Honey for the Heart: Cardiovascular Benefits for Postmenopausal Women
Honey has long been celebrated for its beneficial effects on cardiovascular symptoms. A study from 2018 takes the sweet benefit up a notch by looking at the 12-month effects of tualang honey and honey cocktail on cardiovascular risk factors of postmenopausal women.
Since time immemorial, honey has had widespread use as food and medicine, found perfectly preserved in ancient Egyptian tombs and in cave art some 8,000 years back.[i] Its lineup of active biological constituents includes polyphenols, which are nutritionally dense phytochemicals that boast of antioxidant properties.[ii]
Honey is no stranger to providing heart-friendly benefits, consistently appearing in studies to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It aids the body in its healthy processing of fats by decreasing the total amount of cholesterol and fats present in the bloodstream.[iii]
This benefit takes on special importance when it comes to menopause, as cardiovascular disease emerges as one of the long-term complications at this stage of life with the highest morbidity and mortality rates.[iv]
While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is widely prescribed to manage menopausal symptoms, concerns over its safety and side effects have got many postmenopausal women turning to alternative solutions,[v] such as the use of honey and beehive-based therapies.[vi]
In 2018, researchers investigated the long-term effects of honey — specifically tualang honey and honey cocktail made up of honey, bee bread and royal jelly — on cardiovascular markers in postmenopausal women.
Tualang Honey Lowers Blood Pressure, Fasting Blood Sugar
The group conducted a randomized, double blinded, two-armed parallel study that compared 20 grams (g) per day of tualang honey with 20 g per day honey cocktail in postmenopausal subjects ages 45 to 65.[vii] They then assessed heart health indicators at the beginning of the study as well as six and 12 months into the intervention.
If you haven’t heard about tualang honey before, it is a Malaysian multifloral jungle honey that has become popular in medical databases in recent years for its potential health benefits.[viii] The honey is created by the rock bee, building hives on branches of tall tualang trees in Peninsular Malaysia’s northwestern region.
The study recruited 100 participants and randomized them into groups. The results reflected a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure, from 77.92 mmHg at the beginning to 73.45 mmHg at 12 months in the tualang honey group versus the honey cocktail group. The researchers also saw a dramatic decrease in fasting blood sugar, dropping from 6.11 mmol/L at baseline to 5.71 mmol/L at the 12month mark in the same group compared to the other.
The study concluded that tualang honey therapy yielded super effects in lowering diastolic blood pressure as well as fasting blood sugar compared to honey cocktail. The latter, however, showed remarkable effects on body mass index (BMI).
“Twelve months of TH [tualang honey] and HC [honey cocktail] supplementation in postmenopausal women helped reduce some of the cardiovascular risk factors … The underlying mechanisms of TH and HC on the observed parameters are not fully understood and they need to be further investigated,” the researchers wrote.[x]
Nature’s Gift Against Cardiovascular Disease
An increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increases the risk of heart disease, also highly correlates with late-stage postmenopause.[xi] In one study, for instance, the participants had menopause for at least eight years, considered the late stage of postmenopause.[xii]
High blood pressure itself is a crucial risk factor for heart disease, with a prevalence that increases for postmenopausal women.[xiii] According to data, women have the highest high blood pressure risk five to nine years after they go into menopause.[xiv]
In previous studies, natural honey demonstrated an ability to modulate some of the risk factors present in cardiovascular disease,[xv] which is the leading cause of death in the U.S., causing one death every 37 seconds.[xvi] Honey also has protective effects against metabolic syndrome.[xvii]
Learn more from the more than 200 abstracts on GreenMedInfo.com that extol the different health benefits of consuming honey. Over 1,700 abstracts on GreenMedInfo.com also discuss cardiovascular diseases.
[i] Heathmont Honey, Bees, Honey history, https://www.heathmonthoney.com.au/bees/HoneyHistory.htm
[ii] Hossen MS et al “Beneficial roles of honey polyphenols against some human degenerative diseases: A review” Pharmacol Rep. 2017 Dec;69(6):1194-1205. Epub 2017 Jul 4.
[iii] Rasad H et al “The effect of honey consumption compared with sucrose on lipid profile in young healthy subjects (randomized clinical trial” Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2018 Aug;26:8-12. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2018.04.016.
[iv] AHEM Maas et al “Women’s health in menopause with a focus on hypertension” Neth Heart J. 2009 Feb;17(2):68-72.
[v] Amato P et al “Estrogenic activity of herbs commonly used as remedies for menopausal symptoms” Menopause. 2002 Mar; 9(2):145-150.
[vi] Elia D et al “Assessment of the tolerance and effectiveness of a food supplement Serelys (Femal) for menopausal women” Genesis. 2008 Nov;135:12-15.
[vii] AB Wahab SZ et al “Long-term effects of honey on cardiovascular parameters and anthropometric measurements of postmenopausal women” Complement Ther Med. 2018 Dec;41:154-160. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2018.08.015. Epub 2018 Sep 5.
[viii] Sarfarz Ahmed et al “Review of the Medicinal Effects of Tualang Honey and a Comparison with Manuka Honey” Malays J Med Sci. 2013 May; 20(3): 6-13.
[ix] Sarfarz Ahmed et al “Review of the Medicinal Effects of Tualang Honey and a Comparison with Manuka Honey” Malays J Med Sci. 2013 May; 20(3): 6-13.
[x] AB Wahab SZ et al “Long-term effects of honey on cardiovascular parameters and anthropometric measurements of postmenopausal women” Complement Ther Med. 2018 Dec;41:154-160. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2018.08.015. Epub 2018 Sep 5.
[xi] Marchi R et al “Prevalence of metabolic syndrome in pre and postmenopausal women” Arch Endrocrinol Metab. 2017 Mar-Apr;61(2):160-166. doi: 10.1590/2359-3997000000253. Epub 2017 Feb 16.
[xii] Harlow SD et al “Executive summary of the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop + 10: addressing the unfinished agenda of staging reproductive aging” Menopause. 2012 Apr;19(4):387-95. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31824d8f40.
[xiv] Cho GJ et al “Postmenopausal status according to years since menopause as an independent risk factor for the metabolic syndrome” Menopause. 2008 May-Jun;15(3):524-9. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181559860.
[xv] Rasad H et al “The effect of honey consumption compared with sucrose on lipid profile in young healthy subjects (randomized clinical trial” Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2018 Aug;26:8-12. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2018.04.016.
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