Honey Brain Benefits: Is Honey Good For Your Brain?

honeycomb
Is honey good for your brain? And if it is, what are some of the honey’s brain benefits? In short, yes, honey is fantastic for your brain health. It has antioxidants that protect your brain cells, boost blood flow to the hippocampus, and improve serotonin levels – helping you feel better and fall asleep faster. Ready to learn more? Read on!

For thousands of years, people have treated honey as sacred food – using it to achieve youthful and vibrant health.

When you consume honey, you get a full spectrum of nutrients, including the brain-nurturing polyphenols. These are known to protect our neurons from damage.

Three key honey brain benefits are:

  • Improved sleep
  • Elevated mood
  • Better memory

Unlike table sugar which causes inflammation, honey has more nutrients and delivers unique cognitive and mental benefits. (8, 9, 10, 11)

Let’s go ahead and explore all of the honey’s effects on brain health, including memory, mood, sleep, and more.

Is Honey Good For Your Brain?

Honey belongs among the best brain foods.

This liquid gold, as it’s often called, contains natural antioxidants that bees collect from various plants.

The potent mix of antioxidants in honey protects your brain cells from inflammation, supports your mood, and improves blood flow to the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain critical for your memory. (3, 4)

If you’re afraid of honey due to its high carbohydrate content, here are some good news:

Since it contains half fructose-half glucose, honey doesn’t spike your blood sugar like refined carbs. Instead, it provides you with a sustained source of energy, nutrients, and antioxidants. (1, 10, 11)

That said, calories are still calories, and it’s easy to overindulge in honey. In which case it will probably do you more harm than good – just like most foods.

But consume it responsibly and you’ll enjoy many of its brain health benefits.


honey brain benefits beehive

Honey Brain Benefits

Improves Memory

The sweet nectar in honey is packed with polyphenols.

These are a group of plant antioxidants which protect your brain from cellular damage and memory loss.

A study from 2011 tested the effects of tualang honey on postmenopausal women who suffered from hormone-related cognitive decline. (2)

The researchers split these women into two groups:

  • The first group took 1 spoonful (20g) of tualang honey daily
  • The second group took just hormone pills
After 16 weeks, the experts found that women who took 20g of honey a day were more likely to have better short-term memory than those who only took hormone medication.

See, honey helps your body absorb calcium. (3)

This is important because your brain needs calcium for processing thoughts, firing signals between neurons, and making decisions.

Experts suggest that the poor intake of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, increase the chances of dementia. (3)

And honey appears to be an effective insurance policy against it.

Protects Neurons & Reduces Inflammation

As you saw, honey has some of the strongest antioxidants in nature.

And besides improving your memory, these polyphenols will help you:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Protect the brain from the ravages of free radicals and oxidative stress
  • Improve blood flow to the brain

An animal study found that consuming honey can protect the brain from lead exposure. (7)

What’s more, a clinical review suggests that raw honey helps your brain fight inflammation in the hippocampus.

This is the part of the brain involved in pleasure, cognition, and memory.

Helps Fight Cognitive Decline

As we saw, honey has plenty of natural antioxidants that are beneficial to your brain.

But it gets even better.

According to a clinical review, long-term supplementation of honey significantly decreases lipid peroxidation in the brain. (4)

Lipid peroxidation is the degradation of lipids in your cell membranes, which damages the neuron. The root cause of this is oxidative stress.

Now, in addition to providing external antioxidants, honey also boosts your body’s native antioxidant network. (4)

This includes:

  • Superoxide dismutase (SOD)
  • Glutathione reductase

Thanks to these effects, honey helps your brain defend itself from cell destruction, which plays a massive role in cognitive decline.

The study review concluded (4):

“Honey decreased the number of degenerated neuronal cells in the hippocampal CA1 region, a region that is known to be highly susceptible to oxidative insult. Theoretically, the cumulative macromolecular destruction by free radicals due to an imbalance between the prooxidant and antioxidant defense systems is implicated in aging.”

honey and cinnamon for the brain

Helps You Sleep

Honey is one of the best natural sleep aids.

