Easy Ways to Use Honey and Sweeten Your Day
- Add a few drops to vinaigrette dressing to sweeten green salad and side dish vegetables.
- Combine with equal parts mustard and just a dab of mayo to make your own honey-mustard sauce for dipping chicken fingers and spreading on sandwiches. Honey and ginger also make a delicious glaze for salmon, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate guidelines.
- Whisk honey into whipped cream cheese or ricotta; add grated lemon, orange, grapefruit, or lime zest (peel), or try ground cinnamon or ginger. Spread it on muffins or quick breads, or use as cupcake frosting.
- Drizzle over an open-faced nut butter sandwich.
- Combine with yogurt and fruit in a bowl or blend into smoothies.
Is Honey Good or Bad for You? And How Does It Compare to Sugar?
Nutritionally speaking, raw honey contains very small amounts of a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and disease-fighting antioxidants that, theoretically, make it more healthful than granulated white sugar (table sugar).
But honey is mostly a combination of glucose and fructose — some of the same sugary substances that make up white sugar (though in varying proportions) — as well as other liquid sweeteners from natural sources, such as agave and maple syrup. Compared with granulated sugar, honey is sweeter, higher in calories, and higher in carbs and total sugars.
One tablespoon (tbsp) honey, equal to 21 grams (g), provides about 60 calories and 17 g carbohydrates (16 to 17 g from sugar), while 1 tbsp granulated sugar provides 49 calories and 13 g carbohydrates (13 g from sugar).
Honey’s natural antibacterial qualities are well known. In the hive, as the original nectar dehydrates and is converted into what we know as honey, small amounts of antiseptic hydrogen peroxide are produced. Because hydrogen peroxide has antibacterial qualities, honey has traditionally been used as a topical medication and is currently used to promote healing and prevent infection in skin wounds, burns, and ulcerations, including surgical wounds, pressure sores,diabetic foot ulcers, and various types of leg ulcers.
When modern antibiotics were developed, medicinal use of honey fell out of favor. But with the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in recent decades, researchers are looking anew at honey’s antibacterial qualities. Because bacteria do not generally seem to develop resistance to honey, it has therapeutic potential for use as a broad-spectrum antibiotic (one that can treat different types of infections). Just be sure to follow your doctor’s orders. This potential benefit doesn’t trump the known benefits of modern medicine.
Honey is the subject of ongoing research as a potential ingredient in supplements and medications that could be used to treat a wide range of health issues, including asthma, gum disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, diarrhea, fungal infections, inflammation, internal and external ulcerations, viruses, and even certain types of cancer.
Because most experiments to date have been performed on laboratory animals and in petri dishes, using specially prepared, medical-grade honey, it’s not yet clear if or exactly how honey can be used successfully by people for most of these conditions. If future research confirms honey’s effectiveness in humans, scientists will also need to determine which types of honey are potent enough to have a medicinal effect and, when taken orally, how much honey is effective for different conditions.