Honey is sweet, healthy, and nutritious. Everyone young or old has benefitted from honey in one way or another. But aren’t sweet things bad for health? Also, how safe is it to have honey when you are carrying a life inside you? MomJunction helps you understand whether or not honey is safe during pregnancy and its associated risks and benefits. Read on!
Is Honey Safe To Eat During Pregnancy?
Honey is safe during pregnancy provided it is pasteurized. Also, it should come from a government certified authority.
One cause of concern about raw honey is that it can cause botulism (1). However, it only affects babies less than a year old as their digestive system is immature. The gastrointestinal system in adults contains bacteria that prevents botulinum toxin, and it is rare for a pregnant woman to get colonization botulism (2).
[ Read: Nutritional Foods During Pregnancy ]
Benefits Of Honey During Pregnancy
Honey benefits in several ways during pregnancy as it is rich in sugars such as fructose and glucose, besides the nutrients.
- Boosts immune system: Honey’s antibacterial and antioxidant properties boost body’s immunity. It also treats cuts, wounds, minor burns, and heartburn by neutralizing stomach acids (4).
- Relieves insomnia: Honey’s hypnotic action helps overcome insomnia. Drinking milk mixed with a spoon of honey before bedtime helps you have an undisturbed sleep (5).
- Relieves cold and cough: The antiviral properties of honey inhibit the viral activity in the body preventing cold (6) Honey is an effective cough suppressant. However, there is no scientific evidence for or against its use to fight cough (7).
- Eases a sore throat: The anti-inflammatory properties of honey soothe throat irritation. Add honey to ginger or lemon tea, and sip it warm to relieve a sore throat (8).
- Cures ulcers: Studies have shown that regular consumption of honey decreases the growth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, responsible for causing ulcers (9).
- Improves scalp health: The antibacterial nature of honey doesn’t just sooth a sore throat, but works effectively at getting rid of dandruff and itchy scalp.Dilute some honey in warm water and apply to the scalp to treat such hair conditions (10).
- Reduces allergies: Though not thoroughly conclusive, honey helps in controlling seasonal allergies as local honey has pollens in it. On regular consumption, it immunes the body towards pollen and seasonal allergies (11).
[ Read: Bee Pollen During Pregnancy ]
Side Effects Of Honey During Pregnancy
Excessive consumption of honey can lead to certain side effects as below.
- Aggravates insulin sensitivity: Honey raises the blood sugar levels and worsens the insulin resistance as more than 25 grams of fructose a day is unsafe during pregnancy.
- Causes cramps: Honey leads to stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Excessive consumption of honey makes your body acidic and affects the gastrointestinal tract thus slowing down digestion.
- Affects dental health: The high levels of sugar in honey cause dental cavities and tooth erosion.
- Weight gain: The rich calories present in honey add to your weight.
How Much Honey Is Safe During Pregnancy?
Three to five tablespoons (180 to 200 calories) of honey a day is safe as one tablespoon contains approximately 60 calories. Calories from simple sugars should not exceed more than 10% of the total calorie requirement during pregnancy (which is around 1800 to 2400 calories per day) (12).
Precautions To Take While Eating Honey
There are some ways in which honey should not be taken:
- Do not add honey in hot water or beverages as it eliminates its healthy enzymes. You may add it to lukewarm water.
- Do not add honey in foods rich in vitamins C and D as the minerals present in honey will nullify the benefits of the vitamins.
- Avoid mixing honey to bean curd as it can reverse the benefits and lead to indigestion (13).
Tips For Choosing Honey
If the quality of honey is good, consumption should not be an issue, even to pregnant women.
- Double check if the honey is pasteurized and almost all brands sell pasteurized honey.
- Choose trusted, organic honey as it undergoes minimal processing.
If you are unsure of which honey to eat, discuss with your health practitioner. She can be the best person to advise you.
[ Read: Dates During Pregnancy ]
Can You Take Manuka Honey When Pregnant?
Manuka honey is safe to take unless you are allergic to it. It is natural and healthy, and there is also no evidence that manuka is unsafe for consumption during pregnancy. However, you should check with your doctor before using it.
Pregnancy is one time when you must be careful about everything you eat. The simple mantra to follow is to eat all sugars in moderation and ensure that your diet is full of veggies, lean organic proteins, good fats and low glycemic fruits. While honey is safe, it is imperative that you do not have it in forms which may adversely affect you.
Tell us if you had honey during your pregnancy, in the comments section below.
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