A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

4 benefits of honey and a protein-packed recipe

Honey Energy Bites 2-20 Inside

Honey-Peanut Butter Protein Energy Bites make for an easy, healthy snack or dessert.

Sticky and sweet, honey boasts many natural benefits.

Marshfield Clinic Health System nutritionist Paula McIntyre dips into four benefits of honey, shared from the National Honey Board™.


“Honey is an antioxidant, which protects against cancer, improves immunity and decreases inflammation,” McIntyre said.

Honey is chock full of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. Polyphenols also are found in fruits and vegetables, olive oil and tea.

Cough suppressant

Various wives’ tales linger on soothing sore throats and coughs. Honey is not one of those myths.

“Because of its thickness, honey nicely coats the throat and can provide relief for soreness or coughing,” she said.

Between spoonfuls of honey, stay hydrated with tea sweetened by honey.

Honey is not safe for children under 2 years old. Here are alternatives for child-size sore throats.

Skin care

Honey is a humectant, which means it retains moisture. Many shampoos, conditioners, face cleansers and creams include honey.

“If your skin and hair care products do not include honey, you can add a tablespoon or two to your bottle,” McIntyre said.

Sites like Pinterest have recipes to make your own honey cleansers, creams and masks.

Learn more about using honey in facial masks. Read Shine365 Do’s and don’ts of DIY facial masks.


Honey is sweeter than sugar so less can be used in recipes, McIntyre said.

American Beekeeping Foundation gives these recommendations to replace sugar with honey:

  • Substitute up to half the sugar in a recipe: 2/3 to 3/4 cup honey per 1 cup sugar.
  • In baked goods:
    • Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F
    • Reduce liquid by 1/4 cup for each 1 cup honey
    • Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each 1 cup honey

“Regardless of the type of sugar to sweeten a beverage or food, use small amounts,” she said.

For reference: 1 tablespoon honey has approximately 64 calories, 1 tablespoon maple syrup has approximately 52 calories and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar contains approximately 48 calories.

If you choose to use 3/4 cup honey to replace 1 cup sugar, the calories are 768 for either option. Two-thirds cup honey to replace 1 cup sugar is only 675 calories, a small calorie savings.

Use honey for a natural binder and thickener in sauces, marinades, dips and dressings.

Try this protein-packed recipe

Fill your belly with honey-peanut butter goodness.

Honey-Peanut Butter Protein Energy Bites

Prep time: 20 minutes

Chill time: 30 minutes


  • 1-1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, shelled (optional)
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter


In a medium bowl, add oats, coconut, almonds, hemp seeds and protein powder. Stir until well distributed.

Add honey, apricots and peanut butter. Stir well.

Put mixing bowl into refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

After chill time, roll mixture into rounded balls. This recipe makes about two dozen energy bites. When chilled, they last about 5 days.

Nutrition information:

Serving size (3 energy bites): 196 calories; 6 g protein; 25 g carbohydrates; 8 g fat; 2.5 g fiber; 41 g sodium.

Source: National Honey Board™

Print energy bites recipe

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