raw and processed honey?
Raw honey is basically fresh from the hive: uncooked, unfiltered, and unpasteurized, with no additives. As you might assume, raw honey looks a little rough. It's not pretty like most of what you'll find in stores. Processed honey has usually been filtered and heat-treated to make it look more appealing, but processing honey also alters its taste and diminishes the nutritional value of honey. When we talk (or write) about honey being good for you, we’re referring to the properties of raw honey

What is pure honey?
Pure honey means that no other ingredients, natural or otherwise, were added to the honey. It does not necessarily mean that the honey was not filtered or processed, which neutralizes the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of honey. Pure honey is not the same as raw honey.

What is natural honey?
Natural honey contains only natural ingredients, but it does not mean that other natural ingredients were not added to the honey. Natural honey could be filtered and/or processed. Natural honey is not the same as raw honey.

At what temperature does raw honey lose its benefits?
The nutritional value of honey from the hive starts to diminish at 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius. The ideal temperature for storing raw honey is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, between 10 and 21 degrees Celsius.

What temperature kills the enzymes in honey?
The ideal temperature for healthy honey to maintain all of its nutrients and enzymes is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 and 21 degrees Celsius. 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius is the temperature at which the honey nutrition starts to deteriorate.

Is honey better than sugar?
Nutritionally speaking, raw honey is much better than sugar, although honey has more calories. Processed honey, however, offers little nutritional value. As far as taste and texture, it comes down to preference. Keep in mind that the nutritional value of honey as well as flavor and fragrance starts to diminish at 95 degrees Fahrenheit/35 degrees Celsius, the maximum temperature of a beehive, so cooking with honey is not recommended if you want to maintain the natural medicinal properties of raw honey. Click sugar vs honey for the side-by-side comparison.

Which honey has the most health benefits?
Raw (unfiltered/unprocessed, unenhanced) honey has the most benefits for overall health and wellness as well as illness and disease prevention. All raw honey is beneficial to our health, but certain varieties, such as manuka honey, have extra-potent infection-fighting and antioxidant properties.
The benefits of raw honey vary from batch to batch depending on a host of factors, including the flowers from which the bees gather nectar, weather and climate, soil conditions, bee characteristics, and beekeeper practices. 

What is raw honey good for?
Raw honey is good for treating a scratchy, sore, throat; easing congestion and sinus infections; improving gastro-intestinal function, soothing rashes or skin irritation; moisturizing dry skin and hair; healing cuts or wounds; boosting melatonin levels for restful sleep, as well as contributing to overall health and wellness through antioxidants. Read all About Honey Benefits and The Many Uses of Honey.

Can raw honey kill you?
Raw honey could contain a botulism-causing bacteria which is harmful and potentially deadly for children under 1 year of age as well as pregnant women. See Raw Honey Dangers.

What’s filtered honey?
Raw honey is often filtered to make it look better. Filtering removes solids, such as beeswax, bee parts, and pollen, so that it won’t crystalize. According to FSN, Food Safety News and local beekeepers we've spoken to, commercial high-tech filtering involves heating the honey, sometimes diluting it with water, and then forcefully straining it to remove pollen. Traditional beekeeping techniques, however, only manually filter out bee parts, wax, and other debris but leave in the pollen. Pollen contributes to the nutritional value of honey and is the only surefire way to identify from where the honey originated.

What are the benefits of honey in the body?
Honey’s benefits in the body are wide-ranging. The antibacterial, antiseptic, antihistamine, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of raw honey have been exploited for centuries in a vast array of applications. It can act as a remedy for cold symptoms and allergies, a treatment for certain illnesses, a pre-bedtime sleep aid, and, applied topically, as a reliever of skin irritation and inflammation. Studies have shown that consuming honey on a regular basis can help improve cognitive function, mood, and hormone regulation as well as promote a healthy heart, lungs, and liver. Read the comprehensive list of the amazing benefits of honey here.

Is a spoonful of honey good for you?
Yes! If it’s raw honey, a spoonful of honey is very good for you...

UNLESS you are you are pregnant, younger than 12 months, or allergic to bees or bee pollen, in which case you should avoid eating honey.

