Is Honey a Safe(r) Sweetener?

I pride myself on making the Primal Blueprint an easy lifestyle to follow. If you were just starting out, you could easily read a few articles, do a couple hours of research, and start making positive changes to your diet, exercise routine, sleep schedule, or daily life immediately. You could ditch grains or replace some chronic cardio with weights or switch to grass-fed meat, and even if you did nothing else, you’d have made a significant improvement to your life and eventually your health. I often receive thank you emails for putting together a program that Internet-illiterate grandmas and grandpas can get into and actually understand. That said, sometimes things get a little confusing.

Like with honey.

See, as a general rule, I am against the consumption of refined sugars, especially sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. To understand why – if you’re still wondering – check out my definitive post on the subject. But what about the preeminent unrefined natural sweetener – the rich amber nectar that’s been available to humans from the very start (albeit protected by barbed, flying suicide stingers)? How are we to approach honey? Because while refined sugar and particularly fructose are to be avoided, alone those are refined, manmade, processed “foods.” White sugar is just sucrose, which is just fructose and glucose. High-fructose corn syrup is just fructose and glucose. Isolated fructose is just fructose. Those aren’t even foods, though they can be eaten; they’re just disaccharides and monosaccharides, with zero minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, flavonoids, and other micronutrients.

Honey, on the other hand, contains over a hundred different compounds, not just fructose and glucose. It has a small amount of minerals, amino acids, and vitamins, but the point is that it’s not just sugar. Entire colonies of honey bees thrive on the stuff. It’s food by any definition. And whole foods are different than refined foods, and especially refined food-like products. They have different effects when you eat them. Eating an almond is not the same as taking a shot of rancid seed oil. Eating a handful of berries isn’t the same as sprinkling an equal amount of berry-extracted sugar in your water and drinking it.

The question, then, is whether or not this holds true for honey. Is honey “better” than sugar or HFCS? Are some of the harmful effects of the sugar contained therein mitigated by the presence of bioactive compounds? Let’s take a look.

(Speaking of which, I won’t get into the individual compounds found in honey, because each batch of honey is unique. Besides the whole vomiting thing, honey bees don’t really have strict manufacturing standards, and which bioactive compounds end up in the honey depends on the variety of flowers visited by the bees, as well as the season. I might refer to different honey varietals, like buckwheat or wild flower, but keep in mind that buckwheat from area to area and even harvest to harvest will have different pollen concentrations, giving the honey different qualities.)

Humans have certainly been figuring out ways to get their mitts on the sticky mess for as long as we’ve realized it tasted good: a 6,000 year-old cave painting from Spain even depicts a honey hunter climbing a ladder, stick in hand and satchel at its side, gathering honey as bees swarm. Modern day people, like the San bushmen and the Ache of Paraguay, are honey hunters, with the Ache getting upwards of 10% of their calories from wild honey (and the larvae found in the honeycombs). For a visceral idea of the great lengths some people go to for honey, check out this incredible video of a tribesman from the Congo scaling a 40 meter tree to get at the hive. That’s dedication. After that climb, I imagine his muscle and liver glycogen stores were rather depleted and the honey was a welcome fuel source.

Studies on honey paint a pretty favorable picture, actually, especially when it’s compared to table sugar or other more refined sweeteners. Let’s dig in to a few, shall we?

In one study (PDF), researchers compared the effects of honey and refined fructose feeding on rats. Using equal amounts of fructose – just different sources – the authors explored the effects on several health markers. Feeding fructose raised triglycerides more than feeding honey. Feeding fructose decreased blood levels of vitamin E, while honey did not, suggesting less oxidative stress. Feeding fructose also promoted more inflammation than honey. All in all, honey did well for itself.

Another set of studies compared the effects of honey, sham-honey (a mix of fructose and glucose), dextrose (which is just glucose), and sucrose on several health markers in various groups of people. There’s a lot to wade through, but the gist is that honey performed well. Honey resulted in smaller blood glucose spikes (+14%) than dextrose (+53%). Sham honey increased triglycerides, while real honey lowered them (along with boosting HDL and lowering LDL). After fifteen days of honey feeding, CRP and LDL dropped. Overall, honey improved blood lipids, lowered inflammatory markers, and had minimal effect on blood glucose levels.

In rats, honey produced lower triglycerides, less body fat, and greater satiety (as indicated by the spontaneous reduction in food intake) when compared to sucrose.

Looks like wildflower honey might go well in a meat marinade, too: wildflower honey inhibited lipid oxidation in ready to eat beef patties. I’m not sure what a ready to eat beef patty is, and I don’t think I want to know, but the honey info is good to have. Wildflower honey, which comes from bees dining on a wide variety of wild plant life, outperformed clover honey in the study.

Although discerning the full effects of individual honey-based compounds is many research years out, it looks like honey with lower levels of bioactive compounds acts more like regular sugar while honey with higher levels of compounds acts more like a whole food. In one study (PDF), buckwheat honey was found to be the richest in phenolics and flavonoids, while rapeseed (yes, canola) honey was found to have the lowest number of compounds. The researchers didn’t explore the metabolic effects of the two honeys, but another study did find that people who ate rapeseed honey, but not acacia honey, displayed highly elevated levels of serum fructose. The same thing happens when you eat HFCS. That tells me the bioactive compounds are probably responsible for the “benefits” of honey.

Darker honeys are typically higher in bioactive compounds and show greater antioxidant activity. They also taste better, if you ask me. Buckwheat is a personal favorite of mine and ranks quite highly in antioxidants, even showing some beneficial effects on serum antioxidant status in those who consume itWhen in doubt, choose the darker honey.

Now, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I don’t go out of my way to dip my paws in a jar labeled “Hunny,” but I keep some raw buckwheat honey around. The last pound I bought has lasted me well over six months, and there’s still plenty left in the bottle. And in the past, it has certainly proven useful. Can you eat it? Sure; you can do just about anything you want. Should you eat it? That depends. Are you active and in need of liver glycogen repletion like the guy who climbed the Congolese tree? Then raw honey might be a nice choice for a treat. It’s clearly superior to refined sugar, and the extent of the damage we normally see from sugar intake doesn’t seem to occur with honey.

What do you think? Does honey fit into your diet? Is it Primal? Let me know what you think.

TAGS:  is it primal?

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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343 thoughts on “Is Honey a Safe(r) Sweetener?”

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    1. I use raw honey to treat skin conditions – rashes, dermatitis, also burns and sores. It is amazing and works very quickly as it is a powerful anti bacterial and clears up infections as well as being very soothing (although a bit sticky!). Nurses are now using honey dressings on pressure sores.

      1. yes perfect for external use. honey is for bees just like milk is for baby cows/animals

    2. I

      After a workout I take kefir grains, a raw egg, a table spoon of raw honey( not heat treated as this impairs quality) cinnamon and grated ginger, hemp powder.
      Whisk the lot and I always feel great after it. The cinnamon and ginger act as anti-inflammatory, kefir grains, hemp powder, and raw egg, provide a good boost after the Insanity workout. And I really feel good afterwards.

      Keep up the good work.


  1. I’m not sure if it’s primal or not, and I rarely consume it, but I use honey to wash my face. It does a FANTASTIC job and leaves my skin glowing. I follow up with some almond oil and my skin looks better at 36 than it did when I was a teenager. I seldom wear make-up because I no longer need it. But if you want to use natural products for your skin, I highly recommend it.

    1. Honey is one of my staples. If I have a herb tea (two or three cups a week), I’ll have honey in it. A regular meal for me is organic probiotic full fat yoghurt, with a few berries, then covered (not smothered!) with an organic honey.

      What I have picked up here is to focus on the darket honeys.

      Any thoughts on maple syrup folks?


      1. 100% Maple syrup is probably good for you in similarities to honey. Just beware the cheap stuff. Maple syrup is not cheap, and a lot of name brands in stores have fillers like high fructose corn syrup.

        1. Where is your evidence that maple syrup is similar to honey in regards health matters? It’s not at all the same; sucrose vs. fructose, various biologically active chemicals vs. a flavor – which we can make in a lab.

          It’s just sugar.

        2. sucrose vs. fructose? Fructose is 100% poison. Sucrose is about 1/2 fructose, so half the poison. But honey and maple really are roughly the same if youre looking at the -oses. In a one-ounce (28 gram) serving of maple syrup half is glucose, half is fructose (there is more water in maple syrup so in that 28 g serving only about 19 grams are carbs. The rest is water.). Honey has about a gram and a half total of maltose and galactose and the rest is split roughly 50/50 glucose and fructose. In that 28 g. of honey there is only 5 grams of water, so youre getting more carbs. Honey has a tiny bit of protein and maple syrup has a tiny bit of fat. Maple syrup has a tiny bit of a vitamin called choline. Honey has a few other vitamins, also in tiny amounts. Both have some various trace minerals. Both are strongly inflammatory. So neither adds much in the way of nutrition. They both add taste. If that’s the taste you want. If you want to compare that with HFCS… It too is roughly 50/50 glucose/fructose. Has no trace minerals or vitamins, to speak of. It is also strongly inflammatory. So make no mistake. None of them is good for you. You just have to pick your poison. Compared to a 28 gram serving of fruit, say apple is instructive, maybe. First, its mostly water, about 23 grams. The 3 grams or of -ose is about 3/4 fructose (I guess thats why its called fruit sugar) and 1/4 glucose. And about a gram of fiber. Some vitamins (A mostly) and some trace minerals (mostly potassium). Tiny amount of protein and fat (probably in the seeds). Oranges… mostly water (24 g) slightly more fructose than glucose, potassium, and vitamins A & C. Little more protein than apples and tiny amount of fat (again, probably the seeds). The bottom line is you eat something sweet you’re eating poison. Total poison in an apple or orange (roughly 150 g) is still less than the poison in either 28 g of honey maple syrup or HFCS. And the sweet taste, because it takes time to eat an apple or orange, lasts. And the fruit, because of the water, is mildly inflammatory.

        3. @johnson,

          Sugar is indeed poison, especially fructose (glucose can be readily used by most bodily cells; fructose can only be used by the liver). But I’d like to add a few things. HFCS is not 50/50 fructose/glucose. It’s more like 60/40 fructose/glucose, which is why it’s called HIGH FRUCTOSE Corn Syrup. With HFCS, you are consuming 20% more fructose than with ordinary table sugar (which is 50/50).

          While whole fruit (apples and oranges in your example) contain sugars, less of the “poison” will be digested because of the presence of fiber. The soluble and insoluble fiber will physically trap some of the sugars and allow it to pass through the digestive tract. In other words, a calorie is not a calorie.

        4. @jon,
          You are wrong on the makeup on HFCS. It is in fact 50/50 fructose and glucose. It is called “HIGH” Fructose Corn Syrup, because normal Corn Syrup is virtually all glucose. So it is “high” fructose corn syrup compared to “normal” corn syrup. Don’t spread the hype. HFCS is the same glucose/fructose mix as table sugar, “raw” sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and maple syrup. Honey is pretty close. As the author pointed out, some, such as maple syrup, molasses and honey contain other nutrients, although minimal.

          The bottom line is that it’s not the sugar we add to our food that is the problem. HFCS didn’t make us fat-nation. It’s the amount of highly sweetened, empty calorie foods and PRIMARILY sugary drinks that we consume that is the problem. Whether you sweeten your probiotic plain yogurt and whole grain natural granola with honey, agave nectar or a sprinkle of white sugar doesn’t so much matter as do you follow it up with a donut and glass of apple juice. As you stated, a calorie is not necessarily a calorie.

