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Benefits of Honeycomb: Is It Really Good For You?

Honeycomb is so sweet, golden and delicious. Is it possible this decadent whole food is actually good for you?

Read on to find out about the nutrients and health benefits of honeycomb.

Are there nutrients in honeycomb?

The macronutrients in honeycomb are pretty much carbohydrate, and that carbohydrate is pretty much sugar, 17 grams per tablespoon to be exact. That works out to about 68 calories per tablespoon of honeycomb.

USDA FoodData Central and fitness trackers agree that there are no other significant nutrients in honeycomb, in the amounts you would normally eat.

In Pennington’s Bowes and Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, honeycomb isn’t listed, but honey gets credit for some nutrients. It contains just a smidgen of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, iron, copper and manganese. But trust me, you would have to eat a LOT of honey to get anywhere close to your daily requirement of these vitamins and minerals. 

Is Honeycomb a Superfood?

Nutritionally speaking, honeycomb is not a superfood. Honeycomb (and honey) don’t contribute a substantial amount of nutrients to your diet. However honeycomb still has many amazing health benefits. Read on to learn more.

What are the health benefits of honeycomb?

About Propolis

Honeycomb is made from beeswax, and this is partly made of propolis. Propolis is a mixture of plant resins and the bee’s saliva. It has strong antimicrobial activity. Propolis protects the hive from viruses, bacteria and molds. Bees even use propolis to mummify bugs that get caught in their hives (1).

Honeycomb has over a hundred different volatile compounds that give it these antimicrobial properties (1).

The antimicrobial properties of propolis are good for the digestive tract. Studies show it can help to eradicate H. pylori and other pathogens in the mouth and stomach (3).  

Research suggests that honeycomb might be an effective therapy for dental caries because of its ability to keep microbes under control (2).

About Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is another amazing substance found in honeycomb. This is a jelly-like material secreted from the glands of worker bees. It is a superfood for bees, and is fed exclusively to the Queen Bee throughout her life, and immature bees for their first couple days (3).  

You can find royal jelly sold as a stand-alone supplement, with a whole list of medicinal claims. It contains over 180 different organic compounds like fatty acids, proteins, immunomodulators, AMP and various hormones (3).  

However the research tends to use isolated propolis and royal jelly rather than honeycomb. The concentration is going to be much greater with a stronger effect. So it isn’t clear that just eating honeycomb will have all of these beneficial effects. 

Honeycomb is a long-time traditional treatment for wound care. As far back as ancient Egypt in 1500 B.C, there are records of beeswax being used to treat burns, wounds and joint pain. 

Ayurvedic medicine also uses beeswax to treat abrasive wounds and burns (4).  

The evidence here is so great that it is becoming a main-stream wound care treatment today. 

Applied directly to the skin, honey can clear infections and inflammation and help to regenerate tissue more quickly (3).

Is Honeycomb Better Than Honey?

Yes, eating honeycomb is probably better for your health than eating plain honey. The beeswax in honeycomb contains substances like propolis and royal jelly, which are filtered out of liquid honey (4).

Is Honeycomb Good For A Sore Throat?

Honeycomb may be an effective way to treat the symptoms of upper respiratory tract, such as cough, sore throat and congestion. This research is done with honey, but it stands to reason that honeycomb will have similar, if not greater, antimicrobial properties (5).

Honeycomb and Allergies

Many people eat a small amount of raw, local honey every day to combat seasonal allergies. There is some evidence that honey might decrease symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchy face and throat, headache and sinus pain. However, according to the research you need to eat several tablespoons of honey, not just a tiny amount.

The studies that show positive effects used 50-80 grams of honey per day, which is between two and four tablespoons. 

Again, this research uses honey and not honeycomb.

The Research

One study recruited subjects from an otolaryngology clinic in Malaysia. In this randomized controlled trial, the active group ate 1 gram of raw, unprocessed, multifloral honey per kg of body weight, daily. The control group got a honey-flavored corn syrup. 

Twenty grams of honey = one tablespoon. So a person weighing 130 pounds, or 58.5 kg, was eating 3 tablespoons of honey each day.

Subjects took antihistamine drugs up until 4 weeks before the study ended. Those taking the antihistamine + honey had improved symptom scores over the control group. The honey-eaters also had improved scores during the last 4 weeks of the study when they were not taking antihistamines. The control group did not improve during the last 4 weeks.

This study demonstrates that honey may be a good addition to antihistamine drugs to help them stretch further, and may also act on its own to decrease symptoms of allergic rhinitis. However you might need to eat a lot of honey every day to get these benefits.

There are a few ways that honey might help with allergy symptoms. Honey has immunosuppressive activity and inhibits mast cells. The low doses of pollen and other substances in honey might create a tolerance. It may even act through anti-inflammatory properties (6).

However, when you eat 3 tablespoons or more of honey every day for a long period of time, you might develop some other problems with weight or high blood glucose.

Propolis, the substance that acts as a glue in honeycomb, has promising potential as a therapeutic for different types of allergies. However most of the research here uses isolated propolis, not the whole honeycomb, so it’s hard to know how effective honeycomb would be (7).

How do you eat honeycomb?

What Does Honeycomb Taste Like?

Honeycomb tastes kind of like a honey-drenched chewing gum. It is literally made of wax. As you chew it up and suck out all the honey, you soon find you are chewing on a small ball of wax. 

It is safe to swallow the waxy part, but probably best not to eat a lot. Honeycomb wax has been known to create a blockage in the intestines.

If you are allergic to bees, it is best to avoid honeycomb as well.

The Last Drop

You would not normally eat enough honey to get a substantial amount of nutrients. It contains mostly sugars. There are some small amounts of vitamins and minerals, however you would have to eat quite a bit to get these benefits of honeycomb.

In spite of that, there are still many phytonutrients in honeycomb that can be good for your health. It may be effective for dental caries, symptoms of upper respiratory infection, treating wounds, and symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Most of the research uses honey, not honeycomb. However, we know honeycomb contains the same antimicrobials, probably in even greater quantities, so we can assume it will have the same benefits. 

One drawback is that the research tends to use a lot of honey, 3 tablespoons or more daily, to get results. If you eat this much honey every day, you might have other health consequences.

The bottom line? Enjoy raw, local honeycomb in moderation. Maybe eat a little more if you are fighting off upper respiratory infections or at the start of allergy season. Find your balance and see how well it works for you.

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