The Impressive Benefits of Honey for Human Health

Thursday 14 December 2023

It is no secret that honey reportedly has a multitude of benefits for human health. The use of honey for traditional medicine can be traced back more than 8000 years1. In addition to the important role of honey in traditional medicine, during the past few decades, honey has been subjected to laboratory and clinical investigations by several research groups and it has found a place in modern medicine. This week’s blog will discuss the benefits of honey for human health, with a particular focus on a recent article in the Canadian Honey Council Fall 2023 HiveLights written by Mike McInnes (author of recently published book “Honey Sapiens”).

The Impressive Benefits of Honey for Human Health

There have been numerous studies in the last 20 years indicating the metabolic benefits of honey. These studies have been appearing regularly in peer-reviewed journals. Recently, a book published by Mike McInnes titled “Honey Sapiens” highlights numerous studies on the benefits of honey for human health. Overall, the book discusses how honey has the potential to protect the human brain and heart.


A team of Canadian researchers2 investigated how honey can reduce numerous biomarkers of heart ill-health, including fasting glucose, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting triglycerides and alanine aminotransferase. Additionally, the team demonstrated that honey may increase positive indicators of heart health, such as high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The results of this study are impressive, where it was shown that consuming 40 grams of honey daily for a period of 8 weeks may have all the forementioned impacts on the human heart. Multiple mechanisms could explain the results of the mentioned study. The main suggestion being that honey has a complex composition of organic acids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, and bioactive substances, all of which can mediate an effect on cardiometabolic outcomes3.

Honey also has multiple benefits for the human brain. By substituting refined sugars with honey, the essential enzyme glutamine synthetase may be protected from degradation4. This enzyme is needed to provide the brain with energy, but it is overwhelmed when too much refined sugar is consumed by the human body. In this sense honey can be neuroprotective. Additionally, in a recent review5, other possible benefits of honey for brain health were identified including those related to memory, neuroprotective effects, anti-stress, and anti-nociceptive potentials.

Furthermore, isomaltulose, a rare sugar present in honey, has been shown to act as a prebiotic by promoting the growth of Lactobacillus acidophillus, Lactococcus lactis, and Saccharomyces cerevisae, which are bacteria associated with a healthy gut microbiome, thus contributing to the benefits of honey6.

Mike Innes claims in his book, “Honey Sapiens”, that if refined sugar in our diet was replaced with honey several metabolic diseases could be prevented, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the neurodegenerative conditions Alzheimer’s and autism spectrum disorder. As the body of evidence, supported by credible science, grows, it is yet to be determined if these claims will be fully substantiated, but the current consensus is that honey is a healthy part of a balanced diet.


  1. Eteraf-Oskouei, T. and Najafi, M. 2013. Traditional and modern uses of natural honey in human diseases: a review. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences16(6), p.731.
  2. Ahmed, A., Tul-Noor, Z., Lee, D., Bajwah, S., Ahmed, Z., Zafar, S., Syeda, M., Jamil, F., Qureshi, F., Zia, F. and Baig, R. 2022. Effect of honey on cardiometabolic risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews.
  3. Machado De-Melo, A.A., Almeida-Muradian, L.B.D., Sancho, M.T. and Pascual-Maté, A. 2018. Composition and properties of Apis mellifera honey: A review. Journal of apicultural research, 57(1), pp.5-37.
  4. McInnes, M. 2023. Honey Sapiens: Human Cognition and Sugars - The Ugly, the Bad and the Good. Hammersmith Books Limited. pgs.360.
  5. Zamri, N.A., Ghani, N., Ismail, C.A.N., Zakaria, R. and Shafin, N., 2023. Honey on brain health: A promising brain booster. Frontiers in aging neuroscience14, p.1092596.
  6. Shyam, S., Ramadas, A. and Chang, S.K. 2018. Isomaltulose: Recent evidence for health benefits. Journal of Functional Foods48, pp.173-178.

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