      2. I’m curious about maple syrup too. Sometimes I find myself sensitive (possibly fructose malabsorption) to honey so I use maple syrup. I also use it in my homemade coconut yoghurt so my nephew can eat it (apparently babies can’t have honey.) I also absolutely LOVE the taste of maple so I really hope it’s good like honey…

        1. Babies can develop botulism from honey. I’m not sure at what age we develop an antibody to counter that, but I believe age two should be ok, maybe three to be safe. If you are trying your toddler on honey, strictly limit the amount (makes sense for us all).

        2. The thing about honey and babies is that babies under 1 year of age don’t produce enough stomach acid yet to kill the botulism spores. So once they’re a year old their digestive system is more mature and it’s usually ok to give them honey.

        1. Watch for formaldehyde that is used to increase production. Has been found even in organic.

      3. Not to knock your efforts, but there is no such thing as purely “organic” honey. Bees are wide ranging foragers and we beekeepers have little control over the source of nectar the little girls choose. It could be the poplar trees around the hive or it could be the Sevin dust covered cucumber plants from a nearby garden. If it says “organic” on the label, I would contact the supplier and ask them to prove it.

        1. Chris is right beekeepers have little control over where their bees forage. Most honey sold as “organic” is actually imported, though you may have to read the label carefully to find that out. As a beekeeper I know that it is next to impossible to get honey certified organic in California so I can’t help but wonder what it takes to get imported honey certified organic.

          What beekeepers do have control over is what chemicals they put in their hives and where they put their hives. These are things you can ask the beekeeper. We do what we can to prevent our bees exposure to pesticides by putting our hives on wild land as opposed to agricultural land.

          As far as pollen is concerned it is even more important to know the source of pollen because pollen (and beeswax) is where chemicals and pesticides get concentrated in the hive. There are many who suspect this is the reason for colony collapse, the hive becomes too toxic and the bees abandon it. Studies show that hives that died of colony collapse disease have high concentration of chemicals in the pollen and beeswax.

          I am more concerned that my food is local rather than “organic” because at least I can talk to the farmer and find out his practice. Many farmers I know grow organically but can’t afford the expense or bother that is involved in getting certified.

        2. I’ve always been curious about honey that’s labeled organic for this reason.. i find it’s also rather hard to come by..

        3. I totally agree with you Chris! Bees have quite a range and they only produce a tablespoon of honey in their entire lives, so next time you waste a little honey, remember – a bee gave it’s all for that little tiny bit!

      4. Adrian: I’m not much on maple syrup..way too sweet for my taste. I have a t. of molasses a day with a fruit smoothie (not the strong blackstrap), also use some darker honey at times in tea. I also use the unrefinded demerara sugar on yogurt, etc..

      5. My husband and I have had a hive of bees for several years and very much enjoy the honey that they provided. The funny thing is, as honey ages, it typically gets darker and most of the time “sugars”, meaning it crystalizes to a degree. So, I’m not sure that judging honey by it’s color is a very accurate way to go.

      6. excuse me? I’m just curious how honey can every really be graded as “organic”. A bee is a bee and isn’t going to just pick the “usda organic certified” flowers. The bee’s going to pick what ever flower she finds to make some sweet passionate honey love to. If you know how organic honey works- please let me know :-).

        ps. your meals sound delicious- organic or not!

        1. I believe to certified organic the hives have to have a 4 mile radius of organic plants around them. Bees typically won’t fly farther then that if there is any food closer. So if you surround them with organics then they can make organic honey.

        2. My husband is a bee keeper and it has been our study that bees only travel on average within a two mile range. In an area where we live majority of the properties owned within a three mile radius are 10 acres or better. AND knowing majority of these land owners we are aware of the vegitation grown here as well as majority of them are cattle or horse owners so we can say our honey is about as organic as it gets. Also “raw” honey is truly high in antioxidants and probiotics so wherever Patty got her stats from were either from store bought honey or someone else’s incomplete studies. Why do you think the Egyptians and the Romans called it the”food of the gods”? because of the healing properties and its preserving abilities.

    2. Do you use it neat? sounds sticky but I’d love to know more as I love using natural foods for beauty (I like using papaya as a face mask). Please explain your method…

      1. I use it as a face wash as well… take 1/4-1/2 teaspoon raw honey, “lather” it up with a few drops of water in the palm of your hand, spread it on your face. Leave it on for a few minutes and wipe off with a damp washcloth.

        p.s. Raina, I use almond oil for my facial moisturizer too! It’s great! And a drop of raw apple cider vinegar for any pimples that show up 🙂

        1. Rebekah- I have really dry and sensitive skin. I have had such a hard time finding a great face wash and moisturizer that lasts more than a few months before switching to something else. Do you know if the honey would dry out my skin more or does it tend to help with moisture?

        2. Hi Rebekah,

          Castor oil mixed with hiprose oil is a powerful moisturiser for the skin. I have been using for a month and a half now and my skin is glowing. At night, after taking my make up off, and washing my face I apply organic apple cider vinegar, let it dry and then apply the castor-hiprose oil to my face, neck and chest. Google it and you will learn about the benefit of Castor oil. I recently used it on my arm after some boiling oil splashed on it when cooking. I kept my arm in tepid water for about 15 min, but the pain was horrible. so I used the oils and the pain subsided immediately. Hope this help. Get the oils from heath shops or reputable online stores.

        3. I love this idea of using raw honey to wash my face! Do you know if it will wash off make-up? Thanks!

        4. Sandra, coconut oil removes makeup – any oil will, really. I use a mix of castor oil and oilive oil to wash in summer, and olive oil to moisturize. The honey didn’t work for me, but I’ll try the “lather” method again and see.

      2. I do something similar, but I add a couple pinches of uniodized salt and use it as a face scrub. I spread the honey/salt mixture over my face, jump into the shower, get my fingertips wet, scrub, and rinse off. Leaves my skin super soft and smooth, and glowing like a baby’s behind =)

        1. I use honey to scrub my behind, leaves my skin soft & smooth as a baby’ s face.

        2. I have dry, sensitive skin as well … no breakouts though as long as I stay paleo (which means no dairy for me) and I’ve had good luck with the oil cleansing method @ When the weather is mild, I don’t need extra moisturizer. But when I do, I use coconut oil.

          I also use honey occasionally to exfoliate and I agree, smooth skin!

    3. How do you use honey to wash your face? I am curious how that works…thanks!

      1. I do this too. I smear about 1-2 tablespoons
        (undiluted) all over my face, let it sit for a minute or 2 or not if I’m in a hurry and rinse it off with very warm water then splash my face with cold to close the pores. It rinses off very easily. If I’m about to had a shower, I’ll just get in the shower and of comes off. The raw, crystalised stuff provides additional exfoliation.

      2. Take a little honey (less that a teaspoon generally) in the palm of your hand, get it wet and spread it around. The longer you leave it on, the softer your skin will become. It actually makes a really good primer under make-up as well, but at that point, you only use a drop or so of honey and mix it with water (to make a honey type “wash”) and then splash it on your face and blot gently with a towel.

    4. I certainly believe honey to be primal… especially in it’s raw state. I use a heaping teaspoon full in my fruit smoothies 3-4 days a week. I say “heaping” because raw honey will crystalize after it is a few months old. I purchase it by the gallon which lasts me about 6months or so. Where I live I am able to purchase honey in the raw without it being heated, which destroys many of its’ nutrients. Honey never spoils either. There are other wonderful products of the hive as well including Bee Pollen which one should investigate the benefits of. I went primal in July of 2011 and went from 202 Lbs/ 92 Kg to 170 Lbs/75Kg today. Exercise, meats, fruit, honey, bee pollen, eggs, veggies and nuts… never felt better! 46 and going strong

      1. We use raw honey all the time as I sell it as a side business. My partner extracts the honey every 2 weeks and it is wonderful to see the change in the colour, smell and taste as the summer progresses.

        We use honey in everything where we previously used sugar. I make protein balls, halvah and homemade ice cream with honey. Yum!

        We also use it to help an irritated throat from colds or other illnesses. Works great. Plus, the kids just LOVE opening their mouths for that “medicine”. 🙂

        1. Would you be willing to share your ice cream recipe using honey?
          thank you.

    5. How do you wash your face with honey if you don’t mind me asking? I’ve heard this before and honey is also good to take care of those zits on the face but I’m never sure about how you go about doing it. Do you dilute the honey with a little bit of water? Or, what? Thank you for your info. I appreciate it.

      1. You can apply it straight from the bottle or you can mix it with water. Just a dab will do and honey is also a humectant. So it softens as it cleanses.

    6. How do you use it to wash our face? Mix it with something? Please give details!

    7. I use raw honey (not the drippy kind, but the solid version) as a face mask a couple times a week, and its great!!! I actually smooth it on first thing in the morning, and then go downstairs and lift heavy things (kettlebells) for 30-40 minutes, and wash it off in the shower. Don’t smooth on too much or it will melt off! It seems to be a gental, natural exfoliant. I don’t recommend wearing it out of the house tho…

      1. I would make a face wash. You could add a dab of honey to your face soap. I use it as a mask and recommend using it that way. A raw milk and honey bath would be a luxury. My daughter makes a sugar and honey scrub with some coconut oil or avocado if you want.

    8. That’s very interesting, Raina. So, you just wash your face with straight honey, and, I’m presuming, water? Then, dab some almond oil? I may have to try that. Are there cosmetic grades of almond oil and am I looking for phrases like “expeller pressed”, etc.?

    9. Honey is an astringent. The antibacterial properties are probably good for the complexion as well.

      1. honey has a very gently peroxide action. It is gentle enough to cleanse but not harsh enough to destroy cells like over the counter peroxide. That is why honey is used on burns and wounds with great efficacy.

    10. How do you “wash” your face with honey? I’m interested in losing the make-up!

    11. I just read this here and jumped in the shower and tried both the honey then almond oil. My skin is so soft!

      I also heard that local honey is grea for controlling allergy issues. Anyone have info that supports this?

      1. I have just experience to support honey greatly controlling allergies. Helps sleep and to prevent triggers as i am told by people who buy my honey for that reason.

    12. I am very curious how you use it to wash your face. Do you mix it with something, maybe even just warm water? Leave it on for a time, or wash it right off? Have you ever tried any other oils (like olive or coconut)? Thanks!

    13. Raina, I’ve never heard of using honey this way! Just smear it on your face and then… warm water??? Thanks, D.

    14. Raina,
      Do you just use regular honey straight from jar and rub on your face to clean with or do you mix it. Do you keep it on for a certain amount of time? How easy is it to get off, with just water? or do you use a certain process?
      I am trying to find something new to wash my face because the castille soap I am using isn’t really working, so might go the honey route.

      1. I use raw honey because I have it handy. You don’t need much at all. A little goes a long way. Just a bit on the finger with some oil will work fine and then massage is a bit. If you are just washing the face I just rinse off and don’t leave it on. If it is messy you have used too much. In the bath you could leave it on awhile otherwise no need. You will see results right away. Just try it.

    15. Not to knock someone else’s success, but I’ve tried washing my face with honey and was unimpressed. Might work if you have good skin to begin with. It does nothing for acne-prone skin. For that matter, in my own experience the so-called curative/antibacterial power of honey, including Manuka, is way overrated.

