Honey may help protect your heart and metabolic health

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Honey is a complex composition of common and rare sugars, proteins, organic acids, and other bioactive compounds that very likely have health benefits.

In a study from the University of Toronto, scientists found that honey improves key measures of cardiometabolic health, including blood sugar and cholesterol levels—especially if the honey is raw and from a single floral source.

They conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials on honey.

The team found that it lowered fasting blood glucose, total and LDL or “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides, and a marker of fatty liver disease; it also increased HDL or “good” cholesterol, and some markers of inflammation.

Previous research has shown that honey can improve cardiometabolic health, especially in vitro and animal studies.

The current study is the most comprehensive review to date of clinical trials, and it includes the most detailed data on processing and floral source.

The researchers included 18 controlled trials and over 1,100 participants in their analysis.

Clinical trials in which participants followed healthy dietary patterns, with added sugars accounting for 10 percent or less of daily caloric intake.

The median daily dose of honey in the trials was 40 grams or about two tablespoons. The median length of the trial was eight weeks.

Raw honey drove many of the beneficial effects in the studies, as did honey from monofloral sources such as Robinia (also marketed as acacia honey)—honey from False Acacia or Black Locust Trees—and clover, which is common in North America.

The team says the takeaway is more about a replacement—if you’re using table sugar, syrup or another sweetener, switching those sugars for honey might lower cardiometabolic risks.

The team says that while processed honey clearly loses many of its health effects after pasteurization—typically 65 degrees Celsius for at least 10 minutes—the effect of a hot drink on raw honey depends on several factors, and likely would not destroy all its beneficial properties.

They also note other ways to consume unheated honey, such as with yogurt, as a spread, and in salad dressings.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that not all whole grain foods could benefit people with diabetes, and green tea and coffee could help reduce death risk in diabetes.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes.

The study was conducted by Tauseef Khan et al and published in Nutrition Reviews.

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