Conduct a Google search for the health benefits of honey and a sprawling list of organic food and health and fitness websites will appear. Hundreds of websites will claim seemingly minor or more radical benefits of honey. Conduct a similar search for royal jelly and the claims will become more outlandish. Several sources claim that honey and royal jelly will cure menopause and male infertility. Are these health benefits replicable and observable or anecdotal? Let’s examine three more often claimed benefits of honey: weight loss, improved athletic performance, and improved memory.
First, in general, the National Honey Board states, “a tablespoon of raw honey contains 64 calories, is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free,” and royal jelly contains “vitamin B5 and other B vitamins, biotin, inositol, folate, nucleic acids, gamma globulin and 17 different amino acids, including the eight essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce.” Honey contains nutrients such as protein, water, fiber, sugars and various vitamins and minerals. Fiber and other nutrients are essential to dissolve fats and cholesterol. While claiming honey contributes to weight loss may be an exaggeration, it is certainly a better sweet alternative than sugar or artificial sweeteners. Honey has also been shown to lower weight gain, adiposity, and triglycerides than sucrose in rats.
Next, honey has been shown to boost athletic performance. Richard Kreider of the University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory stated, "Most of the studies to date have shown supplementation with glucose to provide the extra staying power. We were pleased to find that honey, a 'cocktail' of various natural sugars, performed just as well." Honey, being a natural source of carbohydrates, is a great boost for exercise.
Lastly, a study has claimed that women experienced a boost in memory after eating twenty grams of honey a day. However, some have criticized the study for the lack of a blind procedure. Stanford researcher Dr. Victor Henderson stated that perceived memory problems are often not real when examined objectively. If there is real concern, memory issues are most likely related to depression, sleep problems, or medication. Also, some voiced concerns over the amount of honey the participants were required to eat.
Clearly, raw honey does have nutritional and health benefits. While it may not be a cure-all for all ailments, it can greatly help weight loss and athletic performance. Currently, one is not able to conclude that honey can cure memory loss or other more serious conditions.