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Cardiologist Explains Health Benefits of Honey

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Health Benefits of Honey

In a world where cardiovascular disease is a pervasive health threat, a sweet solution has emerged from the depths of ancient remedies: honey. This golden, natural sweetener has been celebrated for its medicinal properties since ancient times.

Modern research now corroborates what our ancestors discovered thousands of years ago. The health benefits of honey are extensive, even helping protect our cardiovascular system. So, honey isn’t just a sweet treat. It’s also a potential ally for our heart health and overall well-being.

Honey as Medicine

For centuries, honey has been treasured both as a delightful culinary indulgence and a powerful medicinal remedy. Since the days of Hippocrates, the renowned ancient Greek physician considered the father of medicine, honey has been revered for its exceptional healing properties. This golden elixir, derived from flower nectar and meticulously concentrated by honey bees, boasts a complex chemical composition that varies based on its botanical source.

Stone Age paintings dating back 8000 years depict humans utilizing honey, highlighting its enduring presence in our history. Today, honey has undergone extensive laboratory and clinical investigations, solidifying its position in modern medicine.

Honey is a natural sweetener containing primarily carbohydrates and water. Over 180 compounds, including amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, live in honey. Moreover, raw honey contains probiotic bacteria including lactobacilli, essential to maintaining a healthy gut.

Honey has the unique ability to fight off bacteria, fungi, and viruses thanks to its natural healing compounds. Rich in antioxidants, honey has become a valuable ally in combating various diseases. It’s been used to support digestive health, reduce inflammation, and even treat some cancers. While honey benefits all aspects of health, its impact on the cardiovascular system is particularly impressive.

Honey’s Sweet Influence on the Heart

Honey, nature’s golden elixir, brings an impressive medley of heart-friendly benefits to the table. Far more than just a sweetener, honey can wield a positive influence on our cardiovascular health. Unveiling the health benefits of honey uncovers a variety of ways it can bolster heart health. Here, we delve into nine compelling ways that incorporating honey into your diet can be a sweet deal for your heart:

Lowers blood pressure

Honey, the golden gift from our buzzing friends, appears to do more than sweeten our tea. Research tells us that honey can help tackle high blood pressure, that stealthy foe of our arteries.

Animal studies show us how honey, after a heart injury, steps up to the plate, working to restore healthy blood pressures. It’s like a healing balm, nudging the heart towards recovery and lending support to the vasomotor function – the very rhythm of our arteries.

Moving from the lab to our everyday lives, the proof is in the honey pot. A recent study demonstrated how women incorporating honey into their daily diet had lower blood pressure than those who only occasionally indulged.

With honey, it’s not about seeking a quick fix for high blood pressure, but integrating it into a balanced diet as a potential ally for your heart.

Improves cholesterol levels

Most doctors prescribe statins to patients experiencing high cholesterol. Unfortunately, these drugs fail to reduce heart attacks and deaths. Instead, they come with many unwanted side effects. If only physicians knew to prescribe honey instead. Recent research affirms that honey also plays a significant role in shaping heart health, specifically in optimizing lipid profiles.

In 2023, a comprehensive meta-analysis synthesized data from 18 controlled trials, comprising a sizable group of 1,105 participants. This research was no cursory skim, but a deep dive into the honey pot of health benefits.

The findings? Raw honey flexes its muscle in the face of our blood lipids. Notably, honey consumption resulted in reduced levels of the bad guys – total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and fasting triglycerides.

But it didn’t stop at just trimming the villains. Honey also boosted the good guy – high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It seems raw honey serves a dual role, decreasing the harmful and increasing the beneficial lipids.

Decreases blood glucose

Concerns regarding sugar intake, particularly among individuals with diabetes, often lead to the avoidance of honey. However, unlike other sweeteners, honey exhibits unique properties that can actually lower blood glucose levels and enhance insulin sensitivity.

Multiple studies consistently highlight the glycemic advantages of honey, showcasing its ability to reduce fasting blood glucose levels. In a substantial study out of China, 18,000 individuals took center stage, and their dietary habits were put under the microscope. What shone through in this grand-scale analysis was the relationship between honey and prediabetes.

