Are there any health benefits of bee pollen to humans? Or is it merely hype? Let’s take a look at some of the evidence and the claims made in various sources of information.
1. Weight Loss
I have read that because bee pollen is of high nutritional value, it is helpful to those wishing to lose weight to replace empty calories during the process of weight loss.
So firstly, a point to note here:
There is a difference between ‘causing weight loss’ to occur, and simply providing a nutritional supplement for some-one in the process of losing weight.
I decided to conduct a nutritional comparison between 100 grams each of bee pollen, raw apple and boiled kale. I have to say, I gained the conclusion that ordinary foods in a well balanced diet should give you all you need. You can read more about this comparison on my page (opens a new window) describing nutritional Bee Pollen Benefits.
So, if you want to ensure you are not losing out on nutrients during weight loss, there’s an alternative idea:
I have written about this issue elsewhere on my website - see this page specifically about bee pollen and weight loss, as it goes into greater detail.
I really do think knowledge-based comparisons are important, so that people can make informed choices.
In fact, I have a similar page comparing
Honey Vs Sugar.
You will see that the humble apple actually out performs honey
nutritionally, in some areas. Honey, based on its nutritional value,
has been said to be beneficial in weight loss too. But actually, it is
high in calories. Yes, if you want to substitute honey for sugar by the
teaspoon, that’s all well, but eating lots of honey if you are on a
calorie controlled diet, won’t help you lose weight. There are plenty
of foods that can provide many of the nutritional benefits of honey,
including antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, if you are on a calorie
2. Athletic Performance
Some of the claimed health benefits of bee pollen include the improvement of athletic performance. This benefit may be of interest to you if you are engaged in sports. Whether or not athletes take it is one thing, whether or not it is truly effective in improving athletic performance is another. An athlete may start eating more sherbet lemons, and their performance may improve, but does that mean the sherbet lemons are responsible?
In addition, there are studies that throw
doubt on this claim. A six-week study of 20 swimmers published in 1982
found no performance difference when swimmers took bee pollen. (ref:
Maughan RJ, Evans SP. Effects of pollen extract upon adolescent
swimmers. British Journal of Sports Medicine 16:142-145, 1982 )
A study from the 1970’s looking at the impact of bee pollen on swimmers and cross country runners, also found no improved performance for those who took the pollen (ref: Steben RE, Boudroux P. The effects of pollen and pollen extracts on selected blood factors and performance of athletes. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 18:271-278, 1978).
Another claim made is that bee pollen is beneficial, because it digested quickly by the body. That may be true, but so what, there are many foods out there that are digested easily, and are inexpensive.
4. Eye Sight
Another of the proposed health benefits of bee pollen that I read about was in the prevention of age-related deterioration of the eye sight. I don’t know of any independent study, relating to bee pollen and human eye sight specifically, but if you discover one, please let me know through my contact page.
However, the evidence quoted for this claim appeared to be related to a study on spinach. The source of information stated that due to the lutein and zeaxanthin contained within spinach, then eating it had a protective effect against eye diseases. It also stated that eating a diet rich in vegetables containing lutein and zeaxanthin would similarily have a protective effect on the eye.
seemed to imply that because bee pollen contains these minerals, it
would also offer the same protective health benefit. Whilst this may be
the case, for me, it doesn’t really justify anyone spending their cash
on bee pollen, or even the bees being robbed of it. What it does in my
opinion, is provide further evidence as to why vegetables like spinach
are good for your health, and again, why everyday vegetables should be
incorporated into the diet.
5. General Aging
I have questions about the claims that bee pollen health benefits also include general aging. One such study quoted as evidence is by Qian B, Zang X, Liu X.: Effects of bee pollen on lipid peroxides and immune response in aging and malnourished mice. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 1990;15(5):301-3, 319.
Whilst these effects have been observed in mice, this does not mean they would be observed in humans. If you read my other page on bee pollen & weight loss, you will have read why I am sceptical about making assumptions based on animal testing (as are many highly qualified medical doctors), but just in case, I’ll repeat them here:
Even tests on similar animal species can show startlingly different results, for example, one study tested 392 chemicals, and found that whilst some were toxic for rats, they were not necessarily toxic for mice, and vice versa.
(source: "Ranking Possible Carcinogenic Hazards", Bruce N Ames, Renae Magaw and Lois Swirsky Gold, [i]Science[/i], Vol 236, 1987, p271 at 275).
6. Other Benefits
A number of other claims are made about the health benefits of bee pollen, including for use in some cancers, use during the menopause, and some specific diseases. I have not yet been able to investigate them fully. If you have any evidence in this area, I would be grateful if you could forward it to me via my contact page, thank you.
Bee Pollen Benefits
Go from Health Benefits Of Bee Pollen to this page exploring in detail the nutrition of bee pollen in comparison with ordinary foods.
Bee Pollen & Weight Loss
Go from Health Benefits Of Bee Pollen to this page exploring whether bee pollen aids weight loss.
What Is Bee Pollen?
Go from Health Benefits Of Bee Pollen to this page exploring what bee pollen is, and the different types of bee pollen.
Pollen Count Today
Do you suffer from hayfever? Go from Health Benefits Of Bee Pollen and check out these resources to find your local pollen count.
Go from Health Benefits Of Bee Pollen to these links, describing the roles of different bees in pollination.
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