Although honey contains only traces of iron, consuming a tbsp of honey a day may help increase iron levels by 20%!
Health benefits of iron
Iron is an essential trace element. We have to get it from food. The human body can’t synthesize it.
Iron is vital for good health, as it’s a key component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein of red blood cells that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Furthermore, iron supports muscle metabolism and healthy connective tissue.
Unfortunately, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. In fact, iron deficiency may cause side effects like gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, and low body temperature. Most noteworthy, iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the risk of premature delivery, and miscarriage.
How much iron do we need a day?
The human body recycles iron. But, we lose a certain amount of iron every day, which we have to replenish.
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg and 8 mg for women and men, respectively.
Women require much higher doses of iron, as they lose high amounts during the menstruation period. Furthermore, pregnant women require 27 mg of iron a day! Hence, many women may benefit from taking iron supplements. On the other hand, women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron.
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In any case, you should always consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplement. Getting high dosages of iron for a long time may cause adverse effects.
Is honey rich in iron?
It’s a common belief that honey is rich in iron. Actually, honey contains small amounts of iron. A tbsp contains only 0.084 mg of iron, or about 0.5% of the daily required dose! Hence, we can’t depend on honey to meet the recommended doses.
Effects of daily consumption of honey on iron blood levels!
But, honey seems to have a huge effect on blood levels of iron. According to a study, serum iron levels increased by 20% when people consumed honey during the day!
Most noteworthy, honey significantly increased the antioxidant status of the body. For instance, although honey has no vitamin A or vitamin C, it increased blood vitamin C concentration by 47% and beta-carotene by 3%!
So, consuming a tbsp of honey a day may help increase iron levels!
Foods rich in iron
Foods rich in iron are meat, poultry, fish, whole cereals, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables.
White beans with 44% DV (Daily Value) per serving, dark chocolate (19% DV), lentils (17% DV), spinach (17%), tofu (17% DV) kidney beans (11%), chickpeas (11% DV), and potatoes (11% DV) are only a few common foods particularly rich in iron!
Moreover, the easiest way to boost your daily iron intake is by drinking certain fruit juices!
Health benefits of honey
Honey has potent antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s particularly high in phenolic and flavonoid compounds. So, it is believed to play a beneficial role in certain inflammatory diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, arthritis, as well as neurodegenerative diseases.[5,6,7,8]
Furthermore, honey may be beneficial for gastrointestinal tract disorders and gut microbiota, due to its probiotic properties! Healthy gut microbiome has been linked to increased metabolism and a better immune system that fights pathogens more effectively.
So, honey is considered a functional food with therapeutic and preventive properties.
What’s the best time to consume honey?
Honey is almost 100% sugar. A tbsp has about 17g of sugars and 64 calories!
Hence, the best time to consume honey is in the morning. The body stores most sugar as muscle glycogen. In contrast, the body stores more sugar as body fat when we consume it late at night.
Additionally, antioxidants in honey may be more beneficial throughout the day. They protect us from oxidative stress, due to air pollution, sunlight, or smoking.