Honey has long been used to sweeten foods and beverages, including tea and coffee. In fact, many people prefer this sweet, thick liquid as a healthier alternative to sugar or zero-calorie sweeteners. However, while honey may offer several health benefits, it has some drawbacks to consider.
This article reviews whether you should add honey to your coffee.
May provide trace amounts of nutrients
Unlike sugar and artificial sweeteners, both of which offer little in terms of nutrition, honey provides some vitamins, minerals, and other health-boosting compounds that may give your coffee a slight nutritional boost (1Trusted Source). It also contains antioxidants, which have been shown to help prevent cellular damage caused by harmful compounds called free radicals (2Trusted Source).
Furthermore, raw honey contains pollen, which has been shown to help reduce allergies and boost your immune system (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source). That said, the small amounts of honey typically added to hot coffee are unlikely to offer significant benefits.
Unlike sugar and artificial sweeteners, honey contains nutrients and other healthy compounds. However, the small amount of honey typically added to hot coffee will only provide minimal health benefits.
Adds empty calories
Though honey contains some nutrients, it comprises mostly sugar. For optimal health, you should limit your intake of added sugars, including honey, to no more than 5% of your daily calorie intake (5Trusted Source).
Adding 2 teaspoons (14 grams) of honey, which provide 40 calories and 12 grams of sugar, to your coffee could easily cause you to surpass this limit, especially if you drink several cups per day (5Trusted Source, 6). High added sugar intake has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source). If you’re trying to reduce your daily calories you may want to skip sweetening your coffee altogether or choose a natural, zero-calorie sweetener like stevia or monk fruit.
Adding honey to your coffee adds sugar and calories to the beverage. Depending on your health goals, you may want to choose a zero-calorie sweetener instead.
May alter the flavor
Honey may also change the flavor of your coffee. The flavor of honey depends on the type of pollen from which it’s made. For example, clover honey — the most common type in the United States — has a very mild flavor, while other varieties like buckwheat or manuka have a much stronger taste. Still, even mild clover honey will alter the taste of your coffee compared with neutral-tasting table sugar or other sweeteners.
If you choose to add honey to your coffee, start with only a small amount of a mild honey like clover to limit how much the taste is altered and adjust how much you add until you have found your sweet spot.
Honey may change the flavor of your coffee. To limit this effect, only use a small amount of a mild-tasting honey like clover.
The bottom line
Unlike sugar and zero-calorie sweeteners, honey can provide trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, adding it to your coffee also adds sugar and calories and changes the flavor of your drink. Ultimately, whether you choose to add honey to your coffee depends on your preferences and dietary goals.