      1. Not if it is farm fresh because store bought is filtered and heated to ensure no spores are passed from the harvesting of honey to the consumer. You see most honey’s are imported from countries where there are no strict harvesting laws and parasites are typically problematic in these countries. Honey that is harvested locally is fairly closely moniter by the department of agriculture and parasites are not a typical epidemic here in the States so local beekeepers don’t have to heat or homoginize the honey to sell it. So the “anti-bacterial” properties are not killed off. If you do use locally harvested honey you will find that by using it as a cleanser and as a face mask a couple of times a week it can help your acne. However depending on the form of acne you have you may need to work on your diet alittle bit. Things like milk can be a cause or artificial sweeteners or even excessive caffein can aggravate the situation. BUT your worst culprit is typically white sugar. I have even gone to a dermatologist for a couple of years but they had to continually switch up my perscriptions every couple of months because your skin acclamates to the different products used so I have found these other changes have helped me to have better controlnover my break outs andnat time like during the holidays and I over indulge in to many homemade sweets it takes about three weeks after to get my skin in good shape again. Also I don’t use faberic softeners on my pillow cases and I fangs them often

      2. JNot if it is farm fresh because store bought is filtered and heated to ensure no spores are passed from the harvesting of honey to the consumer. You see most honey’s are imported from countries where there are no strict harvesting laws and parasites are typically problematic in these countries. Honey that is harvested locally is fairly closely moniter by the department of agriculture and parasites are not a typical epidemic here in the States so local beekeepers don’t have to heat or homoginize the honey to sell it. So the “anti-bacterial” properties are not killed off. If you do use locally harvested honey you will find that by using it as a cleanser and as a face mask a couple of times a week it can help your acne. However depending on the form of acne you have you may need to work on your diet alittle bit. Things like milk can be a cause or artificial sweeteners or even excessive caffein can aggravate the situation. BUT your worst culprit is typically white sugar. I have even gone to a dermatologist for a couple of years but they had to continually switch up my perscriptions every couple of months because your skin acclamates to the different products used so I have found these other changes have helped me to have better controlnover my break outs andnat time like during the holidays and I over indulge in to many
        homemade sweets it takes about three weeks after to get my skin in
        good shape again. Also I don’t use faberic softeners on my pillow cases
        and I change them often.

        and I fangs them often

    16. I too have been using honey to wash my face and I have seen the same results! I used to have severe acne in my T-zone, and since washing my face with raw honey, i haven’t had a pimple in over 6 months! My pores, which used to be huge and really visible have shrunk and my skin appears firmer. I use coconut oil to moisturize, and it is also wonderful!

      I don’t eat honey too often, but will on occasion make salad dressings or glazes with minimal amounts of it. It adds just the right amount of sweet for me.

  2. In Eastern Europe buckwheat honey is widely used, especially as a home-made cold medication. You can add it to warm milk or tea.

    I love buckwheat honey drizzled on top of full-fat Greek yogurt. The richest, smoothest dessert imaginable; beating all mass-produced sweets hands down.

    1. As far as treats go that’s definitely one of my favorites, too. Especially with some berries and almond meal sprinkled on top.

    2. Where are you guys finding full-fat greek yogurt?! The best I’ve been able to find is 2% Fage (which is not organic) at the local co-op.

      1. Don’t be afraid to ask the coop to get you the full fat… they just might!

      2. I get full fat greek yogurt at my local food store (Kroger around here). It’s probably not organic, but it is full fat as far as I can tell.

      3. Trader Joes has full fat greek yogurt, both plain and honey flavored.

        1. But, alas, not organic. I can’t seem to find full fat, organic, Greek yogurt either.

        2. You can make your own full fat greek yogurt. Go to you tube and watch a few videos to learn how. It’s really easy and delicious.

      4. I found the full fat Fage in my local Hy-Vee grocery store. My local co-op also only carries fat-free and 2%.

  3. “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” ! Is 7:15

    1. ‘You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants’ (Proverbs 27:27).

    2. My favorite:
      “If you find honey, eat just enough–too much of it, and you will vomit.” (Proverbs 25:16)

    3. Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, “Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals …

      Book of Armaments, Chapter 4, Verses 16 to 17

      1. Thou hast misquoted the Grail!

        Book of Armaments, Chapter 2, Verses 9 thru 21

  4. Don’t forget honey as a topical antibacterial agent for wound/burn healing. Raw, local honey is worth its mass in (liquid) gold.
    Oh, and it also makes the best, most ancient wine – Mead!

    1. I’ve got a couple gallons aging in my kitchen cabinet right now! I made it with a beautiful dark local Sonoran honey I found at a farmer’s market a while back. Really looking forward to bottling in a few months, when I can sample a taste or two. 🙂

      1. Also, I’ve got a few pounds of white Hawaiian kiawe honey I need to do something with. I’m planning on making a sparkling mead with it, which is a lot more work, which is why I’ve been too lazy to do it yet. :p

        1. Kiawe honey and dark chocolate are heavenly. Vosges Chocolates makes a divine truffle.

  5. I love raw honey, but I really don’t have much use for it. If I ever want anything sweet for whatever reason, truvia does just fine. A tiny bit of honey in tea is great though.

    1. I would advise against consuming Truvia, which is stevia that has been chemically altered.

      1. Truvia is extract of stevia mixed with erythritol, a sugar alcohol. It isn’t “chemically altered” any more than by heating the stevia to get the extract.

  6. What about eating the whole honeycomb?? Isn’t it supposed to be healthy?

    1. In my pre-paleo days, I used to eat honeycomb spread on hot, buttered toast. It is the most heavenly thing I’ve eaten. Now, though, I’m not sure how else to eat it. It has to warm up for the waxiness to break down and become creamy. Any ideas?

      1. Bake some bread using coconut flour, almond flour, or both? 🙂 I made coconut biscuits last night, with raw, local honey (the kind you need a knife to get out of the jar, with the beeswax and all) and it was delish.

      2. I eat honeycomb on a spoon as a weekend treat. A small spoonfull, and then I’ll chew the wax like gum. The honey flavor lasts quite a while, if you take small bites, and then spit out the wax. That’s how my dad always gave it to me as a kid, so that’s the only way I’ve ever eaten honeycomb.

  7. I got some raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized, organic honey from the grocery store the other day. The difference in taste is amazing. It helps, I’m sure, that I like the texture of crystallized honey. I do eat it, out of the jar, but only 1T at a time. I’m sure I could polish off the whole jar in one day, but that would probably be a bad idea.

  8. Mark,

    As far as sweeteners go, is honey a better choice than coconut nectar? I’ve read coconut nectar has a low GI (around 35 I believe). Your thoughts?


      1. I just made a batch of my granola (with coconut flakes instead of oats)using coconut oil/grass fed butter ghee blend and coconut nectar instead of maple syrup and coconut crystals instead of brown sugar. They both have a low glycemic index. It’s amazing! My husband calls it coconut crack. And an additional note…Per Dr. Bruce Fife, from his book Cooking with Coconut Flour, when coconut and coconut flour is added to foods, it lowers the glycemic index of these foods. The coconut moderated the release of sugar into the bloodstram so that there wasn’t a spike in blood glucose levels. BTW…it’s a GREAT cookbook. The cheese crackers (made with butter, I use raw milk cheese, coconut oil, coconut flour) and the hamberger muffins are fantastic. Invest in your food…invest in your health…

        1. Oh…BTW…forgot to add that I take a tablespoon (you have to work up to that level)of bee pollen and a 1/4 tsp. 3x concentration of royal jelly…amazing food. Great before a workout.

        2. Penny, please share your Coconut granola recipe. Sounds delicious.

        3. Here you go…
          Penny’s Coconut Granola
          3 cups coconut flakes, unsweetened
          1 ½ cups pistachios, walnuts or pecans
          1 cup raw almonds
          1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
          1 cup organic raisins
          ¼ tsp Celtic Sea salt
          2 tsp. cinnamon or to taste
          ½ cup coconut crystals
          MIX TOGETHER
          ½ cup coconut sap
          ½ cup coconut/grass fed butter ghee blend (melted in toaster oven) no microwave in this house
          Splash vanilla
          Add to dry mixture. Wisk one free range egg white and mix in. Put in 300 degree oven for 45 minutes…toss every 12 to 15 minutes…let cool and ENJOY!!! My husband’s favorite is to add some grass fed whole raw milk to it. Let me know if you like it. Invest in your food…invest in your health.

        4. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! Perfect timing (for me) since we just got a fresh batch of coconut products. I was thinking about making primal granola (among other things). Can’t wait to try your recipe!

  9. I feel like honey has been a great help in getting us to cut back on sugar and get rid of all refined sugars in our diet. For example I was able to make an almond flour birthday cake for my daughter’s birthday that used honey as a sweetener. I used 1/3 cup in 2 8×8 cakes and the frosting and the leftover cake became part of tiramisu cups for adults. That’s it, 1/3 cup for 32 servings of dessert! No on complained and it kept our blood sugar lower than traditional sugar would have. So should I have it in stuff everyday at that level, maybe not, but I do have it several times a week. Its natural and has helped me get rid of my seasonal allergies!

    1. The only problem with your recipe, if you follow Ayurvedic teachings, is that honey, believe it or not, is considered poisonous IF COOKED. You can sweeten your tea, etc., not problem, but for some reason honey becomes one of the bad guys when it is cooked!

      1. I’d have to ask about honey and cooking…there are whole cookbooks using raw honey instead of sugar and these are old cookbooks…we’re not dead yet and in fact, much healthier. Might be a bit over stated that honey becomes poisonous…just my thoughts

        1. I dunno about poisonous. It does lose some of its benefits, though, particularly as a humectant and moisturizer. In college, if we had a sore throat before a choir performance, a few tablespoons of raw honey will help. However, if you dissolve it into tea, and drink it with a sore throat, it won’t help nearly as much as it will raw.

        2. Honey and Lemon in warm to hot water is excellent for a raw throat due to talking or singing to much. I gave it to my husband after he preached AND led the singing in the same service and had to go lead singing in the next service as well and he said it worked like a charm. He sipped it as well during the song service.

        1. But baking with it isn’t the same as boiling it. in baking the food heats, but the internal temperature is less than the temperature of the oven.

          secondary note, honey in baked goods extends the shelf life because it reduces the activity of molds and bacteria.

      2. My understanding of what the Ayurveda is teaching about honey is that if its heated (aka pasteurized) that it is no longer a healing substance – but an unhealthy one. That line of reasoning is no different that the one were are following that says to use raw (unpasteurized) honey otherwise its not much better than sugar.

      3. I’m always suspicious of claims like that. What do they mean — poisonous?

  10. I have a major sweet tooth, so honey is definitely staying a part of my diet 🙂

    1. I think your sweet tooth will dramatically reduce as you go more and more paleo/primal. Mine has. I tried a taste of icecream yesterday and it was sickly whereas I used to eat a whole plateful. And grapes I would eat by the half kilo are too sweet to eat more than a couple and I think I can even give those a miss. So as one who has had a sweet tooth for most of 60 years I can tell you, its almost gone. Not only don’t I like the taste, but it doesn’t give me any satisfaction to eat sweet stuff either.

      1. I agree about the sweet tooth disappearing if you do go primal and get the sugars (including fruit) out of your diet.

        I never thought that I could get rid of my sweet tooth except perhaps through the use of serious self-discipline – which I have to admit just wasn’t working as I couldn’t stay disciplined enough.

        Now I don’t need to be disciplined, I simply don’t desire sweet things any more. I went primal back in October so it’s not very long really.

  11. When I add sweetness to a dish, I like to use it as one flavoring in a mix of others. So a big glob of honey in my flax meal and coconut flour porridge makes me gag. But half a teaspoon with some cinnamon and a plop of cream is heavenly.

    Also, honey has a shelf life of literally decades. So buy the best no matter the price and use it sparingly.

    1. Honey has an indefinite shelf life actually. They’ve found honey in ancient Egyptian tombs that was still good!

    2. Do you happen to have a recipe for flax meal and coconut flour porridge? I’m fascinated. Thanks!

  12. According to the ancient texts on Ayurveda Honey is considered on of the 5 nectars of life. It is believed that Honey has lot of medicinal properties. Honey is safe to consume during fasting without effecting the benefits of fasting. Ayurveda says honey is not digested and is absorbed directly into the blood stream and hence its benefits.

  13. I, too, like George, want to know about coconut nectar. Looking forward to your comment. Thanks.

  14. I only eat honey fro LOCAL sources. I do feel that local honey has helped me and my children stay clear of our normal spring and autumn allergies and ear aches (kids) as well as the flu or coughs they catch from classmates. Local works.

