From ancient times to now, the reputation of honey is excellent both in China and abroad. Ancient Greeks believed that honey was a gift from God. In modern times, honey is regarded as a healthy substitute for sugar. It is a natural medicine for throat pain, bacterial infections and even can improve fertility. But is honey really amazing as people say?
1. Honey has higher calorie.
High-sugar diets raise risks for heart disease, obesity and diabetes, but we do love our sweets, so health experts have tried to suggest alternatives, and honey has been foremost among them.
Honey is actually sweeter than sugar is, which means, in theory at least, that you could enhance flavor equally with a smaller quantity of honey.
But honey actually has a higher calorie count. It may have more minerals, which looks better on a label but, in reality, these are such trace amounts that they don't offer any real advantages.
So, while cutting sugar intake is a good idea, stocking up on raw, organic honey instead might not be.
2. Honey antibacterial effect is limited.
Honey's reputation as a medicine is not wholly unfounded.
Some honey does indeed have antibacterial properties. One byproduct of enzymes in honey is hydrogen peroxide, a powerful germ killer.
Plus, honey's texture and consistency are good for keeping wounds clean, and bad for bugs that might want to infect them.
Honey is moist and its gooey consistency means it can easily spread over and stay over wounds while keeping the tissue from becoming dry and fragile.
The sticky substance is also adept at breaking up biofilms that allow bacteria to accumulate and multiply. It is particularly well-known for fighting bacteria like staph, salmonella, E. Coli and certain bacteria that can infect the gut and cause ulcers.
However, scientists can only say this for sure about Makuna and Malaysian Tualang honey. We don't know yet whether local home grown honey has the same potency - or safety.
3. Honey has limited efficacy in relieving sore throat.
A hot cup of tea with some honey stirred in certainly sounds like it would make you feel better. But it's difficult to say for sure that it will.
When you have a cold, contact with warm water (from tea) may help to bust up phlegm that blocks your airways. But some suspect the real secret to the soothing qualities of a cuppa is in the honey.
There are studies that suggest that honey does work as well or better than cough suppressant drugs like Robitussin.
Most of these, however were considered by the academic world to be widely misinterpreted by the media.
One of the findings that seems to have given the honey trend some additional legs came from a study that said there was 'no difference,' statistically speaking, between honey and one particular cough suppressant.
Some academics have argued that the cough suppressant in question, dextromethorphan, is not particularly effective to begin with, and the study reported 'no difference' in effectiveness, meaning they could simply both work poorly for treating sore throats.
As is the case for its benefits for wound treatment, the moisture and viscosity of honey may be somewhat soothing to irritated tissue.
4. Honey is not "liquid gold".
A few years ago, honey seemed to suddenly become a hot topic of scientific research.
Studies were linking the natural sweetener to benefits for leading health concerns, including infertility and dementia, and spurring health fanatics to label honey 'liquid gold.'
One of these, conducted in 2011, compared menopausal women taking a honey 'supplement' (it was just honey) to those taking estrogen and others taking nothing.
Menopause comes with an estrogen decline that often coincides with impaired memory for women.
The honey-taking women seemed to have slightly better memories, and thus local, organic (and expensive) honey got a new identity as 'brain food'.
It's true that honey contains antioxidants which have protective effects against cell damage that occurs as we age.
But after that study's publication in 2011, Dr Natalie Rasgon of the Stanford School of Medicine, who studies estrogen and cognition in women, was deeply dubious in an interview with Reuters.
'This is not a scientifically rigorous study,' she said.
'I can’t understand how they can compare honey to estrogen. Honey is not even a supplement.'
As for fertility, studies assert a range of possible reasons and ways honey could help - but the main thing they have in common is their small size.