Clover Honey: Are There Health Benefits?

Clover honey is a variety of honey made by honeybees. As the name suggests, bees make this type of honey by collecting nectar from clover (Trifolium) flowers.

There are approximately 300 species of clover plants. The plants grow in temperate and subtropical regions all around the world (except for Australia and Southeast Asia). Widespread and hardy, clovers are a preferred food source for bees, making clover honey one of the most common types of honey you’ll see in the grocery store.

Bees make clover honey by collecting nectar from clover flowers, bringing it to their hives, and sealing it in honeycombs. Clover honey stored in beehives hardens into a sort of thick wax. Beekeepers harvest the honey periodically throughout the year. Some heat the liquid prior to bottling, whereas others sell the honey raw. In either state, clover honey provides some significant health benefits.

Nutrition Information

Clover honey doesn’t have much to offer in the way of vitamins and minerals, but it does have small amounts of:

A single tablespoon of clover honey contains:

  • 64 calories
  • 0 grams of protein
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 17 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0 grams of fiber
  • 16 grams of sugar

Potential Health Benefits of Clover Honey

While clover honey isn’t particularly rich in vitamins and minerals, it does have a lot of antioxidants. As a lighter-colored honey, it has fewer antioxidants than darker varieties. Still, it’s particularly high in flavanols and phenolic acid, two anti-inflammatory antioxidants known for providing several health benefits such as improving heart health and protecting the central nervous system.

Clover honey can:

Help your blood pressure . High blood pressure raises your chances of heart disease. Clover honey is high in flavanols, antioxidants that can help to regulate your blood pressure, which in turn helps to protect your heart health. Flavanol content also leads to better blood flow, as well as transportation of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. It helps the blood vessels to relax and widen, which can lower your blood pressure.

Lower bad cholesterol. High cholesterol levels are another risk factor for heart disease. Not only does clover honey have zero cholesterol, but it can also help to lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels and keep your overall cholesterol numbers in check.

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Make many diseases less likely. Free radicals develop naturally as your body turns food into energy. They also exist in the environment and can enter your body via breathing or consumption. Free radicals can damage your cells and your DNA, which makes several diseases more likely, including:

The antioxidants in clover honey can help to neutralize free radicals in your body, reducing oxidative stress and lowering your risk of disease.

Help kill bacteria. Honey, including clover honey, has antibacterial properties. A common ingredient in cough medicine, honey can help to soothe sore throats and suppress coughs. It also helps to kill harmful microbes.

Clover honey contains compounds that produce hydrogen peroxide, which can help to kill bacteria and prevent infections. It may also be effective as a topical antibacterial dressing for wounds such as foot ulcers.

Keep your brain healthy. The phenolic acid in clover honey may help to protect brain health. Studies show that this antioxidant may help several brain conditions, including:

Potential Risks of Clover Honey

Although clover honey provides some significant benefits, it’s still mostly sugar. Some studies indicate that clover honey may be better for your heart health and weight management than table sugar. Even so, it’s an added sugar, and you should use it in moderation.

Diets high in added sugars increase your chances of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Healthy Alternatives

If you're concerned that you're taking in too much added sugars, but you still need to sweeten your food or drinks, fruit may be your best option. For instance, try sweetening your oatmeal with some applesauce, or bananas.

Other natural sweeteners can be a good idea, as well, like vanilla extract, spices like cinnamon, or other natural things like cocoa powder, or almond extract.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 15, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

APUS: An Introduction to Nutrition: “8.2: Generation of Free Radicals in the Body.”

Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice: “The Clinical and Cost Effectiveness of Bee Honey Dressing in the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers.”

Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Clover.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Frontiers in Pharmacology: “Antioxidant and Oxidative Stress: A Mutual Interplay in Age-Related Diseases.”

International Journal of Angiology: “Oxidative Stress as a Mechanism of Added Sugar-Induced Cardiovascular Disease.”

International Journal of Food Microbiology: “Inhibitory Activity of Honey Against Foodborne Pathogens as Influenced By the Presence of Hydrogen Peroxide and Level of Antioxidant Power.”

Journal of the American College of Nutrition: “Dietary Flavanols: A Review of Select Effects on Vascular Function, Blood Pressure, and Exercise Performance.”

Nutrients: “The Neuroprotective Effects of Phenolic Acids: Molecular Mechanism of Action.”

Nutrition and Metabolism: Nutraceutical Values of Natural Honey and Its Contribution to Human Health and Wealth.”

Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: “Honey, Propolis, and Royal Jelly: A Comprehensive Review of Their Biological Actions and Health Benefits.”

The Scientific World Journal: “Natural Honey and Cardiovascular Risk Factors; Effects on Blood Glucose, Cholesterol, Trigycerole, CRP, and Body Weight Compared with Sucrose.”

Cleveland Clinic: "The 5 Best (And Worst) Sweeteners You Can Eat."

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