Green Tea with Honey: Nutrition, Health Benefits, Downsides

Green tea is a popular drink enjoyed around the world. Drinking green tea may be associated with a reduced risk of death from many chronic diseases, though the research into its protective effects isn’t exactly consistent (1).

This tea is often paired with honey to cut the bitterness and add sweetness for an enjoyable hot beverage. Honey may also offer some health benefits, including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (2).

This article covers the possible health benefits of drinking green tea with honey.

Green tea, when combined with water, is a beverage that provides no calories but is filled with nutrients, such as polyphenols and minerals linked to many health benefits (3, 4).

You can get green tea in both caffeinated and decaffeinated forms. While everybody responds to caffeine differently, research suggests that moderate caffeine intake may offer some benefits, such as better focus, and may reduce your risk of chronic diseases (5).

Green tea and matcha — a variation of the tea made from the same leaves — are rich in antioxidants and other compounds that have been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative conditions (5, 6).

Drinking green tea may also reduce stress, which offers mental health benefits. This effect may be related to green tea’s L-theanine content (7, 8th).

Initial research on L-theanine, a compound found in green tea and other plant foods, suggests that it may reduce anxiety and stress, and it’s being investigated for other potential mental health benefits (9).

In addition to combating stress, lower-caffeine green tea has been shown to improve sleep quality, which can support better overall health (10).

Summary

Drinking green tea offers a number of physical health benefits and may offer mental health benefits as well, but more research is needed in this area.

Honey is a sweetener that has been used as a natural remedy in many cultures throughout history. It’s primarily made up of carbohydrates, and 1 teaspoon provides about 6 grams of added sugar and 21 calories (11).

Traditionally, honey was used to treat anything from throat infections and asthma to eczema and wounds (12, 13).

Research does support some of these uses, especially in treating upper respiratory infections and eczema (14).

Today, honey — especially raw honey — draws attention for its antioxidants. However, it’s unclear if that antioxidant content provides an actual health benefit (12, 13, 15).

Although honey may offer more health benefits than some other sweeteners, it is still sugar and should be consumed in moderation.

One study showed that honey has a similar metabolic effect on the body as white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, but other research in this area is inconsistent (12, 13, 14).

So, when adding honey to your green tea, less is more.

The American Heart Association recommends keeping added sugar to fewer than 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men per day, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar to 10% of your total calories each day (16, 17).

Summary

Honey is a caloric sweetener that contributes added sugar to your diet. While it may offer some small health benefits, it should still be consumed in moderate amounts.

Both green tea and honey individually offer some possible health benefits, but together may provide even more.

Green tea with honey may help reduce cold and flu symptoms

Both hot tea and honey are known to alleviate symptoms of a sore throat. But drinking green tea with honey may provide more benefits than just soothing your throat.

Drinking green tea with honey could help manage symptoms and possibly even reduce the risk of the common cold and flu, but it’s unclear how much you need to drink to experience benefits.

Research has shown a connection between tea catechins — a compound found in green tea — and lower rates of the flu, as well as fewer symptoms. Honey may also help with symptom management (18, 19).

However, remember that green tea with honey can’t cure any conditions.

Evidence is mixed on how much green tea you need to drink to see the symptom-relief benefits. Some studies suggest as few as 3 cups daily, whereas others tested levels of catechins found in 10 cups of green tea (19).

Adding honey to your green tea may make it more palatable by cutting some of the bitterness, leading you to drink more, which may also help with hydration when sick.

Green tea with honey may be good for your teeth

It may come as a surprise that a sweetened beverage could offer benefits to your teeth, but emerging research does suggest that drinking green tea with honey may reduce the risk of tooth decay.

A small study showed that drinking green tea and honey together reduced the bacterium Streptococcus mutans — a contributor to tooth decay — in the mouths of young boys (20).

Other, older studies have suggested that honey may be better for your teeth than table sugar (21, 22).

However, more up-to-date research is needed on how much is safe to drink and whether there is an actual protective effect.

Green tea with honey may support diabetes management

When it comes to blood sugar management, unsweetened beverages are best. However, a cup of green tea with honey may be safe — or even helpful — for people with diabetes.

An older analysis of 17 studies suggested that green tea may improve insulin sensitivity and lower fasting glucose and HgA1C, important blood markers for diabetes (23).

In addition, several studies have shown that honey may be better than other types of sugar for people with diabetes (24, 25, 26).

However, more up-to-date research is needed before we can be sure that green tea with honey may have these benefits. We also need more research into how much green tea with honey is safe for people living with diabetes to drink.

If you live with diabetes, it’s still recommended that you limit added sugars, including honey.

Green tea and honey appear to offer many potential benefits — both individually and when enjoyed together. However, there can be too much of a good thing.

Green tea does contain caffeine. Most people tolerate some caffeine well, but if you’re sensitive to caffeine or pregnant, you may want to limit your consumption to one or two cups daily. You may also try decaf green tea.

The caffeine in green tea may interrupt sleep, so it’s best to limit how much you drink in the afternoon or evening, unless it’s decaf (10).

In addition, it’s recommended to keep added sugar consumption to less than 10% of your daily calories, and that includes honey. Be mindful about how much you’re adding to your tea and how many cups you drink per day (27).

Green tea and honey both offer potential health benefits, and drinking them together may be even more advantageous.

Green tea is filled with antioxidants that may reduce your risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. It may also offer mental health benefits.

Honey is a sweetener that has also been used for medicinal purposes in the past. It may offer some benefits in soothing sore throats and treating eczema.

However, be aware of both the caffeine and added sugar content when sipping this beverage. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, stick to decaf green tea or drink only one to two cups daily with a bit of honey for flavor.

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