Not all sweets are the same. The proof is that honey, if consumed with some precautions, can help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, can counteract fatty liver and support the immune system. This emerges from a very recent review appearing in Nutrition Reviews by a Canadian team from the University of Toronto (Ahmed et al, Nutrition Reviews, Nov 2022).
Honey and sugars
A diet high in sugars increases the probability of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Instead, despite being rich in sugars, up to 80%, honey has always been considered a healthy food. This is because, together with sugars, honey also brings other substances, such as enzymes, proteins, vitamins and antioxidants. But what exactly are the benefits of consuming honey? The Canadian study reviewed 18 previous research involving a total of 1100 people in order to understand the effects of honey on health. In addition, thanks to this analysis, the scientists were also able to indicate the honeys that were found to be healthier.
The properties of honey for health, the study
Research has highlighted the benefits of honey on health. In particular, two tablespoons of honey, about 40 grams, taken every day for at least two months led to an improvement in all the factors that determine cardiovascular risk. In fact, fasting blood sugar, total and bad cholesterol and triglycerides decreased. Not only that, the consumption of honey made it possible to increase the good HDL cholesterol at the same time. But the healthy properties of honey don't stop at the heart, the liver can also benefit from them. In fact, the researchers noted an improvement in fatty liver markers, such as a reduction in ALT and AST transaminases and in the lipid content within liver cells. In addition to this, scientists have also found an increase in some indicators of the functioning of the immune system, showing that honey supports our defenses and makes them more active. The best results were obtained with acacia and clover honeys and in general with raw honeys.
Honey can therefore be included in a varied and balanced diet and can bring important benefits to our health. However, it should be emphasized, as the authors of the study themselves say, that the research does not want to say that, even if you are not in the habit of taking sugar, it is important to change and start consuming honey. More than anything else, the indication goes in the direction of replacement. If you are using sugar, syrups or other sweeteners it may be a good choice to replace them with honey. Then, in order not to alter the properties of honey, it is better to avoid exposing it to excessive heat. For example, when drinking herbal tea, you can try waiting a few minutes before adding the honey.