The sweet, delicious honey is a delightful sensory experience. Being a great substitute for refined sugar, it also has its beneficial qualities intact. It contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and other enzymes. It holds thousands of years of history as being used in food and medicine. But how far is honey safe during pregnancy? What are the benefits of honey during pregnancy? Here is everything you need to know to assure yourself if the honey is one of the foods to eat or one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy.
Table of Contents:
Honey - What is it?
The golden coloured, sweet and viscous liquid made using the nectar from flowers by the honeybees is called “Honey”. It is classified based on colours. The clear, golden amber honey fetches high rate in the market than the darker varieties. The taste or flavor of the honey also varies depending upon the type of flower from which the nectar was harvested.
Honey can be raw or in pasteurized forms. Raw honey is obtained directly from the hives and it could contain impurities like yeast, wax and pollen whereas the pasteurized form is processed and without any impurities.
Properties of Honey:
According to USDA (United States of Agriculture), each tablespoon of honey contains the following:
17.3 g of sugars
0 g of fibre
0 g of fat
The sugars in the honey are monosaccharides such as glucose and fructose.
Honey also contains minerals (such as iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chloride, potassium and magnesium) which are beneficial to maintain the human health.
According to BeeSource, the typical honey profile will be as follows:
38.2% of Fructose
31.3% of Glucose
7.1% of Maltose
17.2% of Water
1.5% if Higher Sugars
0.2% of Ash
3.2% of other substances.
The slightly acidic pH level of honey prevents the microbial growth whereas the antioxidants present in the honey could clean up free radicals that could cause the disease.
Honey During Pregnancy - Is It Safe?
Pregnancy is a period when even the free souls become overly conscious about what they eat with the intention of not harming the baby. It becomes utmost important to know about what to eat during pregnancy and whether the food you eat is safe for the baby. And Honey is not an exception. Does it fall under the category of the must-haves during pregnancy or the foods to avoid during pregnancy? Here is the answer.
Honey is known for its antimicrobial properties and that is due to hydrogen peroxide present in the honey. It doesn’t let the microbial organisms to cultivate and grow. Along with this, when the honey is consumed it combats with the infections and boosts your immunity. Hence, consuming honey during pregnancy is as safe as it can be unless your doctor told you not to.
Although the benefits of honey during pregnancy is various, there is one cause of concern about consuming honey during pregnancy - Botulism.
Botulism is a rarely caused serious illness caused by Clostridia spores (a type of harmful bacteria). The spores might be present in the honey if the honey is contaminated. But your natural immune system has all the ability to fight the infection. If you consume this kind of contaminated honey during pregnancy, there is absolutely no risk of these spores harming your baby. The toxins or spores that have entered your system can’t get through the placenta. Placenta shields your baby from the potential infection that could be caused by any kind of antigens.
How Much Honey During Pregnancy Is Recommended?
Everything in moderation is good for your health and so is the honey.
Honey is high in sugars (around 70%). As mentioned before, it contains fructose, glucose, maltose. During pregnancy, the calorie intake from simple sugars such as fructose, glucose should not exceed 10% of the daily calorie requirement (around 1800 to 2400 calories). So for pregnant women, the safe way to consume honey during pregnancy is keeping count of a number of tablespoons of honey she consumes every day. Generally, for pregnant women, the amount of honey consumption recommended is two to five tablespoons so that calorie count from this source remains 180 to 200 calories.
Benefits of Honey During Pregnancy:
Honey falls in the category of what to eat during pregnancy due to its several health benefits. Here are the details of such benefits of honey during pregnancy.
Boosts immunity system: The antioxidants, antibacterial property and the nutritional value of the honey boosts the immunity system and thereby helps in fighting the infections that could occur in future. Especially for pregnant women, this is essential as the pregnancy period is a delicate phase and could get attached by microorganisms easily.
One of the very common issues women suffer with, during pregnancy, is cold and flu due to low immunity. But thanks to the benefits of honey during pregnancy. Its antiviral and immunity boosting properties could make the cold and flu short-lived. As a preventive measure, honey could be consumed along with tea or with lukewarm water.
A sore throat and cough:
Honey is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming honey during pregnancy could have a soothing effect on your throat and also ease up a cough.
Stress relieving properties of honey could help ward off insomnia. Pregnant women often experience stress and insomnia. The consumption of honey during pregnancy could help relieve that stress and have a sound sleep.
Acidity, gastritis, heartburn is common during pregnancy. It could lead to stomach ulcer as well. The regular consumption of honey during pregnancy is proved to beneficial in faster healing of these stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori infections.
Regular consumption of honey could build the resistance to the allergies over the time. It helps in building immunity against antigens that can enter your system during pregnancy.
The antibacterial and antifungal properties help in treating open wounds and scalp. The application of honey topically with warm water at the dandruff site, it could ease the itchy scalp and work on removing dandruff.
The healing properties of honey vary with the type of honey. The honey can be used to treat wounds and other ailments.
[Read more about it here: Are You Aware of These Awesome Benefits of Honey During Pregnancy?]
[Read: 12 Health Benefits of Honey]
Possible Side Effects Of Honey during Pregnancy
Although consuming honey during pregnancy is safe, just like any other foods, there could be exceptions in this too.
Gestational diabetes is having a high sugar level only during pregnancy. It comes back to normal after the childbirth. Some women might develop this condition during pregnancy and need to keep a constant check on their blood sugar levels. In such cases, it could be dangerous and it will be one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy. The same rule applies to patients suffering from type-2 diabetes.
Although honey allergy is rare, consuming honey during pregnancy in excess could cause to stomach cramps, diarrhoea and stomach upsets in some women. To avoid such issues, it is always advised to consume a pure form of honey.
Honey is a great substitute for sugar and has greater health benefits if consumed during pregnancy. But just like any other foods, consumption of honey during pregnancy could have side-effects too. Although it is definitely an add-on to your pregnancy diet, it is best to seek the advice of your doctor if you are unsure.