You might already love honey with its amazing health-enhancing properties. But did you know that bees also give us another natural product that’s great for your health? Bee pollen is the pollen of flowers gathered by bees. It is collected by installing a pollen trap at the entrance of the beehive. Bee pollen is rich in protein and also contains vitamins A, E, D and B, carbohydrates, minerals (phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and selenium), and fat.
Bee pollen has been valued for its healing properties for ages. The ancient Egyptians called it “a life-giving dust” and Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder prescribed it to their patients.1 2 So, let’s take a look at what this gift from the bees can do for us.
1. Fights Inflammation
Inflammation can cause swelling and even pain but bee pollen can help deal with this. One study found that an ethanol extract of bee pollen given orally strongly inhibited swelling (edema) in the paws of rats. The bee pollen extract inhibited the activity of an enzyme called COX – 2, which promotes inflammation and pain, and also the production of nitric oxide, which plays a role in the regulation of inflammatory responses. The researchers suggested that flavonoids in bee pollen may be responsible for this effect.3
2. Gives You An Antioxidant Boost
Bee pollen contains compounds like flavonols and anthocyanins which give it potent antioxidant properties and make it helpful in keeping us healthy. Our bodies generate free radicals during the course of normal functioning. These free radicals can cause cellular damage and are implicated in a variety of conditions from autoimmune disorders, cancer, and cataract to cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and aging. However, antioxidants can help in the elimination of free radicals and have a protective effect on our health.4 But do keep in mind that the antioxidant capacity of bee pollen can vary depending on the species of pollen that it consists__ of.
3. Treats Iron Deficiency Anemia
Anemia is a condition characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells. Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a deficiency in iron, which is used by the body to produce red blood cells. A study on rats with iron deficiency anemia found that adding bee pollen to their diet led to an increase in hemoglobin levels and resulted in better weight gain. Bee pollen also improved the digestive utilization of iron. It also reduced the adverse effects of iron deficiency on calcium and magnesium metabolism by improving the digestive utilization of these minerals.5
4. Protects Your Liver
Several medications and toxic chemicals are known to damage the liver. But bee pollen might be a safe and natural way to heal your liver. One study found that chestnut bee pollen was effective in healing rats who suffered from liver damage due to exposure to carbon tetrachloride, a toxic chemical. The bee pollen, which was administered orally, was also found to protect cells in the liver from oxidative stress.6
5. Fights Infections
Bee pollen is known for its antimicrobial properties. One study found that Moroccan bee pollen was effective against various strains of bacteria like P. aeruginosa, E. coli, S. aureus, and B. cereus.7 So bee pollen might be able to defend you against a range of infection-causing pathogens.
6. Helps With Allergies
Bee pollen has been used for ages as a folk remedy to deal with allergic reactions. Now, scientific research gives us some insight into how it works. An animal study found that when bee pollen was orally administered it inhibited the activation of mast cells which play a significant role in allergic reactions. Do keep in mind though that bee pollen can cause an allergic reaction if you’re sensitive to pollen.8
7. Improves Menopausal Symptoms
Menopause can be a difficult time with symptoms like hot flushes, hair loss, night sweats, and pain during sexual intercourse. But it has been found that a mixture of honey and bee pollen can be helpful – honey enhances the efficacy of pollen and improves its taste. One study used this for women with breast cancer who were suffering from menopausal symptoms due to anti-hormonal treatments. A majority of them showed improvements and the researchers suggested that this treatment could be used in healthy women undergoing menopause too. It’s also worth noting that honey by itself was also found to improve menopausal symptoms.9
Easy And Healthy Bee Pollen Recipes
1. Strawberry Bee Pollen Smoothie
Smoothies are the most popular on-the-go drinks that, when made with the right ingredients, provide you with numerous health benefits. This delicious drink is just a regular strawberry and banana drink but with the energy-boosting benefits of bee pollen.
- 6–7 strawberries
- ½ banana
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- ½ cup milk
- ½ tablespoon bee pollen
1. Put all the ingredients in a blender.
2. Blend until you get a smooth mixture.
3. Pour the smoothie into a glass and serve it cold.
2. Banana And Bee Pollen Granola Bars
Busy mornings call for a quick breakfast. What’s better than a nutrient-packed granola bar that you can munch on as you head to work? These granola bars are good for curbing sugar cravings and keep you full.
- 1 peeled banana
- 1 cup almond butter or peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons bee pollen
- 2 cups oats
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- ¼ cup honey
1. To a large bowl, add banana, oats, almond butter, vanilla, cinnamon, pollen, and honey and mix well.
2. Coat a large pan with coconut oil.
3. Spread the dough evenly on the pan and cover it with wax paper.
4. Place the pan in the freezer for about 24 hours. Ensure that the dough is firm when you remove it from the freezer.
5. Now, cut the dough into small bars and store it in a closed container in the freezer.
3. Bee Pollen Dark Chocolate Bites
If you are looking for a quick snack to keep you going, these energy bites are just what you are looking for. They are perfect for you if you are a conscious eater with a sweet tooth.