  15. I use honey in my morning coffee, and recently tried a recipe using honey in chili… It came out delicious!

    While I only try to consume sugars and other carbs when I need them (exercise, etc), honey can be a great, healthy way to reward yourself at times!

  16. I guess pure maple syrup would fit somewhere into the same realm as pure honey?

  17. I think it depends on why you are living primal/paleo. For me, weight loss continues to be a key motive, so I avoid anythign that is very calorie dense, meaning any and all sugar replacements (even agave, honey, etc). However, when I hit my ideal weight, I think an all natutral, non-processed honey would fit right in.

  18. Over two years ago I started eating one tsp. Of local raw buckwheat honey everyday due to seasonal allergies and thanks to a local paleo.
    Not since the third week after starting have I suffered from seasonal allegies..who knows!

  19. Good or bad, it stays in. I do much better staying low carb, high fat, if I do not make it too complicated. I live in Wisconsin, it is far too cold for a native Texan, so a hot cup of tea is a must for me, and of course, it must have honey. That being said, it is a good unprocessed, organic, local honey and only a couple of teaspoons a day

  20. I do have a sweet tooth and sometimes I just need something sweet, so honey is a good option. Plus, it never goes bad.

  21. Thanks for pointing out the difference between different types of honey. I never thought about the different varieties. I will now make sure that I go for the darker stuff.

    Honey is the only sweetener that I use…I put in homemade granola bars or to add to almond milk with cereal.

    1. I have been floundering this last week as I am just starting the Primal way of eating. I have been following the posts since I subscribed to Daily Apple and find I am so interesetd in this. I digress however, as my main reason for posting was about the honey. I steered clear of honey for years despite my dad always giving us that plus other things like ‘malt’ to help our immunity. It was always the golden syrup he bought though and as I got older I just found it too sugary. Are the darker honeys less sugary ( as in refined sugar). I dont have a sweet tooth , more savoury ….

      1. Buckwheat honey is a stronger flavor. it’s still very sweet, but has more flavor. It’s worth a try to see, but if you don’t like sweet tastes and still want to use honey for the health benefits, you could put a touch in a cup of tea rather than a tsp full, or make your cereal with just a spoon dipped half way into the honey jar, etc.

        Honey actually has such a sweet flavor that you can use 3/4 of the amount as you would use of regular sugar for the same amount of sweetness so almost anyone would use less of honey and save calories into the bargain.

  22. I have a teaspoon per day of raw, organic wildflower honey with my homemade protein shake. That is it for my sweet intake per day, although once in a while I like grade B organic Maple Syrup mixed into a sauce, etc. I find it does not increase my blood sugar levels, because I have no cravings anymore at all since I have been Paleo / Primal. I also use Stevia drops in espresso sometimes. I have lost 30+ pounds in 5 months and will do this for the rest of my life, because eating clean makes the most sense to me.

    1. Raphael – how do you make homemade protein shakes? You mean something other than whey protein powder with water?

  23. I LOVE to use just a small drop of organic honey in my salad dressings with nice balsamic. There are so much variety with honey. Manuka honey from New Zealand is well know healing properties- rock on litte bees!

  24. What about agave nectar? I hear that has a lower gi and carb content than honey or maple syrup. Maybe not as full of nutrients as honey but would it be better on a low carb primal diet?

    1. Agave is very refined and has more fructose than high fructose corn syrup.

    2. agave nectar contains a HUGE amount of fructose, making it very bad for your liver. if the low-carb aspect is important to you (as it is to me), stevia is probably your best friend when you HAVE to sweeten things.

      1. Wow, I thought Agave was ok. It seems to feature a lot in raw food sites in their desserts.

    3. read the article on food renegade about agave. avoid that stuff!!

    4. Agave “nectar” is a product using the exact same process that makes HFCS, except it is tweaked to make it all, or virtually all, fructose.

      That’s why it is low GI.

      1. Hi, if agave is no good and honey can’t be heated/cooked, what is a good sweetener for home made stuff for kids? Is stevia the only answer?

        1. I’d go with maple. It’s been heated already to make syrup from sap so there shouldn’t be any change whwn baking.

    5. from all I’ve read the answer is, NO. Agave nectar is as processed as High fructose corn syrup. chemicals and all. it is probably not even as good for you as raw cane sugar. it won’t have the trace nutrients that raw honey has because it isn’t obtainable outside of a lab.

  25. Despite having a big sweet tooth, I never found myself adding honey to anything. Last year, I began consuming a tablespoon of raw honey daily because I had read that it helps allergy sufferers. My allergies symptoms were less severe, though it’s hard to know how much of that was due to the honey. I did notice that eliminating sugar seem to make a huge difference. This year, I decided to forgo the honey. I’m continuing to follow the Primal Blueprint. Allergy season is almost here so we’ll see how things go. If my symptoms are OK, then I’ll know that honey is no longer necessary.

  26. BigNoseDog- I was told that in order for honey to be affective on allergies you had to consume local raw honey. I did try it once but did not find it to help; that may be becasue i did not eat it everyday!

  27. I am currently focusing on losing weight, so no sweeteners at all if I can help it. But once I get to my goal weight, I’ll bring back the honey and maple syrup (in small amounts) and see if I can keep em. I hope I can; they’re both delicious!

    1. This ALMOST answered my question, but I would like a little more clarity. I love my morning coffee and have 2-3 cups every morning, sweetened with honey and real cream. I get that honey is real food and good for me, but I need to lose about 15 lbs and I don’t want to dawdle about it. Is my daily honey sabotaging my weight loss? I also like to have at least one glass of wine each night. Is THAT sabotaging my weight loss? I’ve only been at this for a few weeks, but it comes naturally to me and I love it! Thanks for all the great information.

      1. Hey Kristy – keep it up! My wife and I have been doing about the same thing. She’s lost 25lbs since we started. I like to try to use a little less sweetener each time – I just sweeten my first cup then, warm it up with more coffee, but don’t re-sweeten. It’s interesting how your taste will change – I’ve been getting different organic coffee’s too, and really appreciate the flavors esp. with less honey and cream.
        Now if I could keep it to one glass of wine each night!

      2. In a word, yes. It’s the hormonal cascade effect from the honey & alcohol that will slow down weight loss, my opinion. Try to love something else in place of the coffee & wine ritual (replace with a new, better, habit) for a few weeks or months and you will be loving having reached your weight loss goal. Then add them back in a couple days a week as a luxury and see what happens with maintaining your weight.

        I like to think of it like this, every little action you can take, cutting out unnecessary foods/beverages, walking a little further, taking the stairs, adds up, sometimes exponentially & gets you to the goal sooner. Good luck! If you end up upgrading everything but the coffee & wine rituals, that’s OK too, no prize for being the fastest – even little changes benefit us!

  28. “The last pound I bought has lasted me well over six months, and there’s still plenty left in the bottle.”

    After 6 months honey loses almost all antioxidant abilities, so it’s better buy less but always have fresh honey (who knows how long it was stored by its manufacturer, but at least we can try).

    1. Some but not most of the nutritive value in honey is lost with time. Honey is 85% pre-digested carbohydrate, and that is its greatest food value. That essentially doesn’t change with time. There hasn’t been much scholarly research on exactly how much enzyme loss occurs in honey, with time. It is know known that diastase (or more properly, amylase)–the useful enzyme that “digests” starch–does degrade with time. Researchers have found that when in storage, honey loses about 3% of its diastase per month. This makes long-term storage honey slightly less nutritious, but it is still quite useful as a sweetener and as a useful carbohydrate.

    2. Your right, you have no idea how long that honey was stored in that hive before the bee keeper harvested it. LOL if it was a wild bee it could have been in there for decades, but if it was a local beekeeper, you can be assured that he harvests fresh ever year, and you can go directly to his home and buy from him is you so desire. Honey is generally harvested once a year, sometimes twice so if you buy enough for one year, you’ll know it’s as fresh as it can be. However I can’t imagine what gave you the idea that it would loose quality after six months. do the bees eat inferior stuff the rest of the year?

      1. The bees use the honey themselves and the reference “busy as a bee” come from the fact that they are very tidy house keepers. They are continuously cleaning their hive. They even carry their own dead off. Any bad honey would be disposed of but they themselves use the honey to feed their larvae as they grow as well as storing it themselves for the winter or for other times of hardships such as during the monsoon season because they can only collect pollen during certain temperatures and most certainly not when it rains. If a hive is abandoned then you can take that as a sign that there is something wrong with the hive so the honey is probably no good either.

  29. I take a teaspoon of locally produced honey everyday to assist my body in developing a tolerance to local pollens. This helps ease the effects of seasonal allergies. The theory is that bees produce the honey with pollen native to your area. By taking a teaspoon each day, your body can slowly build a tolerance to the pollen, rather than trying to fight off the pollen during spring and summer when it is being overwhelmed with high pollen counts.
    Does it work? While I still have occasional bad allergy days, they are much milder and far and few between, compared to a time before taking honey, when I would have back allergy weeks!
    It’s not an overnight treatment, it takes months for your body to build it’s tolerance. Start now and enjoy the benefits this spring. The key is it MUST be locally produced honey.

    1. If you still have to treat for allergies even when taking honey, something else is wrong. The most likely culprit is food allergies, and the 2 biggest suspect groups of foods are grains & dairy.

    1. “Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and ‘natural’ stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.”

      I think most of the regular readers here are more likely to be getting honey from those types of places anyway, but this is definitely good to know.

  30. I think if I weren’t a recovering sugar addict, I’d allow raw honey and maple syrup into my kitchen.

    As it is I am terrified that one taste would send me spiraling, right back into the arms of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate caramels.

    1. recovering sugar addict…wow, how did you do it?? i have been trying for the past / #$%^&*( well; since i can remember ;-(

      1. Chantal, have you given up all grains and sugars? That did it for me – and my life previous to that had been centered around my sugar addiction. It only took a couple weeks at most and then I had no desire whatsoever – amazing. Seriously, I was the ultimate addict.

        1. Ditto that. I did a strict 30 days: no sugar, no sugar substitutes, I continued to be careful with whole fruit allowing berries mostly. I told myself I could do anything for 30 days … the first 7 were the hardest then really pretty easy. Now I feel like I have control over when to enjoy a sugary treat instead of controlling me (it’s in the house, I have to have some!).

          I do still have to be careful, though and have ramped up my consumption a time or two since, but once I caught it, I was able to correct again. Good luck – it’s worth it!!

        2. Giving up grains did it for me as well. Once I stopped with the brown rice, no more sugar cravings.

      2. Me too! Even when I gave up grains and sugars, I was addicted to dates. The only way to overcome the addiction is to do at least two weeks, but preferably a month with nothing sweet in your diet, not even fruit. That did it for me. I lost all my cravings. In fact, just the thought of very sweet things now turns me off.

        1. I used to do the same sort of thing – give up one thing and find myself substituting with a healthier version of the same. I love dates, too – with cream cheese especially. Dairy was more of a craving than sugar for me. And, I loved fresh breads and pasta. What I discovered after the initial couple of weeks of primal eating was that I lost desire for both carbs and dairy. Basically, for me primal eating has given me a handle on a range of food intolerances.

      3. As others have said, pretty much cold turkey on everything with a sweet flavor, except for just enough stevia in my coffee to make it bearable. I’m otherwise low-carb and an intermittent faster, so that helped as well. I limited fruits as well, except for low-sugar berries.

        I’ve read that for sugar addicts that they can eventually become like “normal people”, able to have “just one chocolate” sanely, after about a year of going sugar-free. A shorter duration than that, though, is still very risky. 3-4 months is the real danger zone, where you THINK you are in control now, but you can slide back reeeeal easy.