But otherwise, the consumption of honey is good for treating bacterial and viral infections, healing skin disorders, and contributing to your antioxidant intake, the benefits of which are multiple and wide-ranging. A spoonful of honey can also moisturize dry skin, hair, nails, and lips. Read more about the amazing health benefits of honey and beauty benefits of honey.

Is filtered or unfiltered honey better?
As with anything, it depends who you ask. The primary purpose of filtering honey is to make it look better, and most consumers who don't fully realize the advantages of natural raw honey prefer the look of filtered honey that doesn’t crystalize because the pollen is removed. However, removing the pollen also decreases honey’s nutritional value and renders it non-sourceable. If you’re on the anti-crystalization side of the fence, remember that you can always slightly heat your honey to turn it back into the more appealing liquid state. 

Can you eat unfiltered, raw honey?
Not only can you eat unfiltered, raw honey, but, in most cases, it's better for you than the filtered honey. Honey is filtered to remove the bee particles, wax, and pollen which can make it unsightly. If commercially filtered, honey would lose most, if not all, of its pollen. Traditionally filtered honey, which is practiced by non-commercial honey producers, leaves the pollen intact.

How many calories in honey?
One tablespoon of honey has 64 calories. Click sugar vs honey for a detailed comparison of the two sweeteners. 

Is pasteurized honey OK for babies?
No. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, Honey is not recommended for anyone under the age of 1, pasteurized or not. Honey is also not recommended for pregnant women. Read about the risks of honey here.

Is raw honey safe?
Raw honey is not only safe but very beneficial to our health for most of us. However, in very rare cases, it may contain bacteria Clostridium botulinum which could lead to botulism, a harmful and potentially life-threatening illness, especially for babies. The recommended age for consumption of honey is 12 months or older according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization. Read about who should avoid honey here.

How common is infant botulism from honey?
Infant botulism in general is very rare. The CDC reported a total of 205 confirmed botulism cases in the United States in 2016, of which 73% were infant botulism. The study did not specify the foodborne cause of these cases.

Is honey powder healthy?
Honey powder, otherwise known as dehydrated honey or dry honey, is not as healthy as unheated raw honey, but honey powder is healthier than raw honey for baking since cooking raw honey over 95 degrees Fahrenheit destroys much of the nutritional value of honey and healing properties of raw honey. If you can find a way to incorporate raw, uncooked, unprocessed honey into your meals and drinks, you'll get the most healthy benefits of honey, of which there are many.

When can babies eat unpasteurized honey?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization. Babies can eat honey, pasteurized or not, at 12 months of age. Read more about babies and honey here.

Is honey powder safe for babies?
Babies younger than 12 months should not consume any form of honey, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. See Is Raw Honey Safe?

Is honey OK for babies if cooked?
No. Babies under the age of one year should not eat honey. Read the warning about honey.

Can you eat raw honey?
Yes. For the vast majority of us, eating raw honey promotes overall health and fights infection, illness, and disease. Raw honey may contain bee and pollen pieces, and honey allergies are possible for that reason. See Is Raw Honey Safe to determine when you should avoid eating honey.

What temperature can you heat honey to?
If you're after raw honey’s nutrients, which you should be, it’s best to consume it unheated or warmed slightly (95 degrees Fahrenheit is when it starts to lose it's nutritional value). The ideal temperature of honey is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 and 21 degrees Celsius. Remember that only raw honey will suffer from heating. Commercially processed honey has already undergone the high temperatures, so most of its nutrients have already been destroyed. Read the Cooking with Honey article for ideas about how to keep honey healthy in the kitchen.

Is it bad to heat up honey?
Warming raw honey up is not bad. Heating it past 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius will neutralize many of the properties of raw honey that make it so beneficial to our health. Remember that only raw honey will suffer from heating. Commercially processed honey has already undergone the high temperatures to most of the nutrients have already been destroyed. Cooking with Honey offers suggestions on the tastiest and healthiest ways to serve honey.