- 700 grams loosely chopped dark chocolate
- 1 cup mixed toasted nuts
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 cup dried fruit
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons bee pollen
1. Chop the toasted nuts and dried fruit.
2. To melt the chocolate, make a double boiler by placing a stainless steel mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
3. While melting the chocolate in the mixing bowl, add the chopped nuts, dried fruit, and seeds to it. Stir it well.
4. Now, pour the chocolate mixture into chocolate molds or muffin tins.
5. Sprinkle it with bee pollen and allow it to set in a dark place for a few hours. In addition to bee pollen, you can sprinkle raisins or dried blueberries.
4. No-Bake Bee Pollen Brownies
Can’t resist brownies but have fitness goals to hit? These no-bake brownies contain natural sweeteners like dates and bee pollen, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals, making them ideal for a nutritional boost.
- 1 teaspoon bee pollen
- 1 cup baker’s chocolate
- 2 cups walnuts
- 2½ cups pitted dates
- 1 cup almonds
- ¼ tablespoon sea salt
1. Grind the baker’s chocolate to a fine powder.
2. Chop the almonds and set aside.
3. In a food processor, combine walnuts, chocolate powder, salt, pollen, and dates. Pulse to get a crumbly consistency.
4. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and add the chopped almonds to it.
5. Gently fold the mixture.
6. Now, press this mixture into a parchment lined baking sheet.
7. Spread the baker’s chocolate across the top of the brownies and gently press it.
8. Put the pan in the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
9. Remove the set brownies and transfer it to a cutting board. Dust it with chocolate powder and ground bee pollen.
10. Cut it into small pieces and serve.
Store the brownies in an air-tight container in the fridge.
5. Bee Pollen Salad Dressing
Add bee pollen salad dressing to your favorite salad for a mild sweet taste. You can also sprinkle it over your salad for an added crunch.
- 1½ tablespoon bee pollen
- 2 tablespoon ground mustard
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoon agave nectar
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 pinch of sea salt
1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients.
2. Refrigerate it for about 1 hour for the bee pollen to dissolve.
3. Mix it well and drizzle over your salad.
A Word Of Caution
While bee pollen has various beneficial effects, it’s best to avoid it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It can also cause severe allergic reactions if you’re allergic to pollen. And it might increase the effects of certain medications (for instance, certain blood thinners) too. In fact, it’s best to check with your doctor before taking bee pollen if you’re on any medication.10
|↑1||Campos, M., Christian Frigerio, Joana Lopes, and Stefan Bogdanov. “What is the future of Bee-Pollen.” Journal of ApiProduct and ApiMedical Science 2, no. 4 (2010): 131-144.|
|↑2||Komosinska-Vassev, Katarzyna, Pawel Olczyk, Justyna Kaźmierczak, Lukasz Mencner, and Krystyna Olczyk. “Bee pollen: Chemical composition and therapeutic application.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).|
|↑3||Maruyama, Hiroe, Takashi Sakamoto, Yoko Araki, and Hideaki Hara. “Anti-inflammatory effect of bee pollen ethanol extract from Cistus sp. of Spanish on carrageenan-induced rat hind paw edema.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 10, no. 1 (2010): 30.|
|↑4||Leja, M., A. Mareczek, G. Wyżgolik, J. Klepacz-Baniak, and K. Czekońska. “Antioxidative properties of bee pollen in selected plant species.” Food Chemistry 100, no. 1 (2007): 237-240.|
|↑5||Haro, Ana, Inmaculada López-Aliaga, Francisco Lisbona, Mercedes Barrionuevo, María JM Alférez, and Margarita S. Campos. “Beneficial effect of pollen and/or propolis on the metabolism of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in rats with nutritional ferropenic anemia.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 48, no. 11 (2000): 5715-5722.|
|↑6||Yıldız, Oktay, Zehra Can, Özlem Saral, Esin Yuluğ, Ferhat Öztürk, Rezzan Aliyazıcıoğlu, Sinan Canpolat, and Sevgi Kolaylı. “Hepatoprotective potential of chestnut bee pollen on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic damages in rats.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine 2013 (2013).|
|↑7||Abouda, Z., I. Zerdani, I. Kalalou, M. Faid, and M. T. Ahami. “The antibacterial activity of Moroccan bee bread and bee-pollen (fresh and dried) against pathogenic bacteria.” Research Journal of Microbiology 6, no. 4 (2011): 376.|
|↑8||Ishikawa, Yasuko, Tomoko Tokura, Nobuhiro Nakano, Mutsuko Hara, François Niyonsaba, Hiroko Ushio, Yuji Yamamoto, Tadahiro Tadokoro, Ko Okumura, and Hideoki Ogawa. “Inhibitory effect of honeybee-collected pollen on mast cell degranulation in vivo and in vitro.” Journal of medicinal food 11, no. 1 (2008): 14-20.|
|↑9||Münstedt, Karsten, Benjamin Voss, Uwe Kullmer, Ursula Schneider, and Jutta Hübner. “Bee pollen and honey for the alleviation of hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms in breast cancer patients.” Molecular and clinical oncology 3, no. 4 (2015): 869-874.|
|↑10||Bee Pollen. National Institutes of Health.|