Clover Health Benefits
If you've ever gone hunting for four-leaf clovers, you're familiar with the clover plant, which grows in abundance all over the world. What you might not know about this so-called "lucky plant" is that in addition to being a common ground covering, clover is often used as a medicinal herb.
Clover is both edible and potentially beneficial to your health. You can eat the leaves in salad or boil the blossoms to make tea. You can also buy clover supplements.
Clover Nutrition Information
The FDA classifies clover along with animal feeds and medicines, so it doesn't provide official nutritional information for it.
But red clover, which is the type most often researched for human use, is known to contain several vitamins and minerals. They include:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin C
It's also rich in isoflavones, plant substances known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These compounds can also act like estrogen in the body, so they're sometimes called phytoestrogens.
Another variety, Dutch White Clover, is rich in vitamins A and C.
Potential Health Benefits of Clover
Clover has been said to have been used to treat everything from menstrual cramps to asthma. But scientists are only beginning to research these common uses. Although many claims about clover aren't backed by scientific data, early research has found that its possible benefits may include:
Improved bone health. Osteoporosis is thinning of the bones that usually occurs later in life. One risk factor for osteoporosis is menopause. Studies show that phytoestrogens like isoflavones may help improve bone mineral density during menopause. But we need more studies on this.
Prostate health. One small study found that a red clover isoflavone extract lowered prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men whose readings were high. High PSA levels are a risk factor for prostate cancer. Keep in mind, though, that red clover can interact with certain medicines used to treat cancer. If you have prostate cancer, ask your doctor before you use clover.
Better artery health. Research suggests that a clover isoflavone extract could help arteries stay strong and flexible during menopause. This could help protect against heart disease.
Keep in mind that all of these studies looked at a concentrated extract of clover rather than the plant itself. Clover plants aren't likely to offer the same level of possible benefits.
Potential Risks of Clover
Talk to your doctor before using clover or clover supplements.
Possible side effects of clover include rashes, nausea, and headaches. It may put you at high risk of bleeding, especially if you take blood thinners. Avoid clover if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Clover honey is a sweetener with a light color and slightly floral flavor. Bees make clover honey by collecting nectar from clover flowers.
While clover honey is high in sugar, it also offers some healthy nutrients. Keep in mind, though, that you're not likely to eat enough honey to take in large amounts of them.
All types of honey are sometimes used as home remedies to help ease coughs and soothe sore throats and to help heal minor skin injuries.
Clover honey benefits
Clover honey isn't particularly rich in vitamins and minerals, but it does have antioxidants (though not as many as darker varieties of honey).
Some of the substances in honey may be able to:
Help your blood pressure. High blood pressure raises your risk of heart disease. Clover honey is high in flavanols, antioxidants that can help keep your blood pressure in check if you eat them regularly.
Lower bad cholesterol. High cholesterol levels are another risk factor for heart disease. Honey has zero cholesterol, but some research indicates it can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and keep your overall cholesterol levels in check. We need more research on this, though.
Make many diseases less likely. Free radicals are harmful molecules that develop naturally as your body turns food into energy. They're also found in substances like air pollution and cigarette smoke. Free radicals can damage your cells and your DNA, which raises your risk of diseases like:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
Antioxidants you get from food, such as those in clover honey, help neutralize free radicals in your body and so lower your risk of disease.
Help kill bacteria. Honey, including clover honey, has properties that can help fight bacterial and other harmful microbes. Its high sugar content makes it hard for bacteria to grow. An enzyme in honey also naturally produces hydrogen peroxide.
Keep your brain healthy. Phenolic acid, like that found in clover honey, may help protect your memory brain health. Studies show a diet high in this antioxidant may help protect against several brain conditions, including:
- Imbalances following brain injuries
- Parkinson's disease
- Huntington's disease
Clover honey nutrition
Clover honey has small amounts of:
- Vitamin C
A single tablespoon of clover honey contains:
- Calories: 60
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 17 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugar: 16 grams