Bee pollen consists of flower pollen, nectar, honey, enzymes, bee secretions, and wax. Honey bees comb through plants for pollen and bring it to their beehives, for storage and food for their colony. However, bee pollen is different from honey, honeycomb or royal jelly as they might be mixed with other substances or simply do not contain pollen.
Why Bee Pollen?
It has become a popular topic within the health community in recent years due to its high nutritional value and high content of amino acids, lipids, vitamins, and more than 250 active substances. It is even recognized as a medicine in Germany.
Comprehensive studies have been done to analyze the health benefits of bee pollen and brought about positive news. Below are the scientifically proven results:
1. Fantastic Nutritional Value Consisting of Over 250 Active Substances
The biologically active substances include proteins, lipids, carbs, vitamins, fatty acids, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants. The composition is usually around:
- Carbohydrates: 40%
- Protein: 35%
- Water: 4-10%
- Fats: 5%
- Other substances: 5-15%
The composition and nutritional content, however, depends on the plant and season collected. For instance, there is a higher protein content in bee pollen collected from palm packs as compared to that of pine plants. Additionally, the amino acid composition in pollen collected during springtime differs from summer as well.
2. Rich Antioxidant Content Protects Body From Free Radicals and Chronic Diseases
Bee pollen is filled with a diverse range of antioxidants, such as flavonoids, carotenoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and glutathione. They protect your body from molecules like free radicals which could possibly be harmful. The damage caused by these free radicals is related to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Studies have shown that the antioxidants found in bee pollen could lessen chronic inflammation, and fight against bacteria and infections. Similarly, the antioxidant content in bee pollen differs depending on the plant.
3. Possibly Lowering Risk of Heart Disease Through Lower Blood Lipids and Cholesterol
The No. 1 cause of death globally, is heart disease. The occurrence of heart diseases is highly associated with high blood lipids and cholesterol levels. Fortunately, bee pollen could help to reduce them. For example, animal studies have revealed that extracts from bee pollen could lower blood cholesterol levels, particularly the “bad” LDL cholesterol. It also aids with visual field issues arising from high cholesterol levels. What’s more, antioxidants might protect the lipids from oxidizing, preventing congestion in blood vessels, and thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
4. Could Enhance Liver Function and Protect Against Toxic Substances
Our liver is important in breaking down and removing toxins from our blood. Studies on animals have highlighted that bee pollen could help in improving the detoxifying capabilities of the liver. It was found that the antioxidants in bee pollen supported the liver in discharging more waste products, for example, malondialdehyde and urea, from the blood. Furthermore, it also protected the liver from damages by several toxic substances such as drug overdoses. This helps the liver to recover. Despite this, there are little studies done on humans. More high-quality research on humans is required in order to advise on health effects.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Functions
Bee pollen has been used to alleviate inflammation and swelling since the past. A study found that the extract has lowered the swelling of rats’ paws by 75%. The anti-inflammatory effect is in fact, comparable to several other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for instance, phenylbutazone, analgin, indomethacin, and naproxen. The pollen contains compounds that reduce the amount of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids produced and could also prevent biological processes.
6. Stronger Immunity and Kills Bacteria
Bee pollen could aid in improving your immunity and prevent sicknesses. A study has found that pollen could lessen the intensity and onset of allergies. In another research, bee pollen was proven to decrease the activation of mast cells by a noticeable amount; mast cells are responsible for causing allergic reactions. Furthermore, it has antimicrobial properties and could destroy potentially harmful bacteria that induce staph infections.
7. Facilitate Wound Healing and Prevent Infections
The pollen has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which helps in wound healing processes. Studies have found that bee pollen is as effective or even better than standard medicines in treating wounds and also has lesser side effects. Their antimicrobial properties also help in preventing infections, which is a key factor that disrupts the wound healing process.
8. Anti-Cancer Properties
It has been found that bee pollen could be utilized in forestalling cancer, which happens when the cells multiply unnaturally. From the test-tube studies that have been conducted, the results showed that the pollen extracts were effective in stopping the growth of tumors and inducing apoptosis — where cells kill themselves — in colon prostate and leukemia-related cancers. Certain types of bee pollen might also possess anti-estrogen properties that could minimize the risk of prostate, uterine and breast cancers, though these theories require more in-depth studies.
9. Alleviate Menopausal Symptoms Like Hot Flashes
Menopause is frequently associated with numerous symptoms which bring great discomforts, such as mood swings, hot flushes, sleep disruptions, and night sweats. Fortunately, bee pollen is found to be able to relieve these symptoms. Some of the effects include suffering from lesser hot flashes along with better health. They were able to sleep better, become less irritated, suffer less joint pain and have better moods.
10. Improve Nutrient Absorption, Metabolism and Longevity
Research has proven that bee pollen could improve the uptake of nutrients such as iron, phosphorous and calcium by your body due to the presence of vitamin C and high-quality proteins. Furthermore, it could also enhance muscle growth, increase metabolism rate and support longevity. More human studies are, however, needed to validate this point.
11. Suitable for Most and Easy Addition to Diet
Bee pollen supplements are suitable for most people and can be easily found at health stores. Do take note that certain people, however, should avoid consumption of the supplements. This includes pregnant, lactating women, people with pollen or bee-related allergies, and those consuming blood thinners like warfarin.
Despite the numerous health benefits that have been mentioned in the article, it is crucial to note that these theories come from animal and test-tube studies. More research on humans has to be done in order to validate and confirm these health benefits. However, in general, bee pollen is beneficial in many aspects and is easily obtainable; so do give it a try if you’re curious!