The Nutritional Value of Honey
Why is Raw Honey So Good For You?
The nutritional value of honey changes from variety to variety, hive to hive, and even batch to batch, according to the flowers and plants from which bees gather nectar, the breed of bees that collects it, weather and soil conditions, and beekeeper practices.
And while not all honey is created equal, all raw honey does contain a complex and impressive list of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and polyphenols, in varying percentages, all interacting to render raw honey a substance that fights disease and illness and contributes to overall health and wellness.
Contrary to popular belief, raw honey is not just a tasty sweetener but a complex and nutritious whole food.
Nutritional Value of Honey Breakdown
Honey nutrition and raw honey health benefits are derived from the following interacting elements:
- Water (14% - 20%) + Carbohydrates (75%) in the form of fructose, glucose, sucrose, and dextrin.
Raw honey’s natural high-sugar concentration, low-water content, and low pH make it impossible for bacteria to grow.
That’s why raw honey never goes bad.
In fact, it's one of very few foods that doesn’t expire.
And that’s also why honey is a natural antibiotic and infection fighter.
The composition of honey enables it to not only kill bacteria but to prevent the bacteria from developing resistance to it, unlike conventional antibiotics.
- Enzymes (trace amounts)
There are only trace amounts of enzymes in raw honey that come from bee saliva and the nectar that bees gather.
While enzymes are not significant contributors to the nutritional value of honey all by themselves, they are extremely important, responsible for actually transforming nectar into honey and rendering it more than just a simple sugar.
Some bee activity and nectar combinations result in high enzymatic activity, while others have comparatively little. This is where the varying characteristics of the bees and plants and flowers they’re collecting from come into play in terms of shaping the taste, texture, aroma, and color of raw honey.
Glucose oxidase is the enzyme that is responsible for triggering the hydrogen-peroxide activity or HPA* in all raw honey, which is what leads to the many medicinal properties of honey.
Polyphenols (varying amounts)
Honey contains varying concentrations of polyphenols, specifically flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants** that could reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Polyphenols are also found in fruits, vegetables, tea, and olive oil.
- Minerals (1% - 2%)
Potassium is the most prevalent, but honey also contains trace elements of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc.
- Amino Acids (1% - 2%)
The very small trace of amino acids found in honey is not nutritionally significant all by itself. Proline is the most abundant of the 26 in total. It promotes proper function of joints and tendons, helps maintain and strengthen the heart muscle, and can be used as an energy source.
- Organic Acids (.5 – 1.1%)
Organic acids contribute to the flavor profile of honey.
- Vitamins (trace amounts)
B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and folic acid), Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.
Heating raw honey past the maximum hive temperature of
95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius alters its properties and diminishes
its overall uniqueness and quality.
*Manuka honey is the only variety as of yet discovered that demonstrates non-peroxide activity (NPA) in addition to HPA. This simply means that the manuka honey antioxidant and medicinal qualities remain potent even when HPA is removed. Manuka honey is also not as sensitive to extreme temperature changes as other varieties of raw honey. Further testing has shown that manuka honey kills even the strongest strains of bacteria, and, unlike prescription medicine, manuka honey is immune to bacterial resistance.
**The antioxidant substances in raw honey, including catalase, glucose oxidase, proteins, flavonoids, carotenoid derivatives, and various acids (ascorbic, organic, and amino), protect cells from aging and health problems caused by free radicals. The antioxidant properties and nutritional value of honey vary with its composition (percentages of sugar, mineral, and water) and the floral sources of its nectar.
Raw Honey's Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index (GI) of raw honey ranges from 35 to 58, depending on how much fructose it contains. In comparison, sugar has a GI of 58. Carbohydrates with a 55 or lower GI are slowly digested, absorbed, and metabolized, which keeps blood-sugar stable. Anything over 70 leads to a spike in blood-sugar levels.
Calories in Honey
On average, there are 64 health-boosting calories in a tablespoon of honey. Visit the How Many Calories in Honey article for the side-by-side comparison of sugar vs honey.
HoneyShifts is a brand-new website. While we’re passionate about the world of honey, we are still learning! The websites referenced for information about the nutritional value of honey include:
- HoneyShifts Home >
- Nutritional Value of Honey