      4. You have to change the programming in order to get lasting, easy results, and “Enjoying Weight Loss” w/Roberta Temes, Ph.D. (hypnosis CDs) did the trick for me. Like someone else wrote, I was the ultimate addict, all my life. Dr. Temes fixed me in the first CD session, and this was years ago. Now I can have treats around the holidays if i wish, and then I’m done, truly done, which is a miracle.

  31. I have found a great source for local honey with the comb. It tastes much better than store bought. I use it in cooking (as a glaze for chicken with garlic and ginger- YUM), in tea when I am sick (or just want to warm up on a chilly day), and, since its local, helps with allergies that my sons get every so often. Good stuff. I often cringe at the “experts” that say sugar is sugar and your body treats it all the same. Will have to look into it as a cleanser, though.

  32. Glad to know it’s overall good for me. But even if it were slightly hazardous, I’d do it to be able to breathe in the summer. Before I found out about raw, local honey for allergy inoculation I couldn’t even mow my lawn or go for walks near grassy fields. Now I might get a slight sniffle at worst, but my eyes and throat don’t swell shut. Just a bite a day from the jar is all it takes. Probably somewhere between a teaspoon and tablespoon.

  33. Yeah i squirt some honey over my plain jane yogurt. Throw in some raisins and it’s heaven! I’ll have to look out for this buckwheat honey now. Thanks for the heads up! 🙂

    1. Buckwheat honey was in the news recently.

      they said that it’s been shown to be more effective for a cough than dextromethorphan.

      1. I don’t find that news surprising. Honey has both decongestant and cough suppressant properties.

    1. Thanks for this info! I use it as a facial cleanser and face mask and it is my alternative to sugar most of the time. My husband is a bee keeper and so I am always interested in any news or advice concerning the application of honey to soothe acne.

  34. It was a 15,000 year-old cave painting, by the way, according to the link.

  35. My brother-in-law is a bee keeper in Northeast Florida, the only region in which Tupelo honey is produced. I have a tremendous sweet tooth and love honey. So I’m happy to see results that honey is in fact better than sugar.

    I’ve also heard local honey good for some allergies. Is that true?

  36. I keep my own bees, but last year was my first season with them so no honey yet. I’m excited for it for allergy treatment, sweetener to eat, beeswax for all kinds of uses, and propolis to make tincture for fighting colds etc.

    We also tap our maple trees but just for fun, we don’t get enough maple syrup to really last us (we boil it down over a turkey fryer burner on the porch).

  37. If you are going to eat honey, eat raw, unpasteurized honey. Pasteurization destroys the beneficial enzymes in the honey.

  38. I use raw honey in treats for my kids (birthdays, special occasions). I love to make custards/clafoutis/puddings with eggs, coconut milk, raw honey, and fruit. It helps them feel like normal kids that get treats.

  39. For medicinal purposes, I prefer Manuka Honey with a high Unique Manuka Factor (UMF).

    For raw honey, I always go for a variety. I like the raw honey made in my area to combat seasonal allergies. It’s dark orange, and full of flavor. I have heard that a few people have gone into anaphylactic shock whose bodies were not ready for the pollens, although very, very rare. I have heard some warn to start small if ever your first time with raw honey. To me, if you can go into shock over raw honey, it’s better to know now than find out later unknowing or not being prepared.

    I love raw Buckwheat and Wildflower Honey as well. We have a local farmer’s market that sells all different types of raw honey from various flowering plants, from all over the world, so I have collected and sampled many.

    One part that I found interesting, and mentioned in the blog, is that not all honey is inherently healthy, depending on where the bees are getting their nectar as bees can fly many miles from their hive. If the flowers are toxic to humans, they will be toxic to humans in the honey. I know from my late father’s bee keeping days that flowers likes the Jessamine is very dangerous to humans. Then many other common plants are not enough to be deadly, but are still mildly toxic including many nightshade vegetable plants like tomatoes & chili peppers and fruit tress like the Apple & Cherry Trees.

    I am also curious how pollution will effect humans, because the bees are moving within it, even effecting their own colonies with the dreaded Colony Collapse syndrome. I suppose their fate is ours, even if we avoid their wild honeys. These days, I avoid all processed and filtered honeys. They might as well be Sham Honey when you lose all those wonderful compounds and qualities about honey.

  40. Someone asked about eating the honeycomb. I keep bees and use our honey in my coffee. If you’re buying “organic” honey with comb, ok, you could eat it. Why, I don’t know. It’s just wax. The wax, though, will hold any chemicals the bees come across while gathering pollen and nectar. That’s why there isn’t any true organic honey produced in this country unless the beekeeper lives more than five miles away from anything and anyone. Wind blows chemicals onto flowers and the bees don’t know or care that the beekeeper is trying to run an organic apiary. I lived in MS for a while and someone gave me some actual sugar cane to try. It was like…chewing wood to get sugar out of it. I view eating beeswax the same way.

  41. When I was about 41 years old, I suffered from seasonal allergies for the first time in my life. I started eating local, raw honey daily and, six years later, have never had a reoccurrence.

    I love honey so much that I started keeping bees myself. The beneficial properties of honey are so numerous; plus, it just tastes damn good!

  42. I use Really Raw Honey. I love the stuff, been eating it for 10 years. check out its the real stuff, unfiltered, unpasteurized, You can get it fermented or not.

  43. I too am interested about the relative values of honey vs both coconut nectar and raw coconut sugar. Both coconut products are supposed to have lower GI and beneficial nutrients. But Honey, for all the reasons pointed out here, particularly when close to a natural source, is as pure a natural substance as one can find. Because of this, data be damned, I want to believe that honey is superior…but I also wonder if there is any data on honey v coconut sweet 🙂

    I’ve also always heard, but do not know if there is data to support this, that natural LOCAL honey can have the effect of reducing pollen related allergies of some types. The notion seems to be that the pollen acts as a type of vaccine if you eat it regularly, thereby exposing yourself to the pollen in small doses. Again not sure if this is real or not, I have never had pollen related allergies…maybe because I eat local natural honey 🙂

    Thanks Mark! Always informative.

  44. We have a good supplier of local honey here, and since I started eating it my hay fever symptoms have almost disappeared. I have it in tea, and make almond flour cookies that rock. Going off sugar is hard for sure, but not impossible. Life is SO much better after you bite the bullet & go for it — and you won’t believe how good fruit tastes!

    1. Kitzie,
      I have been making almond milk and I have a lot of meal in the freezer that I don’t know what to do with. Could you send a link for your recipe? Thanks!

  45. I use honey and coconuat oil as binding agents in making paleo granola. Provides a nice sweetness and allows my diet to stay primal.

  46. Please please your grammar It’s not “Like with Honey” its ‘as with honey”!!

  47. Been using 2-3 tblsps honey in my post-workout shake, along with protein. It’s a great way to replace glycogen and prevent cannibalization of my body’s protein stores. Plus, of course, great taste and it dissolves well.

  48. As a beekeeper and a regular consumer of honey, this post makes me happy. 🙂

  49. I truly believe raw honey to be Primal. I don’t think it advisable if it spikes our blood sugar and only the individual testing the impact on his or her body will be able to determine that. If we are insulin resistant or leptin resistant, we need to check our body’s reaction to any sweet food or diet changes. If we don’t do finger sticks, then we should be aware of body signals, like carb craving, hungry two and a half hours after a meal, irritability (or even panic) with meal delays, and maybe all the way to shaky and jittery before meals. If we are insulin or leptin resistant, then we are not in Primal shape and not ready for that Primal treat of honey, in my opinion.

  50. It’s part of my 20%. I eat it exclusively on the weekends or in replacement of a dessert in the evenings, and never more than a teaspoon or so. I also make sure to buy raw, dark honey. It’s wonderful.

  51. “… the Ache of Paraguay, are honey hunters, with the Ache getting upwards of 10% of their calories from wild honey (and the larvae found in the honeycombs).”

    Did anybody else have images of a certain badger running through their head while reading Mark’s line from above?

  52. Raw honey has been a lifesaver during my switch to eating primally. Even just a tiny spoonful satisfies any dessert cravings. For a Superbowl party this past weekend, I volunteered to bring dessert (and was greated with skepticism from my friends who know my eating habits) — I took dried dates stuffed with a mix of almond butter, raw honey, and a tiny bit shaved dark chocolate. They tasted like chocolate-peanutbutter fudge and were almost gone before the game started. [I know dried fruit is high on the GI, but it was a special occasion and you really only need one or two to feel satisfied :)]

  53. Earlier somebody mentioned about honey being one of the top five sattvic (pure and beneficial) foods according to Ayurveda, and this is correct. However, bear in mind that Ayurveda also says that heating honey turns it into a toxic substance (ama), so always buy the raw stuff. Not sure where this leaves putting it in very hot tea etc, as some say damage is done only when it’s heated to over 108 degrees F. More modern opinions also say that heating it destroys many of the beneficial substances in it too. Anyway, something to consider…

  54. I think when it comes to honey, it’s not about it being detrimental to ones health, but it being high in carbs and calories. If you want to lose weight you should use it sparingly.

  55. Manuka honey’s wound healing properties are astonishing — check out the success stories using manuka-infused bandages to heal MRSA and bad burns. My friend who is a critical care nurse at a hospital said that they may be becoming the wound care antibiotic, anti microbial dressing of choice — in hospitals! What does that tell you?

    I used it to heal a cat bite that antibiotics were not helping with.

  56. Thank you, Mark, for an article that informs, but allows it’s readers to draw their own conclusions.

  57. “After 6 months honey loses almost all antioxidant abilities…”

    I’d not heard this before. Is there a study or other reference you can point us to?

  58. I’ve also switched from treating myself with an ounce of commercial sucrose-sweetened dark chocolate to a homemade concoction of equal parts (roughly) coconut butter, coconut oil, raw cacao powder mixed together (about 1 c. Worth all together) then I add 1 t or less manuka honey, and usually chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, and some cacao nibs, plus a tiny bit of good salt. Spread on some parchment paper on a cookie sheet, score it so it’ll break easily into pieces, and keep it in the fridge. Once it’s solid I wrap the parchment all around it and store it that way.

    It’s amazingly good. I like it barely sweet, but you could use a bit more honey if you want it sweeter. The coconut and coconut butter also contribute sweetness.

    1. This sounds fantastic! I’m going to try it this weekend. Thanks a lot for posting it. 😀

  59. I like to take a shot of local honey during allergy season. The local bees take the pollen that makes me sneeze and then make honey. I find it def helps me during this sneezy season

  60. I’m sooooo Glad to hear that Honey is okay for you , was really hard giving up the Refined sugar … but after understanding what that poison was doing to me, I feel I’m finally figuring out what my Body really needs ! I do take a teaspoon full of honey in my morning Tea … just to satisfy my sweet tooth. 😛

  61. I’ve never been able to tolerate the taste of honey. I wonder whether it has to do with being an allergy sufferer. Anyone else? I’m always surprised to hear that people enjoy the taste of honey.

    1. Have you tried some from a local beekeeper or did you get it at the store? Different flowers produce different flavors. Same hive will produce 2 different flavors in summer and fall.

      1. I’ve eaten it all my life, both mass-produces and locally-produced. I do find that the wildflower tastes better, but cannot get it locally produced.

    2. Have you tried raw honey? I was never a huge fan of regular store-bought honey, but then I tried raw honey…love at first taste!

  62. Thing is, the methods of sourcing mass produced honey (just about anything outside of local, free-bee honey)include feeding bees corn syrup. ?!! Yes, that’s right. So you are what you eat/absorb & if you are ingesting regular honey then you are ingesting corn syrup & all the chemicals bees are exposed to. Honey is a miracle in it’s most sacred state: raw & pesticide/toxin free honey produced by unadulterated pollinators. That’s the healing honey!