At what temperature does honey become toxic?
Honey doesn’t become toxic. That’s one of those Internet rumors. But heating honey over 95 degrees Fahrenheit destroys its many healthy nutrients and enzymes. See the Nutritional Value of Honey and Properties of Raw Honey for details about what makes honey so good for us. Then, read about how to keep your honey healthy by NOT cooking with honey while including it in your dishes and drinks. 

Is honey healthier than sugar?
Raw honey is much healthier than sugar, It contains vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that transform it into a whole food, so it is not just a regular sweetener like sugar. See Is Honey Better Than Sugar?

What are the health benefits of honey?
Raw honey boasts many benefits. It has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, meaning it can treat and heal infections and wounds, slow down the aging process, contribute to heart health and brain function, and help you sleep better, just to name a few of the natural benefits of honey. Although raw honey has been used as a treatment and remedy for thousands of years, we are still learning about how it positively impacts our health. See how to reap honey's health benefits in The Many Uses of Honey article.

What is active manuka honey?
Active manuka honey is a marketing term used to define the medicinal or medical-grade quality of manuka honey.

What level of manuka honey is best?
It depends on what you’re using it for. In terms of UMF manuka honey ratings, which refer more to the medicinal or medical-grade quality of manuka honey, between 10+ and 20+ is what experts recommend.

Is honey sugar?
Honey is mostly (roughly 75%) made up of sugars: fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose. Although both sugar and honey are sweet, honey, unlike sugar, is considered a whole food with a wide spectrum of beneficial properties attached to it. See the Nutritional Value of Honey for the complete breakdown of honey's make-up. See the How Many Calories in Honey article for the side-by-side comparison of sugar vs honey.

What is honey and lemon good for?
The honey-lemon duo is a healthy and popular sweet-sour taste that goes well in tea, drinks, and desserts. Both honey and lemon have vitamins and antioxidant properties as well as weight loss claims attached to them. Remember that heating honey over 95 degrees will destroy its healthy nutrients and beneficial properties. See The Many Uses of Honey article for more ideas about pairing and combining raw honey with other foods and ingredients to the take full advantage of its many health-promoting benefits.

What is the glycemic index of raw honey?
The glycemic index of raw honey varies from 35 to 58 depending on fructose level of the honey in question. See the calories in honey article for the side-by-side sugar vs honey comparison.

Is honey safe for diabetics?
Honey is mostly made up of natural sugar, so eating it will raise your blood-sugar level. However, unlike sugar, eating honey provides a whole host of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits that boost our health. Honey is also lower than sugar on the glycemic index and glycemic load scale. Read sugar vs honey for more details.

Does honey raise your glycemic index?
Raw honey is made up mostly of sugar, about 75%, depending on the honey variety and other factors, so that's something to be mindful of if you're diabetic. But the complex make-up and nutritional value of honey contribute to its being lower on the glycemic index and glycemic-load scale. Eating raw honey provides more constant, sustained energy, a boost of antioxidants in our bloodstream, and can potentially lower cholesterol levels, just some of the raw honey health benefits.

Is raw honey low glycemic?
The nutritional value of honey varies, depending on the flowers it's made from and other factors, so the glycemic index of raw honey is between 45 and 64, lower than sugar. The glycemic load of honey is also much lower than sugar. See Is Honey Better Than Sugar for the sugar vs honey comparison.

How much honey and lemon should I drink for weight loss?
Many honey and weight loss diets suggest drinking a full glass of water with one tablespoon of raw honey and the juice from half a lemon in the morning for breakfast. That's all you need to get you through the morning. Raw honey, a whole food in and of itself, is made up of healthy calories that keep you feeling full while providing your body with sustained energy and antioxidants, and lemon is detoxifying and rich in vitamin-C. While super-good for you, raw honey is highly caloric, so limit your daily intake to three tablespoons and drink honey-lemon by itself as a small meal or snack. 

Is honey good for losing weight?
Yes, in moderation. Raw honey is actually a healthy, whole food, not just a simple sweetener, and one tablespoon provides enough calories to make you feel full and give you long-lasting, healthy energy. The key is to treat a tablespoon of raw honey as a small meal or snack when trying to lose weight.

Related articles:
Honey and Weight Loss
Nutritional Value of Honey
Raw Honey Health Benefits

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