The study revealed that those who regularly included honey in their diet exhibited a lower prevalence of prediabetes. But how does this work? It’s believed that honey’s role lies in its potential to promote better glycemic control.

Reduces inflammation

High cholesterol often takes the blame when it comes to heart disease. However, inflammation is the actual problem. In fact, inflammation is now known to be a significant driver of cardiovascular disease, marking it as an important focus for prevention.

Honey, often revered for its sweetness, is also making waves for its inflammation-tackling capabilities. Regular honey intake is showing promise in the health arena, particularly in its potential to reduce inflammation markers like C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is our body’s distress signal, released by the liver during inflammation. Elevated levels of this protein serve as an alarm bell for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Interestingly, honey may play the role of a natural pacifier within our bodies. It potentially works to modulate these inflammatory markers, thereby possibly curbing heart disease risk.

Reduces oxidative stress

Honey possesses impressive antioxidant properties that help combat oxidative stress in the body, which occurs when there is an imbalance between harmful free radicals and antioxidants. Studies have demonstrated that honey can effectively counteract oxidative stress by enhancing antioxidant activity.

A standout aspect of honey’s protective role involves its interaction with harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS). Interestingly, honey demonstrates its ability to put a lid on ROS production in immune cells when they cross paths with bovine thrombin. By halting the buildup of these cellular ruffians, honey extends its protective umbrella over cardiovascular health.

But honey doesn’t stop there. It flexes its antioxidant muscle by boosting key antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx). Simultaneously, it helps to restore vital antioxidants like glutathione, vitamin C, and α-tocopherol. In doing so, it strengthens our biological barricades against inflammation and oxidative harm. So, as you savor the sweetness of honey, know that you’re also tapping into its impressive antioxidant capabilities.

Protects and repairs the heart

Honey, particularly its compound chrysin, has been found to protect against heart damage. Studies have shown that chrysin reverses the harmful effects of heart attacks and diabetes-related heart injuries, improving heart function and reducing inflammation.

Reduces plaque in the arteries 

Scientific exploration has unmasked an intriguing component of honey: trehalose. This natural sugar, nestled within the golden elixir, shows an impressive talent for bolstering our immune system’s housekeeping abilities, particularly in clearing out cellular waste. This feature is especially significant in managing atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

Experiments using mice injected with trehalose revealed a substantial shrinkage in plaque size, transforming this humble sugar into a potential anti-atherosclerosis agent. This finding illuminates the potential of honey as more than a pantry staple, but possibly a therapeutic ally in the battle against atherosclerosis.

Helps keep heart rhythm in check

Honey is a natural treasury of compounds, one of which is pinocembrin. This particular compound has caught the eye of researchers for its potential role in heart health, specifically in maintaining a steady heartbeat.

Experimental studies have shed light on pinocembrin’s intriguing abilities. It appears that this honey-derived compound can smooth out heart rate variability and dial down the risk of rhythm irregularities, essentially playing the role of a natural metronome for our hearts.

While it’s important to note that more research is necessary to fully understand the nuances of pinocembrin’s impact, these preliminary findings suggest that honey might be more than a sweetener—it could also be a partner in supporting a harmonious heart rhythm.

Improves gut health

Honey is a vital source of nourishment for our gut health. Its prebiotic properties and antimicrobial activity act like a green thumb, fostering the growth and diversity of beneficial bacteria in our microbiome. This support is essential for robust digestion, efficient nutrient absorption, and overall health harmony.

But how does gut health connect with heart health? A healthy gut can influence metabolism, inflammation, and immune function, all key factors for a healthy heart.

By fostering a balanced gut, honey can help regulate cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar—essential for maintaining heart health. Moreover, a well-nourished gut can reduce chronic inflammation, a known risk factor for heart disease.

So next time you enjoy honey, remember, you’re not just indulging your sweet tooth but potentially supporting your heart and gut health too.

