Honey Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

honey nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Honey is a staple in the kitchens of cooks around the world. Some people prefer its unique taste over other sweeteners and, used in moderation, it can be a healthy alternative to sugar. Honey may offer some health benefits, but since it is typically eaten in such small quantities, it's unlikely that you'll get a major health boost from swapping sugar with honey. 

There are more than 300 different varieties of honey. Clover honey is the most popular type in the U.S., but you may also see eucalyptus honey, orange blossom honey, and even avocado honey on store shelves. 

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one tablespoon of honey.

  • Calories: 64
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 17g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 17g
  • Protein: 0g


All of the calories in honey come from carbohydrates, specifically sugar. The glycemic index of honey depends on the type that you buy, but sources estimate that is between 45 and 64. As a basis for comparison, the glycemic index of table sugar is 65.


There is no fat in honey. 


There are only trace amounts of protein in honey, but it is unlikely to contribute to your daily protein requirements. You would need to eat a lot of honey to accumulate much protein from it, and since it is high in sugar, this is not recommended.


You won't gain significant vitamins or minerals when you eat honey, primarily because the sweetener is consumed in very small amounts. Vitamins and minerals in honey—which may include B vitamins as well as calcium, copper, iron, zinc, and others—are mainly derived from the soil and nectar‐producing plants, so the source of your honey will determine which minerals you gain when you eat it. In general, darker honey is likely to provide more beneficial minerals than pale honey.

Health Benefits

Researchers have investigated some of the potential health benefits of honey with some positive results. However, it can be difficult to apply the findings to our daily use of honey because the honey you buy in the store may be different than the honey used in the scientific study which revealed a health benefit.

In a study published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, researchers note the quality of honey and its mineral content are determined by where it is grown and how it is processed. This plays a significant role in the benefits it provides.

Researchers also note that it would be difficult to gain benefits due to the small amount of honey that is usually consumed, stating that "it would be advisable for adults to take honey in larger quantities (70 to 95 g/d) to obtain the complete desired nutritional benefits." That translates to 1/3 cup to just under a cup of honey per day to gain benefits. That's a lot of honey.

Research suggests honey can help calm a cough. A review of six studies treating cough in children, published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found a spoonful of honey suppresses a cough as well as dextromethorphan—the cough suppressant found in Robitussin DM—and better than Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or no treatment. The research also found honey may provide longer relief than Albuterol (salbutamol). 

Limited studies have shown that honey may help to improve bone growth, may benefit people suffering from anemia, and may provide antioxidant benefits. Honey may also help treat asthma. Honey applied topically to wounds may promote healing. 

Honey is not guaranteed to provide health benefits, so if you don't enjoy honey, you shouldn't use it. However, if you enjoy the taste of honey it can be a good sweetener choice.

Common Questions

Is honey healthier than table sugar?

Because honey may provide small amounts of health-promoting minerals, it may be said that honey is healthier than sugar. Some research has shown that honey may be better for people with diabetes. But both sweeteners are forms of sugar.

However, due to honey's distinct flavor, a smaller portion may deliver as much satisfaction as a larger amount of white sugar, so it may be easier to eat less honey than it is to eat less sugar. If you enjoy the taste of honey, try darker varieties, which have a stronger flavor than lighter honey, and use less of it.

What are the different types of honey?

Honey may come from different flowers (such as clover, blueberry, buckwheat, etc). The honey you buy may also be raw or pasteurized.

  • Raw honey comes directly from the beehive. Raw honey is not processed, heated or pasteurized.
  • Pasteurized honey is filtered and processed to create a clear-looking product that is easier to package and pour.

Most honey experts agree that processing and pasteurization may eliminate the trace minerals contained in honey and therefore eliminate the benefits of consuming it.

What is the proper method for tasting honey?

According to the National Honey Board, you should place about a half teaspoon on your tongue and first take in the aroma. Then let the honey melt on the front of your tongue. As it melts, the honey will spread to the back and sides of the tongue to enhance the tasting experience. Eating unsalted crackers and sipping room temperature water between each tasting will help neutralize your palette.

What's the best way to store honey?

Liquid honey is easier to use when it hasn't been chilled, so most people store honey in a cool cabinet. Creamed honey (spreadable honey) may be kept in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Honey is a versatile sweetener so there are countless ways to use it in the kitchen. However, some cooks struggle when they cook with honey because it can be messy. If you buy a jar of honey (as opposed to a squeeze bottle) spooning honey onto food can be a challenge. Savvy experts recommend that you spray your spoon or measuring cup with cooking spray first so that the honey slides off with no mess and no fuss.

When swapping out sugar for honey in recipes, it's important to remember that honey has a stronger flavor and higher moisture content than sugar. Baking experts recommend using 1/2 to 3/4 cup of honey for each cup of sugar in the recipe, and also reducing the liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of sugar replaced. In addition, if the recipe does not already include baking soda, add 1/4 tsp. for each cup of sugar replaced. You should also lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees F and watch for doneness. 

If you're ready to use honey at meal time or happy hour, try any of these recipes.

Keep in mind that honey can also be used outside of the kitchen. Many beauty experts recommend using honey for healthier skin and nails. Some bathers add it to their tub for a relaxing and moisturizing soak. Others make a conditioner out of honey and water for healthy, shiny hair. And if you don't mind the stickiness of honey on your skin, some people blend honey with lemon and use the mixture as a facial treatment.

Allergies and Interactions

Babies under the age of one should not consume honey or products made with honey, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

If you are on a low-sugar or low-carbohydrate diet for medical purposes, you should avoid honey as it is almost pure sugar (carbohydrates).

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.