It contains several essential amino acids, including tryptophan.

After you eat honey, your insulin levels rise. This opens the door for tryptophan to enter the brain. (3)

In the brain, tryptophan converts to serotonin, which then converts to melatonin, the sleep hormone.

As a result, you’ll find it easier to fall and stay asleep.

Enhances Mood

Stronger memory and better sleep aren’t the only honey brain benefits.

Honey also supports your mood, you see.

Since it raises your serotonin levels in the brain, honey is able to regulate how you feel. Which can reduce the occurrence of depression and anxiety. (5, 6)

To cite a study review (4) :

“Raw honey possesses nootropic effects, such as memory-enhancing effects, as well as neuropharmacological activities, such as anxiolytic, antinociceptive, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant activities.”


Honey and Serotonin

As you saw above, honey can be helpful for supporting a balanced mood. But this goes beyond just honey and serotonin. It’s true that honey will help to absorb L-Tryptophan which will indirectly raise your serotonin levels, but there’s more to it.

Honey also provides your brain cells with glucose. Glucose or blood sugar is fuel for your cells, including those in the brain. Your brain thrives on a steady supply of this fuel, you’ll notice it in your mental sharpness, mood, and ability to think fast.


bee collecting pollen

Honey Brain Benefits FAQ

Here we have some of your commonly asked questions regarding honey and the brain:

Is honey good for your nerves?

Honey helps the brain produce more serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates your mood. As a result, honey helps relax your nerves. (3)

Is honey good for memory loss?

Honey can help against memory loss. It contains polyphenols which are natural antioxidants. They boost your brain blood flow, reduce cell death, and diminish inflammation. (4)

Can honey cause anxiety?

Honey shouldn’t cause anxiety, if anything, it’s the opposite. Honey helps with the absorption of l-tryptophan in the brain, which leads to higher serotonin levels. As a result, honey can help reduce anxiety. (3, 4)

Is honey good for stress?

Honey is an excellent food choice for stress. It raises insulin levels which enables your brain to produce more of the feel-good neurotransmitters. And it helps you sleep too. (3, 4)


Wrapping Up

Honey is a brain food in full sense of the word.

Not only does it curb stress, it also improves your sleep, mood, and memory.

Don’t be afraid to consume it in moderation; it won’t make you gain weight.

Raw honey has a relatively low glycemic index, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar as refined carbs do.

It will, instead, provide you with stable energy and antioxidants for peak brain function.

References
  1. Natural Honey Lowers Plasma Glucose, C-Reactive Protein, Homocysteine, and Blood Lipids in Healthy, Diabetic, and Hyperlipidemic Subjects: Comparison with Dextrose and Sucrose. (source)
  2. Improvement in immediate memory after 16 weeks of tualang honey (Agro Mas) supplement in healthy postmenopausal women. (source)
  3. Liquid Gold: 7 Health Benefits Of Honey That Could Heal Your Whole Body. (source)
  4. Neurological Effects of Honey: Current and Future Prospects. (source)
  5. Anxiety is associated with reduced central serotonin transporter availability in unmedicated patients with unipolar major depression: a [11C]DASB PET study. (source)
  6. The role of 5-HT receptors in depression. (source)
  7. Honey prevents neurobehavioural deficit and oxidative stress induced by lead acetate exposure in male wistar rats- a preliminary study. (source)
  8. Sugar-sweetened soda consumption and risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women. (source)
  9. Sucrose counteracts the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil in adipose tissue and increases obesity development in mice. (source)
  10. Honey and Diabetes: The Importance of Natural Simple Sugars in Diet for Preventing and Treating Different Type of Diabetes. (source)
  11. Differential effects of honey, sucrose, and fructose on blood sugar levels. (source)

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About Valentino Muza 15 Articles
Valentino is a nutritionist, author, and health coach. He's been researching nutrition and brain health for over 5 years, and has created Valentino's Naturals to help people maximize their mental performance. When he isn't writing, Valentino loves to travel around Europe, spend time in nature, and research topics within his field of expertise. More...

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