It’s Not All the Same, Honey

Not all honey is created equal, and as a consumer, it’s important to be discerning when choosing this golden syrup. Honey is the third most adulterated food globally, with some dishonest practices involving dilution with cheaper substitutes like sugarcane or corn syrup. As such, consumers must use caution when purchasing honey.

The honey on supermarket shelves is often highly processed to improve its appearance and shelf life. Pasteurization, a common process, subjects the honey to high temperatures, causing it to lose valuable vitamins and minerals. Additionally, most processed honey undergoes extensive filtration, which removes the pollen known for its heart-healthy properties. Sadly, much of the honey available in the United States falls short of meeting the standards of pure honey.

Choosing raw and unfiltered honey ensures you’re tapping into the highest quality. This untouched-by-industry sweetener retains all of its natural benefits. From its rich array of vitamins and minerals to vital enzymes, the health benefits of raw honey remain intact, offering a sweet source of natural goodness.

Buying local honey can also offer potential health benefits, as exposure to local pollen may help alleviate seasonal allergies. Moreover, buying local ensures you know precisely how the honey was made and processed. By making informed choices, you can savor the benefits of honey while supporting your overall well-being.

Sweeten Sensibly

Raw honey truly stands out as a remarkable superfood and a superior alternative to processed sugar. Its natural composition offers a myriad of health benefits. However, it’s important to remember that, like any good thing, moderation is essential.

In our quest to embrace the wonders of honey, we can draw inspiration from our Paleolithic ancestors. They recognized the value of honey but used it sparingly, savoring its delightful sweetness as a unique addition to their daily lives. By following their example, we can enjoy the goodness of honey while maintaining a balanced approach to our overall dietary habits.

Indulging in the distinct flavors of raw honey and embracing its health benefits can be a delightful addition to our diet. Whether we enjoy its rich sweetness over a bowl of vibrant berries, blend it into a comforting cup of tea, or use it as a natural sweetener in our homemade creations, honey brings a touch of natural goodness that satisfies both our taste buds and our well-being.

While honey offers numerous benefits, it’s crucial to remember that it is still a form of sugar. Being mindful of portion sizes and using honey in moderation ensures we can relish its wonders without overindulging. By embracing the wisdom of our ancestors and finding the right balance, we can enjoy the amazing qualities of raw honey as a wholesome part of our well-rounded lifestyle.

Next Steps

If you’re eager to incorporate the heart-healthy benefits of honey into your diet, selecting a high-quality product is paramount. To help you on your journey, we have three exceptional honey recommendations to elevate your culinary experiences while nourishing your cardiovascular health.

Kevala Organic Raw Oaxaca Honey: Uncut and unspoiled, this raw honey is a joy for true connoisseurs. Free from preservatives, gluten, dairy, and GMO ingredients, this top-tier wildflower honey hails straight from the heart of the Mexican rainforest. Its deep flavor profiles a nutritional dynamo, brimming with an array of antioxidants and vitamins. Harvested on-site to prioritize bee well-being, Kevala honey undergoes no heat treatment or processing before bottling.

Monofloral Manuka Honey: From hive to home, Manuka Doctor ensures complete traceability of every batch of their honey. Their multifloral Manuka Honey is harvested in New Zealand, packed, and tested to meet the country’s government requirements. With 100% pure New Zealand honey, their products are non-GMO, raw, and boast an impressive MGO 825+ rating.

Pure Southern Honey (with comb): Indulge in the finest quality honey straight from the bees. 100% raw, unfiltered, and unheated honey preserves all the vitamins, enzymes, and nutrients that make honey truly special. Sourced from various native floral sources, including Gallberry, Tupelo, Blackgum, and Palmetto flowers, it offers a unique and flavorful profile. To make it even more delightful, a submerged honeycomb accompanies this honey, adding extra sweetness to every jar.

To explore these exceptional honey brands and embark on your heart-healthy honey journey, please visit our Amazon store here. Remember, selecting high-quality honey will ensure you enjoy the maximum cardiovascular benefits and flavors while supporting responsible beekeeping practices.

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Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

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With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

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About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

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Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

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About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

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Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

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Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

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Health Coaching

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Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

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Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.