  63. I love honey, in warm milk it is just the BEST… And manuka honey is so good for you because the bees feed on the Tea Tree flowers

  64. Yes to honey. It would seem as I continue to research natural alternatives to healing it always goes back to what Mother Nature took time to produce. Honey, cinnamon, tumeric, greens (of course) and more. The less processed the better.

    Give me a dose of that honey. I don’t miss sugar but I’ll every now and then put some in bad coffee if that is all I have at my disposal…and woah I can totally taste a difference. Sometimes you need to do something different to notice something different. And nothing wrong with a sweet tooth. Everything in moderation I say. And great additional information with this thread. Thanks folks!

  65. I have 4 bee hives in my backyard and get my own fresh local raw wild honey!
    Since starting primal i have glanced at them sideways and wondered what im gonna do with all that honey, so im loving this post!
    I have some honey just a couple times per week really, just when i want.
    Bees make great pets! The whole idea of a super organism like a hive acts is fascinating. Plus you can go away for weeks and not worry!!

  66. As with most things, know the farmer. I read that 85% of bee farmers feed the bees HFCS making the honey not much better. Find a good supplier.

    1. Good point. Also ask if they treat their bees with Miticides for treatment of mites too.

  67. Honey! I have it in my tea everyday! I only use a little about an eighth of a teaspoon in a mug but I haven’t been able to let it go. So glad to read this! It is also an antibiotic. Great stuff

  68. I use honey for sweetening, soothing burns, and moisturizing. What can’t it do? It’s like the coconut oil of sweeteners 😀

  69. I use honey in my skin care salon. Honey is a humectant meaning it attracts water. It dehydrates bacteria and kills them. So while the effects of honey are similar to antibiotics, the bacteria will not become resistant to honey–it’s a physiological process they can’t combat. It’s the same effect of putting sugar on strawberries to make strawberry shortcake in our pre-paleo days.

  70. I have just returned from an all day Beekeeping Symposium in Auburn, AL. I learned a lot about honey and beekeeping. Humans depend on bees and their honey-making either directly or indirectly.

    In the Old Testament, God promised the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey. If God created it, I will eat it.

    The state of AL is home to many experts on beekeeping and honey. (See James Tew’s blogsite: thing I learned: Make sure you know that your honey comes from a reputable source, as some beekeepers use homemade pesticides which would not pass a state inspection!

  71. I use raw local wildflower honey to cook with or to make salad dressings. It doesn’t take much and as you said, far superious to sugar.

  72. I use honey and coconut oil to make a concoction for my kids when they have sore throats. They hate honey – so I tell them it is medicine, that they have to take it. LOL. I use a bit of raw honey in herbal tea, for baking in place of recipes that use agave, salad drssings etc. I am actually thinking of getting a couple hives because local honey is $$$$$$.

    Thanks to those of you who gave the face wash tip – I’m going to try it!

  73. Raw honey in moderation.

    For medicinal purposes I would mix 1 tsp honey with 1 tsp turmeric and swallow to cure flu like symptoms.

    1 tsp honey in Mark’s turmeric tea is my definition of heaven.

    As long as it isn’t 8 cups of tea with honey a day, you should be ok.

  74. My wife started keeping bees a couple of years ago, so we always have plenty around and plenty to share. We don’t use much actually, but it’s great in tea at night after dinner when I’m craving something sweet. (Helps) keep me away from a beer!

  75. Oh, I forgot a big use I have for honey…..I’m an Ultra Runner…, now, that is NOT “chronic cardio”; I am slow enough that it counts as “move frequently at a slow pace”…..Anyway I make a mix of coconut oil and little honey as my fuel on long runs. Primarily fat (medium chain tri’s) and a little sweet.

    1. I like the sound of this! i do a little distance (half mari’s) & I do run/walk intervals, so I also think of mine as “move frequently”. I’m gonna mix some of this up for this wknd’s event!

  76. Just in time! I was thinking of concocting my own version of the Honey Stinger protein bar. I love those when I’m running but there a bit too sweet for me! (my sweet tooth has been gradually diminishing – yay!)
    hmmmm, I haven’t tried any of these “designer” honeys yet, might have to!

  77. i started using agave nectar instead of honey because it is lower glycemic.
    But I do occassionally use honey and I buy orange blossom flavored.
    This was a very informative article. I had no idea honey had small amounts of minerals, etc.
    I certainly never even thought about why honey’s come in such a variety of flavors – but now it all makes sense (what the bees feed off of)
    I am passing this article on to my network
    Jaxi 🙂

  78. I only buy raw honey. It’s something that I consider a whole food ( as long as it’s raw and organic ). I’s not man made or artificial in any kinds, so yes it should be considered primal. I use honey in so many different ways, such as for colds, face and hair masks and sweetener, I think if I didn’t have honey to help me with my sweet tooth, then people would have one cranky Russian chick on their hands – honey is a must for everyone ( my personal opinion ).

  79. I am a great believe in the medicinal properties of honey, alas, even a tablespoon of raw organic buckwheat honey gives me acne. So, I don’t eat it. That’s a pity, but I’d rather have clear skin.

  80. Honey skyrockets my blood sugar.

    From a beekeeper:
    “Honey actually contains the same basic sugar units as table sugar. Both contain glucose and fructose. Granulated table sugar, or sucrose, has glucose and fructose hooked together, whereas in honey, fructose and glucose remain in individual units. Fructose is sweeter than glucose, which is one of the reasons fructose is used in so many food products today. However, fructose does not convert to energy as efficiently as glucose. As a result, processed foods containing granulated sugar high in fructose convert to fat stores more easily than honey.

    Caloric content of honey differs from that of table sugar. One teaspoon of table sugar contains 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey has 22 calories. While honey may have more calories, people may actually use less of it, since it is both sweeter and denser than table sugar. This being said, you actually may take in about the same amount of calories that you would with sugar or perhaps even less.”

    If you have either high or low blood sugar honey as well as other sweeteners like maple syrup, molasses, agave, etc. you should avoid them completely

  81. I try to run a marathon every few years (call me crazy) but this year is the first time I’m training for one and eating Paleo. Usually I drink tea unsweetened, but on my long runs, I take a sports bottle of tea with some honey in it to drink. This has been working out pretty well for me, and I haven’t felt totally exhausted after any training run. Is this a good idea? Is there something better out there for Paleo endurance? Thanks

    1. I love coconut water myself, but I only do halves. Maybe you could add honey to yours if you want. Just a thought.

    1. I wouldn’t have expected these researchers to find any evidence. They formulated their hypothesis on a faulty premise. Honey does not work on allergies like a vaccine – that’s a short term gain. They set up their study to be short term.

      Honey works like an allergy desensitization program. These programs can last several years before the full effect may be achieved – and even then its not always 100% effective. If they had continued their study for several years they might have found some evidence.

  82. I bake with almond and coconut flour now and sweeten with honey – but I am also super confused about the truth about baking/heating honey too much. Does anyone have real hard facts about heating honey too high??????? I use coconut syrup also to bake with but would love to know the FACTS about baking with raw honey………

  83. The way I look at it is, “carbs are carbs”. I try to limit myself to 50g per day and if I go beyond that, I put on weight. Eating just all the vegetables I want to consume daily amounts to nearly half the 50, so I look at 18g of carbohydrate per tablespoon of honey as an expensive luxury. The fact that it is possibly “less bad for me” doesn’t change that. Stevia is virtually zero carbs, so if I feel that I must have something sweetened, that’s what I tend to go with.

  84. I have read that if you eat local honey it helps with allergies. I rarely eat sweets as there is a lot of people in my family with diabetes (even two sisters). But i do have a spoonful of honey once in a while and I really feel like it helps me be less allergic to plant pollen. And on the face washing. i am allergic to most soap and all scents. So a long time ago i started using just water and ingesting fish oil, evening primrose oil, flax seed oil, olive oil and natural vitamin E. I am 56 (rarely wear make-up) and people always are shocked because they think i am in my early forties…good thing….my husband is 34 : ) PS…he had horrible skin issues before i started helping him eat more like a primitive man! Thanks everyone for all the good advice here.

  85. Though strongly in the “pro honey” camp, I find myself in the same boat as Kala Nui – honey is an expensive luxury on a ketogenic diet.

    I will sacrifice other carb sources so that I can have a teaspoon of raw, local honey 3 or 4 times a week – only because it helps me with local pollen allergies. The fact that it tastes great in herbal tea is a bonus.

    Personal biases aside, I feel that Mark made a strong case for raw honey as a pro-primal food. And, it was pleasant to note that he did so without disrespect, dismissal….or any of those other D words. Plus, who can resist a little harmless Pooh Hunny Pot humor :-).

    Here’s what I take away from this article:

    1. The prehistorical record shows that humans evolved as healthy honey eaters.

    2. Raw honey promotes a good lipid profile, lower body weight, and greater satiety – all features or goals of a primal food plan.

    3. Raw honey has many beneficial bioactive properties that support wellness, including but not limited to reduction of carcinogens in cooked meats.

    4. Raw honey can support the transition from a high carb/high sugar diet to a low carb, primal diet.

    Other pro-primal uses of honey have been pointed out in the comments.

    The exceptions to the generalities above – making raw honey not so good for some people, some of the time – have also been covered well by the comments here.

  86. So far everything Mark Sisson has said about nutrition has checked out.

    Therefore, as someone who feels he cannot do without sweetener occasionally, and has been resorting to the use of honey despite its high cost, the confirmation that it is basically okay comes as great news!

    Thanks Mark!

  87. I do love honey and only use it occasionally – it always makes me giggle when I tell people what honey really is . . . . Regurgetated plant semen. Haha!

  88. I use a bit of raw wildflower honey in tea from time to time. Because I’ve stopped consuming sugary foods, the raw honey seems to be REALLY sweet, so I use less of it.

  89. I dont eat it but got a jar of local raw honey from a bee keeper last year. I suffer spring allergies and mix one tablespoon with warm water to flush my sinuses with a netty pot. Burns slightly at first but if I do this once a week it literally wipes out my allergies! I’ve tried everything in the past and this is the only thing I’ve found effective come April in Alabama when everything’s coated in yellow pollen.

  90. I work at a farm stand in Ventura County, CA and we sell alot of honey from a local producer (raw and unfiltered). The most popular flavors? Avocado and Eucalyptus-people swear by it for their allergies. Both of those flavors are extremely dark and robust. Me, I love honey and would not consider giving it up. And I think stevia tastes as bad as Splenda- can’t stand it!!

  91. I am not a honey eater, but i think it is a good sweetener for those who can tolerate it. I am fructose intolerant so really have to moderate my sugar intake otherwise i get a very upset belly! Instead I use natural organic stevia or maple syrup. It may not be 100% primal but it works for me. And life is meant to be enjoyed….desserts and sweets can be a nice luxury to eat every once in a while 🙂

  92. Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties is often touted as a plus, but doesn’t also kill of the good bacteria?

  93. Make sure you get organic, local honey – it tastes better that way.

  94. I first read about raw honey as a highly nutritious medicinal food in a Juliette De Bairacle-Levy herbal manual. She was a vegetarian but centered on raw foods — especially raw milk. She warned repeatedly that pasteurization ruined the foods.

  95. Raw buckwheat honey is a godsend. It’s rich, has depth, smells and tastes beautiful.

    I’m sure we’ll be studying it one day the way we study the antioxidant properties of red wine.

  96. I 1000% agree with Ella: buckwheat honey and full-fat Greek yogurt is the ULTIMATE in sweetness! Best! Dessert! EVAH! (And this is coming from a chocolate fanatic)

    Yes, RAW honey is definitely Primal/Paleo.

