Researchers at the University of Toronto conducted a thorough meta-analysis of several previous clinical trials to better understand the role of honey in combating certain cardiometabolic risk factors.

Honey from UkrainePhoto: Yuriy Zuschyk

Composition of honey

Produced by bees from the nectar of flowers, honey contains various complex sugars, organic acids, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and other biologically active components. Generally considered as an alternative to sugar, honey has many health benefits such as weight loss, reduced inflammation and lipid profile, blood sugar control, which have been demonstrated in many in vitro and in vivo clinical studies.

Despite this evidence, no large-scale human studies have been conducted on the health benefits of honey. It is also necessary to investigate how different types of honey, their sources, whether processed or not, contribute to potential benefits.

Conducting research

The researchers searched databases for studies on the effects of oral honey consumption for at least seven days. These studies examined how honey consumption affects obesity, glycemic control, lipids, blood pressure, uric acid, inflammatory markers, and markers of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

importantly – the selected studies involved healthy patients who did not regularly consume excessive amounts of sugar.

Research results

From the 809 studies identified, the researchers analyzed 18 controlled diets with a total of 1,105 participants. In these tests, the average daily dose of honey was 40 grams for an average duration of eight weeks. Clinical trials have shown that honey improves lipid control by lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

The researchers found that the floral source and method of processing the honey had an effect. For example, acacia and clover honey, as well as raw honey, have been linked to faster reductions in glucose and total cholesterol.

The benefits of unpasteurized raw honey can be attributed, at least in part, to the presence of probiotic bacteria such as lactobacilli in the product. They have been investigated in other studies and found to improve immunity, lower serum lipids, have antioxidant effects, and support short-chain fatty acids in the gut.


Despite the high concentration of sugar in honey (about 80%, mostly fructose and glucose), the current study showed that other bioactive substances provide cardiometabolic benefits for consumers. In addition to the common sugars in honey, rare sugars make up about 14% and have been found to alter the glycemic profile in both the short and long term.

Thus, the presence of these sugars may also contribute to the observed benefits of honey.

The point is more about substitution: using honey instead of sugar, syrup, or other sweeteners can reduce cardiometabolic risk factors.