December 9, 2022

Research suggests honey reduces cardiometabolic risks

Future studies should focus on unprocessed honey – and from a solitary floral source

Researchers in the University of Toronto have found that honey improves key measures of cardiometabolic health, including blood sugar and bad cholesterol levels – especially if the particular honey is raw and from a single floral resource.

The researchers conducted a organized review and meta-analysis of clinical trials on honey  and found that it lowered fasting blood glucose, total and LDL, or “ poor, ”   cholesterol, triglycerides  and a marker of greasy liver disease. It also increased HDL or “ great, ” cholesterol  and some guns of inflammation.

“ These results are unexpected, because honey is about 80 per cent sugar, ” said  Tauseef Khan , a senior researcher around the study and a research associate in  nutritional sciences  at U of T’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine. “ But honey is also the complex composition of common and rare sugars, aminoacids, organic acids and other bioactive compounds that very likely have health benefits. ”

Previous research has shown that honey can improve cardiometabolic health, especially in in vitro and animal studies. The current study is the most comprehensive evaluation to date of clinical tests, and it includes the most detailed data on processing and floral source.

The journal  Nourishment Reviews   published the  findings  this week .

“ The word among public health insurance and nutrition experts has long been that will “ a sugar is really a sugar, ”   said  principal investigator  Bob Sievenpiper , a clinician-scientist at  Unity Health Toronto and a U of T  associate professor of dietary sciences and  medicine. “ These results show that isn’t the case, and they should give pause to the designation of honey as a free or even added sugar in nutritional guidelines. ”

Sievenpiper and Khan emphasized that the context of the results was critical: clinical studies in which participants followed healthful dietary patterns, with added sugars accounting for 10 per cent or less associated with daily caloric intake.

“ We’re not saying you should start having sweetie if you currently avoid sugars, ” said Khan. “ The takeaway is more about replacement – if you’re using table sugar, syrup or another sweetener, switching those sugar for honey might cheaper cardiometabolic risks. ”

The researchers incorporated 18 controlled trials plus over 1, 100 participants in their analysis. They evaluated the quality of those trials  and found there was a low assurance of evidence for most from the studies, but that sweetie consistently produced either fairly neutral or beneficial effects, depending on processing, floral source and quantity.

The median daily dose of honey in the trials had been 40 grams, or regarding two tablespoons. The median length of 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 because acacia honey) – the honey from False Acacia or Black Locust Trees – and clover, which is common in North America.

Khan said that whilst processed honey clearly loses many of its health results after pasteurization – typically 65 degrees Celsius meant for at least 10 minutes – the effect of a hot drink upon raw honey depends on various factors, and likely may not destroy all its beneficial properties.

He furthermore noted other ways to consume unheated honey  such as with fat free yogurt, as a spread and in greens dressings.

Long term studies should focus on natural honey, Khan said, and from a single floral source. The goal would be top quality evidence, and a better understanding of the many compounds in honey that can work wonders for health. “ We need a consistent product that can deliver consistent health benefits, ” said Khan. “ Then the market will follow. ”

The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ministry of Research and Innovation’s Ontario Research Finance, and Diabetes Canada.

Khan has obtained prior funding support through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the International Living Sciences Institute and the U. S. National Honey Panel. For a full list of all of researchers’ past funding, see the Declaration of Interest section at the end of the journal article.

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