Honey improves key measures of health, including blood sugar and cholesterol levels

recently nutrition review Journal study, researchers from the University of Toronto conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of previous controlled trials to better understand the effects of honey on reducing certain cardiometabolic risk factors.

study: Effect of honey on cardiometabolic risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Image credit: Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock.com

composition of honey

As a product provided by bees from the nectar of flowers, honey contains various complex sugars, organic acids, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and other biologically active compounds. Generally regarded as a healthier alternative to sugar, honey has previously been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including reduction of body weight, inflammation, lipid profile and glycemic control. in vitro, in vivo, and clinical studies.

Despite this evidence, there have not been extensive human studies on the health benefits of honey. Furthermore, the different types of honey, their sources, and whether it is raw or processed need to be clarified to determine whether these factors contribute to its potential health benefits.

about study

The researchers of the current study searched Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Studies databases for randomized and non-randomized controlled feeding trials in humans that evaluated the effects of oral consumption of honey for at least seven days or longer. Checked. These studies determined how honey consumption affected adiposity, glycemic control, lipids, blood pressure, uric acid, inflammatory markers and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease markers.

To determine the effect of honey on these various factors, the researchers used the Grading of Recommend, Evaluate, Develop and Evaluate (GRADE) approach. More specifically, the GRADE approach assesses the certainty of inferences drawn from selected trials to produce graded evidence profiles based on the degree of their certainty.

Importantly, the studies conducted by the researchers in this review included healthy patients who did not consume excessive amounts of added sugar on a daily basis.

study findings

Of the 809 studies initially identified, the researchers used 18 controlled feeding trials for their final analysis, involving a total of 1,105 participants. In these trials, the average daily dose of honey was 40 grams, with an average duration of eight weeks.

Various test comparisons included in these studies included the effect of honey on body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), fasting glucose, fasting insulin, glycated . Hemoglobin, Homeostasis Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR), Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL-C), High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL-C), Fasting Triglycerides, Apolipoprotein, High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (CRP) ) ), interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), uric acid and alanine aminotransferase (ALT).

Taken together, honey was found to improve lipid outcomes by reducing total cholesterol, LDL-C, and fasting triglyceride levels and increasing HDL-C levels. Furthermore, oral consumption of honey increased IL-6 and TNF-α levels. With respect to the other health outcomes examined in these studies, no other beneficial effects of honey were reported.

Specifically, the researchers found that the floral source and processing method of honey had an effect on its health effects. For example, robinia honey, clover honey, and raw honey were all associated with lower fasting glucose and total cholesterol levels.

The health benefits of raw honey, which has not been subjected to the harsh effects of pasteurization, can be at least partially attributed to the presence of probiotic bacteria, such as lactobacilli, in this product. In previous studies, lactobacilli have been shown to improve immune system regulation, reduce serum lipid levels, exert anti-oxidant effects, and maintain intestinal short-chain fatty acid levels.

The adage among public health and nutrition experts is that ‘sugar is a sugar…’ These results suggest that this is not the case.

study takeaways

Despite honey’s high sugar concentration, which is approximately 80%, most of which is fructose and glucose, the current study found that various other bioactive substances that this natural sweetener contains potentially provide cardiometabolic health benefits to consumers. .

In addition to the traditional sugars found in honey, rare sugars, which have been shown to alter both short- and long-term glycemic outcomes, comprise approximately 14% of the sugar content of honey. Therefore, the presence of these sugars may also contribute to the observed health benefits of honey.

The takeaway is more about substitution – if you’re using table sugar, syrup or other sweetener, swapping those sugars for honey may reduce cardiometabolic risk.

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