The Health Advantages of Honey

Siona Watson, Flickr

Do you add a little honey to your tea or spread a tablespoon on toast? Good move. While honey contains a few more calories per teaspoon than sugar, the former has a number of healthy advantages over the latter.

When buying honey, remember that light and amber-colored varieties are mild-tasting, while darker ones have a bolder, richer flavor. Each also has a slightly different antioxidant profile. Here’s why runners should enjoy the sweet stuff.

  • Fuel performance
    A study on cyclists found consuming 60 calories of honey (one tablespoon) with water every half hour works as well as an energy gel in improving sprinting efforts at the end of a long workout.
  • Control blood sugar
    Studies show that using honey over regular table sugar can help steady blood-sugar levels—great news for those with prediabetes or insulin resistance.
  • Boost antioxidant levels
    Compared to other sweeteners, honey has higher levels of antioxidants. In one study, subjects who drank tea with buckwheat honey showed a seven percent increase in antioxidant levels compared to subjects who had tea with sugar.
  • Curb cholesterol
    Using honey instead of sugar for two weeks can lower your “bad cholesterol” and reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation in vessels.
  • Improve G.I. health
    Honey contains oligosaccharides, a type of sugar that fuels the growth of immune-boosting bacteria in the gut, promoting a healthy intestinal tract.


  • SOFTEN IT: To soften crystallized honey, warm the container in a pot of boiled water until the honey turns to liquid.
  • SWAP IT: Use ¾ cup honey in place of 1 cup sugar. For each cup of honey you use, reduce other liquids by ¼ cup.
  • MEASURE IT: Spray a measuring cup with oil, then add honey. It will pour out of the cup without making a sticky mess.
  • WHIP IT: Look for whipped honey at supermarkets. Its smooth, creamy consistency is similar to butter.


  • 20 MINUTES: Bake energy bars. Mix 3 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 2 eggs, walnuts, orange zest, and 2 cups granola. Bake 15 minutes at 375°F.
  • 15 MINUTES: Grill vegetables. Place sliced zucchini, peppers, and onions on hot grill. Brush with 2 tablespoons hony, ¼ cup white wine, and 1 teaspoon garlic.
  • 10 MINUTES: Fruit smoothie. Blend together ½ cup blueberries, 1 ripe peach, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon buckwheat honey, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and ice.
  • 5 MINUTES: Salad dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ cup honey, cup red-wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons minced scallions, and salt and pepper.

Courtesy Runner's World, September 2011

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