Honey and obesity-related dysfunctions: a summary on health benefits

J Nutr Biochem. 2020 Aug:82:108401. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2020.108401. Epub 2020 Apr 17.


Honey is a natural product, containing flavonoids and phenolic acids, appreciated for its therapeutic abilities since ancient times. Although the bioactive potential is linked to the composition, that is variable depending on mainly the botanical origin, honey has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, honey, administered alone or in combination with conventional therapy, might result useful in the management of chronic diseases that are commonly associated with oxidative stress and inflammation state. Obesity is a metabolic disorder characterized by visceral adiposity. The adipose tissue becomes hypertrophic and undergoes hyperplasia, resulting in a hypoxic environment, oxidative stress and production of pro-inflammatory mediators that can be responsible for other disorders, such as metabolic syndrome and neurodegeneration. Experimental evidence from animals have shown that honey improves glycemic control and lipid profile with consequent protection from endothelial dysfunction and neurodegeneration. The purpose of the present review is to summarize the current literature concerning the beneficial effects of honey in the management of the obesity-related dysfunctions, including neurodegeneration. Based on the key constituents of honey, the paper also highlights polyphenols to be potentially responsible for the health benefits of honey. Further well-designed and controlled studies are necessary to validate these benefits in humans.

Keywords: Honey; Hypertension; Neurodegeneration; Obesity; Oxidative stress; Polyphenols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Glycemic Control / methods
  • Health Status
  • Honey*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxybenzoates / chemistry
  • Hyperplasia / diet therapy
  • Hypertension / diet therapy
  • Inflammation / diet therapy
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diet therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diet therapy
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Polyphenols / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Hydroxybenzoates
  • Polyphenols
  • phenolic acid