  97. White sugar is just sucrose, which is just fructose and glucose.

    No, it isn’t, unlike the simple sugars in the physical mixture high-fructose corn syrup, say. White sugar would have to be a physical mixture to be just fructose and glucose, but it has to be chemically broken down (and water added) by digestion to get those. It’s a (slightly) more complex sugar than fructose and glucose, so it needs that digestion to get the simpler sugars that get used in the blood, which gives it a (slightly) higher glycaemic index than either fructose or glucose or a mixture of them. The difference isn’t much, but it is real and it does make a difference. What is more, sugar tastes significantly sweeter than either of the simpler sugars it breaks down into, so less is needed than if it were a physical mixture.

    Entire colonies of honey bees thrive on the stuff [honey].

    No, they don’t, they need pollen as well (for protein). Drones or worker bees that only get honey can function perfectly well, just using it as fuel, but that is because their biological machinery is already in place. Without pollen the queens can’t lay eggs and the larvae can’t grow, so the colonies die off as soon as the current batch of worker bees wears out. You can switch a colony’s entire stock of honey for sugar syrup with no ill effects, so honey and sugar are entirely comparable.

    [Honey is] clearly superior to refined sugar, and the extent of the damage we normally see from sugar intake doesn’t seem to occur with honey.

    Although the study cited compared various things with honey, including sugar, this article only listed the comparisons between honey and glucose formulations – not sugar. So absolutely nothing here shows that honey is “clearly superior to refined sugar, and the extent of the damage we normally see from sugar intake doesn’t seem to occur with honey”, only that those apply to the comparisons with glucose formulations.

    Basically, sugar is perfectly good for quick energy boosts like those you might need after climbing trees, it is a perfectly adequate substitute for honey for bees, and nothing in this article shows that honey in general is any better than sugar for people. It so happens that some honeys really are better than white sugar when they have healthy varietal components – although unhealthy varietal components can even make honey toxic, particularly when pesticides get involved – but all this article has brought out is that honey in general is better than the simple sugars, not that it is better than white sugar.

  98. Every morning a coup of tea of chamomile and thyme and a spoon of honey to reduce/ decrease inflammation from the previous day and heal inside out my body after a good night sleep. My trick!

    Would appreciate any comments, feedback and suggestions.


  99. I found out all honey is raw in Bulgaria, if you buy it outside a supermarket. We’re still too uncivilized to know you are not supposed to get it directly from hive to jar.

    Some of the more medicinal varieties are forest honey (made of little drops of sap on forest leaves- very dark and delicious) and chestnut honey, which is bitter, but full of active ingredients.

  100. When you really crave honey you could make yourself a traditional russian treat: pickled cucumbers with honey and smetana. Those of you who haven’t tried I tell you, it is delicious!

  101. What about Silan (date honey)? Does anyone know anything about that?

  102. I try to avoid fructose like the plague. Fructose is a poison, no matter where you mix it with. Like every other carby foodstuff: all the good things in honey can be found elsewhere- without the nasty sugar attached.

  103. My family loves coleslaw, I make it once a week. Dressing is homemade coconut oil mayo ( sometimes with evoo, too) & honey! I buy local honey and maple syrup, Yeah Michigan!

  104. That video with the guy climbing the tree is truly awesome. I can’t imagine ever climbing that high (afraid of heights), not to mention all the bees 😮

  105. Interesting details about honey, it’s good to know.But I don’t agree with this article because honey is just glucose(and fructose in lower concentration) with small amounts of vitamins,minerals and amino-acids. So if you even if you want to see the positive effects on health you need to eat almost a bucket per day.But that’s crazy,right?I’m not against honey because I take a teaspoon blended with 4-5 egg yolks and butter right after my workout/sprint routine.And one more interesting thing that I didn’t see it in this article.Real/natural honey cristallizes after a few days, even after 1-2 weeks.If it doesn’t,then is just glucose syrup/HFCS.

  106. My father started keeping bees after he retired. My mom liked to plant interesting “bee crops” and they sold their honey to a local health food store. Daddy and Mama both died last year, and I cherish the 2 jars of their honey, with Mama’s hand-printed labels. I’m not much of a sweet-eater, but every once in a while, when I’m really missing them, I’ll take half a teaspoon full of their “family honey” — honey with chunks of comb packed in — and feel a sunny-sweet happiness. Daddy referred to his bees as “his girls” and could, in emergencies, work around the hives without a suit. They seemed to sense that he was there to help.

    1. Thank you for sharing this touching family story :-). I can just imagine your parents smiling.

      Its means so much when children appreciate what parents do for the family, even its something they do out of a personal interest in the activity.

      One of my sons is a chef. He recently asked me to collaborate with him on creating a family cook book. I have family recipes going back several generations and crossing many regional /national cuisines.

      I had thought recently that no one in the family would care to have these recipes when I died – and even considered discarding them during a recent stint of de-cluttering/simplifying. Now I am so glad that I kept them, even if some of them are not primal adaptable.

      I happily agreed to collaborate with him – but I also mentioned that I wanted equitable time given to low carb/primal recipes that I might develop as that was our part of the family’s current tradition. He agreed. He does love the proteins. I would love to see him develop the primal approach as part of his own cuisine – and maybe this cookbook project can promote that notion. Hopeful.

  107. I am a veterinarian and use honey for wound treatments with great success. It is amazing for large wounds that cannot be closed and need to heal over time. Honey is a natural antibiotic because it has such a high osmolality that bacteria cannot grow in it. The sugars – and probably other beneficial substances as well – nourish the tissue and encourage growth and healing. If is that good on the outside of an animal, it must be awesome on the inside of it!

  108. I just know that when I eat raw local honey at the end of summer I have no allergy symptoms at all come fall/winter and next spring.

  109. As a beekeeper I eat honey alot. I agree honey is a food by any definition. Thanks for this article I learned some things. I gathered together health benefits of honey and put it into a pamphlet for my nutritional therapy certification project. One more thing, is that beekeeper are know to live long lives! And it does not have the effect in the stomach if eaten within an hour before bed, maybe with tea, it does help with sleep and feeds the brain.

  110. You can’t do this without giving us a post on pure maple syrup! 🙂

  111. Depends.

    Honey is primal if we eat it in the same amounts and as often as people ate it 30,000 years ago, and if the bees are pollinating the same wide variety of wild flowers that they did back then. I’m guessing most humans would have been fortunate to enjoy honey once or twice a month.

  112. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence about honey and seasonal allergies, and I’m not saying it doesn’t work. But plants either have wind-born pollen or pollen that must be spread by bees/bats/whatever. The pollen (or derivatives thereof) collected by bees is what would be in honey, while the wind-born type would contribute to allergies. So the pollen eaten in honey and that contributing to allergies would be from totally different plants. Anybody know how this would confer protection from seasonal allergies?

    1. That’s a good question – but, IMO, oversimplified statement of the case.

      Most pollen bearing plants are cross- pollinated by some sort of organism. Bees are only one of those organisms, though.

      Wind born pollens end up all over cross pollinated plants, so bees also could carry some of these pollens back to the hive. For example, anyone living in pine forest areas in the US SE knows how everything gets a yellow coat of pine pollen in the spring.

      Pine pollen, btw, is NOT allergenic. The grains are too big to trigger an allergic reaction. Subjectively, what happens is that other small pollens – like oak or maple – that do cause allergies have an overlapping pollen period with pine. When people see the yellow pollen and have allergy issues, they make that connection/assumption.

      Anyway, the best way to settle this question is to do a controlled study. And, I do mean controlled. The honey would have to be analyzed for actual pollen counts, the participants would need to be sequestered in an allergen free environment 24/7 for a long period, and so on. Not practical but maybe doable if there is enough funding available.

      Another issue is that allergies demonstrate generalize inflammation as well as specific allergic reactions. Reducing one set of allergies can reduce the over all inflammatory state – thus reducing allergic reactions across the board. One approach to treating air born/inhalant allergies is to focus on removing foods that cause allergies or intolerances.

      So, if honey is effective for directly reducing allergies to some cross pollinated plants, it might also help reduce allergies to wind born pollens indirectly.

      1. Just from my experience with my raw honey, eaten before bed has helped alot of children with their allergies. However I do suggest nasal breathing which would be the Buteyko Breathing Method. The dandelion for instance will be blooming shortly, the bees love it and it can be airborne. Like you said the honey from my wild bees is always different and therefore each jar will effect the allergies eventually reducing much of the symptoms along with nose breathing, it can eliminate them. I also make mead and have some raspberry mead ready to bottle.

  113. What about agave? Any similar “good” characteristics of honey?

  114. More medical information on honey.

    J Periodontol. 2012 Feb 6. [Epub ahead of print]

    A Comparative Evaluation of the Anti-Bacterial Efficacy of Honey, In Vitro and Anti-Plaque Efficacy in a 4 Day Plaque Regrowth Model In Vivo – Preliminary Results.

    S A, S S, Malgi V, Setlur KP, R S, Setty S, Thakur S.

    Senior Lecturer. Email: [email protected] .


    Background: Honey has a potent broad-spectrum antibacterial action which may make it suitable for “anti-infective” treatment of periodontal disease. Aim: 1) To evaluate the anti bacterial efficacy of honey against oral bacteria and compare the same with 0.2% chlorhexidine 2) Compare anti-plaque efficacy in vivo with chlorhexidine. Material and Methods: The study was conducted in two parts: an invitro part wherein the inhibitory effects of three test agents, 0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate, honey mouthwash and saline, against 6 oral bacteria at concentrations of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 micrograms per millliter were tested in duplicate. The MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) was set as the lowest concentration of the agent that completely inhibited the growth of the test species. The in vivo part consisted of a double blind parallel clinical trial based on a 4 day plaque regrowth model. Sixty six volunteers aged 20-24 years participated in the study and the plaque scores were compared at baseline and at the end of 4 days. Kruskal Wallis test was used for significance and Mann Whitney U test was used for pairwise comparison of the groups. The mean plaque scores were 1.77±0.86, 1.64±0.90, 3.27±0.83 for groups 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Results: The honey mouthrinse effectively inhibited the 6 tested microorganisms. The chlorhexidine gluconate rinse had the lowest MICs in comparison with honey and saline rinses, for all test species examined. The in vivo results revealed that plaque formation was inhibited/ reduced by chlorhexidine and honey rinses. Conclusion: Honey has antibacterial action against tested oral microorganisms and also has anti-plaque action.

    Microbiology. 2012 Jan 31. [Epub ahead of print]

    Manuka honey inhibits the development of Streptococcus pyogenes biofilms and causes reduced expression of two fibronectin binding proteins.

    Maddocks SE, Lopez MS, Rowlands RS, Cooper RA.

    Cardiff Metropolitan University.


    Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus; GAS) is always of clinical significance in wounds where it can initiate infection, destroy skin grafts and persist as a biofilm. Manuka honey has broad spectrum antimicrobial activity and its use in the clinical setting is beginning to gain acceptance with the continuing emergence of antibiotic resistance and the inadequacy of established systemic therapies; novel inhibitors may affect clinical practice. In this study, the effect of manuka honey on S. pyogenes (M28) was investigated in vitro with planktonic and biofilm cultures using MIC, MBC, microscopy and aggregation efficiency. Bactericidal effects were found in both planktonic cultures and biofilms, although higher concentrations of manuka honey were needed to inhibit biofilms. Abrogation of adherence and intercellular aggregation was observed. Manuka honey permeated 24 h established biofilms of S. pyogenes, resulting in significant cell death and dissociation of cells from the biofilm. Sublethal concentrations of manuka honey effectively prevented the binding of S. pyogenes to the human tissue protein fibronectin, but did not inhibit binding to fibrinogen. The observed inhibition of fibronectin binding confirmed by a reduction in the expression of genes encoding two major fibronectin-binding streptococcal surface proteins, Sof and SfbI. These findings indicate that manuka honey has potential in the topical treatment of wounds containing S. pyogenes


    Med Sci Monit. 2010 Nov;16(11):CS138-42.

