Honey is a natural sweetener rich with health benefits such as relieving coughs and improving seasonal allergies.

“Honey is a sweet liquid that bees produce using nectar from flowers. People throughout the world have hailed the health benefits of honey for thousands of years,” per Medical News Today. “Modern science is finding evidence to support many of the historical uses of honey.”

While it does tout health benefits, honey is a natural sugar so it is important to consume it in moderation.

Here are five health benefits of honey and a look at the difference between raw and pasteurized honey.

Raw vs. pasteurized honey

Raw honey is not pasteurized — a process that heats the honey up — so it retains more nutrients such as antioxidants and vitamins that provide honey with more health benefits.

“Raw honey comes straight from the honeycomb. The beekeeper will usually just filter the honey to remove small bits of debris, including pollen, beeswax, and parts of dead bees,” per Medical News Today.

When honey is pasteurized, it is heated to roughly 160 degrees, this process gives the honey a more clear and smooth appearance, increases shelf-life and makes it crystalize slower, per Verywell Health. During pasteurization, the heat causes some natural nutrients found in honey to be lost.

Both forms of honey are good for you, but raw honey is linked to more benefits, per Verywell Health.

1. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Honey is loaded with nutrients including antioxidants, polyphenols, magnesium, potassium and anti-inflammatory properties.

“In addition to its use as a natural sweetener, honey is used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent. People commonly use honey orally to treat coughs and topically to treat burns and promote wound healing,” per the Mayo Clinic.

Due to honey’s natural source of antioxidants, a review from the publication Pharmacognosy Research suggests that regular consumption may be protective for cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous system health.

2. Can aid in healing wounds and burns

Manuka honey can be used topically to treat cuts and sores. A scientific review from the publication of Pharmacognosy Research found that honey is useful in wound healing because it has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

“Honey has been used for wound healing for centuries, and certain types of honey, like medical-grade honey, have shown potential in wound management due to their antimicrobial properties and ability to promote healing,” Jordan Hill, lead registered dietitian for Top Nutrition Coaching, told the AARP.

A study from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that honey heals partial thickness burns roughly four to five days quicker than conventional dressings. Researchers noted that honey was also effective in healing wounds infected after surgery.

3. May improve heart health

Honey could be beneficial in preventing heart disease and improving overall heart health. A review from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reports that regular consumption of honey may lower blood pressure, regulate your heartbeat, improve healthy fat levels and prevent death of healthy cells.

An observational study from the journal Clinical and Experimental Hypertension with more than 4,500 women found that light to moderate honey consumption was associated with lower risk of high blood pressure.

Additionally, honey contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds which protect against atherosclerosis — a build up of fats and cholesterol on the artery walls, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients and Atherosclerosis.

4. Helps relieve coughs

Honey has been used for centuries as a remedy for cough. Modern research shows that honey may be similarly effective as over-the-counter drugs in relieving coughs. A small study found that children with non-specific acute cough who drank a milk and wildflower honey mixture experienced a similar improvement in symptoms as those taking over-the-counter medications.

“Drinking tea or warm lemon water mixed with honey is a time-honored way to soothe a sore throat. But honey alone may be an effective cough suppressant, too,” per the Mayo Clinic.

In a study from the the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, young children suffering from respiratory tract infections were given 2 tablespoons of honey before bed. The study found that the honey reduced coughing and improved sleep.

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Researchers noted that honey was an equally effective cough suppressant as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cough syrups.

5. May improve seasonal allergies

Eating local, raw honey may improve seasonal allergies. Bees eat nectar and gather pollen from local vegetation, some of which makes it into the honey. If these pollens are consumed in small doses, the body could build a tolerance and allergies can improve.

“If you ingest the pollens that bring you discomfort, you build up an immunity against them,” Andew Cote, head beekeeper at Andrew’s Honey, told CNBC News.

A study from the Annals of Saudi Medicine found that adults who ate local honey daily in addition to taking allergy medication experienced less allergy symptoms than those who took allergy medication alone.

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