    Application of manuka honey and GENADYNE A4 negative pressure wound therapy system in a 55-year-old woman with extensive phlegmonous and necrotic lesions in the abdominal integuments and lumbar region after traumatic rupture of the colon.

    Rudzka-Nowak A, ?uczywek P, Gajos MJ, Piechota M.

    Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Therapy, Military Medical Academy University Hospital in Lodz, Lodz, Poland.



    Antibiotic resistance of bacteria is on the rise and thus, the discovery of alternative therapeutic agents is urgently needed. Honey possesses good therapeutic potential, including wound healing properties and antimicrobial activity.


    The authors report on the case of a 55-year-old woman with extensive phlegmonous and necrotic lesions of the abdominal integuments and the lumbar area following traumatic colonic rupture, treated with Manuka honey wound dressings and the GENADYNE A4 negative pressure wound healing system.


    The application of the Manuka honey and the GENADYNE A4 negative pressure wound healing system in treating phlegmonous lesions of the abdominal integuments after rupture of the colon brought good effects, ultimately enabling skin autografting on the wound site and complete wound healing.

  115. One day I got up with the infected throat and could not get a breath without coughing. It was that obvious feeling that somebody liked your environment down there. I sucked on two teaspoons of very conventional honey. It did magic: I was free from itching and discomfort in seconds.

  116. I have started using Stevia extract as a sugar substitute in recipes and in coffee. It comes from the Stevia plant and its leaves have the sweet taste that is 1000 times sweeter than sugar -but no calories.
    What are your thoughts on Stevia?

  117. I haven’t read all the comments. Someone may have posted this link already. If so, I apologize.

    If I remember correctly, this guy comes from West Africa, somewhere around the equator.

  118. I don’t agree with you on this one. Sure, honey might be primal and paleo, but it sure is a pain in the ass with all that fructose – visceral fat, bad teeth and besides that stomach problems, candida and so on… aaand although it is not the same as sugar, being natural and unrefined it contains small amounts of micro nutrients. Yes, it is a natural sweetener but that is all the benefits stops. There is an entire folklore about the healing powers of honey and that is why many abuse it and many give it to children in high amounts. Not good.

  119. I’m particularly impressed with honey’s ability to sterilize wounds and skin in general.


  120. Remember to buy only raw, non-pasteurized honey. Otherwise, you’ll get only a different kind of sugar, and you’ll miss all the healthy compounds you can find in raw honey.

  121. “Entire colonies of honey bees thrive on the stuff. It’s food by any definition.”

    Somehow I think ants would also live just fine on plain table sugar.. I suppose by this definition, that’s also food.

  122. What is sold as honey is not always real honey! My beekeeper friend sent me this. The article lists the brands that were real honey, and not contaminated.

    According to this Food Safety News article most large brands of honey have been illegally “ultra filtrated” removing the pollen and making it impossible to determine the origin. This process is used to hide adulterated honey from China.

    The Chinese honey is contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous and can even be fatal. Chinese honey is also often diluted with high fructose corn syrup and thirteen other illegal sweeteners.

    Here’s the article:

  123. If you need your coffee or tea, and you cant do without sugar in both, then honey would be a great substitute to sugar.

  124. my friend lets his 11 year old son swallow spoonfulls of honey as a snack because it is “good for the heart”. He is a lean and mean kid, probably 4 or 6% body fat. What would you say to the parent?

  125. HI All, Havent read all the posts but have something that may be of interest, My wife works in a foods shop over hear in England and they sell New Zealand produced Manuka Honey, if you google Manuka honey you’ll get lots of hype about antibiotic properties, I was a scientific sceptic at first but she brought some home one day. Now I’m hooked, it has activity levels of the antibiotic nature the higher the level the better, I have used it to sweeten Nettle Tea, one teaspoon per drink and I feel so much better, gut health is improved, less Winter Illness (which I used to loose upto 12 lbs every December) and tastes good too, winner all round, can be used for all the normal honey uses and on burns, cuts grazes like an ointment. may be worth you checking it out. Ross

  126. I read that people with seasonal allergies could consume local honey with the same pollens as their allergy to help lessen the effects of the allergy.

    Has anyone tried this or know how to do this?

  127. My mum who is a nutritionist has always told me that the active enzymes in honey are destroyed above 60 degrees C, so if you put it in hot tea, you get just sweetness and flavour. Better to eat it off the spoon for health benefits.

    I used to live in New Zealand and there people use manuka honey, honey derived from the plant known as “tea tree” outside NZ, for everything from toast to major wound care. It tastes amazing, and has even more amazing health benefits, from antiviral to antifungal and everything in between. I hear it kills cancer cells in the petri dish. Science isn’t even sure why or how. Anyway, it also tastes great, I heartily recommend it!

  128. the honey we eat must be raw and unheated!regullar honey is just sugar…no nutrients…please! emphasis must be placed on quality of foods!!!

  129. I put honey in my coffee as a hang-over remedy. Days when I also feel down and feel a lack of energy I put honey in my coffee.

  130. Try and buy honey that is crystalized or crystalizes quickly(dont get confused with creamed). The more crystals the higher the ratio of glucose to fructose. Some honeys can be quite high in fructose more than 60%.

  131. Damn, you take a long time to answer a simple question! That said, I enjoy your site, blog, whatever it is.

  132. Haven’t had time to slog through all the replies but I would have though raw honey, in the comb, would have been quite a treat for primal man. All he would have to do is dip his hands into a hole in a tree and pull it out, if the bees didn’t object too strongly. Straight from the comb it is as unprocessed and pure as Nature intended, which is what ‘primal’ is, isn’t it? Manuka honey is lovely, the higher the active ingredients, the darker the colour and the stronger the taste and it does wonders for the skin. I definitely would consider honey primal.

  133. This article isn’t that new and I don’t feel like going through the comments to see if anyone has mentioned this or not, nor do I have actual evidence, but it’s interesting to note that my mother’s dietician from the hospital said that studies had shown that honey, despite the high fructose content, did not spike your blood sugar the way other sugars do. Apparently it’s ok for diabetics to have a very small amount, and it’s considered a superfood. I noticed when I was going off sugar that while even a piece of fruit would ramp up my sugar cravings, honey did not. I still limit myself to a very small amount a day though, and eat less and less sweet stuff. Not primal yet, but might inch towards it.

  134. I am on the 21 day program. I use 1 teaspoon of honey with my whole milk in my morning cup of coffee. Is this off the program for the 21 days?

  135. I find Mark’s articles very informative, but I also enjoy and learn quite a bit extra by reading these comments. Thank you!

  136. doesnt matter, its good…most foods are, stop worrying so much. all of this stress if far worse for you than a lil sugar lmao either way some day you will become old, you will die, and you will eventually be forgotten

  137. i think this is a great way to lose weight.. i read the comments and people seem to try it and works for them, i will try and get bk to u 🙂

  138. I tend to overanalyze things. We all have heard, release energy too fast and it get’s stored in the body as fat. I have seen lots of answers but few explanations why for the following: does anyone know of a good article explaining why honey is a more gradual form of energy? Honey has two monosaccharaides, fructose and glucose. Table sugar has the disaccharide compound, sucrose, made up of fructose and glucose. Sucrose isn’t broken down until it hits the small intestines (although some articles said it was broken down when it hits the acidic stomach). Table sugar is said to result into a higher blood glucose level and resulting insulin spike, whereas honey is supposed to be a more gradual form of energy resulting in less of a spike. Does anyone have a scientific explanation for the glucose surge in the blood stream of table sugar vs the gradual release of glucose touted by the honey supporters? Basically, if honey is absorbed in the body faster than table sugar, is easier to digest than table sugar, then why is honey considered a more gradual form of energy and result in lower glucose levels and lower insulin spikes? So I had posted that question in similar blogs. I had no responses; and I think I may have answered my own question. Here is what I found: one thing I just read is, that fructose can delay gastric emptying. Therefore, since honey’s fructose (along with it’s glucose molecule) is in its free monosaccharide form in the stomach, perhaps honey, and whatever else is in the stomach, is released slower and more gradual resulting in a more gradual release of energy. It may be actually wrong, for people to say, honey is absorbed quicker and digested easier. You have to talk about where you’re at in the GI tract. Since table sugar (sucrose) isn’t broken down until it hits the small intestine, that might explain it’s rapid release of energy and the resulting insulin spike. Any feedback is welcome.

  139. It’s good information to know. I learned that it matters what kind of honey you use. Raw honey from your local bee farmer can also help with seasonal allergies and assist in avoiding medication that makes me drowsy. I like knowing that I can use it to sweeten my coffee instead of sugar. I find it hard to enjoy life without my cup of sweet comfort in the morning. If honey can help make it less bad for me then I will certainly use it in my primal life.

  140. Hi there. I’ve started out on this whole primal lifestyle and after only 2 days I was really missing my sweetened coffee. I switched to shots of unsweetened espresso in the morning but it wasn’t hitting the spot – I find unsweetened coffee just too bitter. So today instead of caving in and having my normal mug of instant coffee white two teaspoons of white sugar and skimmed milk I had a lovely espresso with a half teaspoon of manuka honey. It certainly hit the spot. I’ve switched to unsweetened tea during the rest of the day. The next thing to try is bulletproof coffee!

  141. When I’m in need for a treat every 2 months or so, I take 2 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter) and 2 tbsp of honey, I mix them together and enjoy. So delicious 😀

  142. I am relatively new to a Paleo diet. I am active as I work construction and I skateboard (for the past 18 years). I also exercise with resistance, jump rope and enjoy bike rides and walks. I found that my body runs very efficient on a high fat low carb diet and I don’t have much of a need for protein, at least not the crazy amount many sources say to eat. Time to time though when I “refeed” my glucose stores I find raw local honey works extremely well. My muscles feel stronger and my brain is focused.

  143. So. I’m clearly really late for this party but I wanted to share my horror at being able to look through the books of a local beekeeper here in Oz. As we’ve been having a drought (or snow, or something) they have been feeding their bees sugar! Kilos and kilos of white sugar. Yuck. And I asked them why they are buying unleaded petrol when their cars run on diesel – it’s to coat/soak the wood of the bee boxes so they don’t rot. This is a local-to-me small operator in country Oz. I’m not sure I’d trust honey unless I ‘made’ it myself now!

  144. I had about a tablespoon of honey this morning. I felt guilty and instantly came home to google it to find Marks daily apple’s take on it. I felt a little guilty but i suppose once in a blue moon isnt going to kill you????.
    I have been on the primal diet for about 2 months. Prior to the diet my sugar was starting to spike and i was rapidly becoming a diebetic. I kid you not, within a week my glucose levels have stabilized at a healthy range and my blood pressure came down with it. Hope to be off all medications in the near future.

  145. I use honey every day but in moderation. My breakfast when I get to work every day is this.
    1 cup of unflavored greek yogurt.
    1 table spoon of Cinnamon
    1 small handful of walnuts
    Some shredded/organic/raw coconut

    Mix and eat

  146. the available glucose in honey must also switch off keto fuel too? Despite all the other minimal “benefits” the major “nutrient” is that it is STILL rapidly available source ofdigestible sugars.and keeps u in glucose craving mode? …..

  147. “After that climb, I imagine his muscle and liver glycogen stores were rather depleted and the honey was a welcome fuel source.” I love the way you get your points across Mark. Not that I am in any way put off by the more erudite styles of people like Kresser, Jaminet, and Guyenet, but it’s truly refreshing to find so much intelligence and practical guidance delivered with such humor and light-heartedness. Reading your blog snaps me out of my orthorexic stupor and reminds me that eating and living well doesn’t have to be such a heavy and convoluted task.