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Pregnancy health

Can Pregnant Women Eat Honey?

Wondering if pregnant women can eat honey? We spoke with medical experts to get the skinny on this all-natural sweetener.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Honey?

Getty / Oscar Wong

Winnie the Pooh had the right idea when he carried a honey pot and honestly, no one would question a pregnant woman doing the same (because, cravings). The sticky, sweet substance hits the spot. However, if you're deep into your second trimester, honey is a food you might not be sure about—like whether pregnant women can eat hotdogs.

If you have honey-dipped sweets on your baby registries to get you through your remaining trimesters, we've got you covered.

Can pregnant women eat honey?

Honey is delicious, which is why many people choose to use it in place of sugar or other sweeteners. Pregnancy sometimes changes the food rules, but don't put your honey pot away just yet.

"Yes, it is safe to eat honey in pregnancy," says Dr. Renita White, OB-GYN and advisor to The Honey Pot Co. "Rarely, a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum can contaminate honey and cause infants to develop a severe condition called botulism."

"While it is not safe for infants under one year to consume honey due to this potential risk, pregnant adults exposed to Clostridum-infected honey are not likely to develop the severe condition of botulism. Adults who are exposed to this bacteria cannot pass it to the developing baby while pregnant."

Can pregnant women eat raw honey?

The difference between raw honey and typical supermarket honey comes down to the pasteurization process. This makes the honey look clear and smooth. It also increases shelf-life and eliminates any yeast.

Raw honey, which is clouder in appearance, is taken straight from the honeycomb. Beekeepers might filter out debris from raw honey, but it's otherwise in its natural state. But is it safe to eat when pregnant?

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"Pregnant women can eat raw or pasteurized honey," White says. "No studies suggest that one is safer than the other."

However, some believe honey loses antioxidants during pasteurization, so it's important to research which might be best for you. Plus, some believe raw honey during pregnancy has the ability to fight allergies—the jury is still out on that one though.

How much honey is safe during pregnancy?

While Pooh Bear didn't measure his honey intake, pregnant women might reconsider. It's easy to overdo it. This is primarily due to its caloric value. At 64 calories per tablespoon, it adds up. But it's a safer alternative to granulated sugar and sweeteners, White says.

Can you eat honey while breastfeeding?

Good news—the same rules apply while breastfeeding, whether the honey is raw or pasteurized.

"Yes, you can eat honey while breastfeeding," says White. "However, due to the concern for infant botulism, do not directly give to your infant."

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Again, as long as you're not feeding honey to your baby, you're all good.

honey in a glass vase flows down from a wooden spoon Getty / Elizaveta Antropova

FAQ's

How likely is it that a jar of honey carries bacteria?

Studies show that some honey contains bacterial microorganisms like Clostridium botulinum, as stated above, but the chances are small.

Does honey go bad?

Typically, it takes a long time for honey to go bad because it has anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties. The natural sweetener is also known to contain hydrogen peroxide, low Ph levels, minimal moisture content, and high glucose—all of which keep mold and fungi at bay (for the most part).

If, however, your honey has a weird, fermented smell or visible mold, don't eat it. Seriously.

What is the nutritional value of honey?

Honey contains enzymes, antioxidants, and minerals. It also has a slightly lower glycemic index that doesn't spike blood sugar levels as much as table sugar (and that's a good thing for both you and your unborn child). At roughly 64 calories per tablespoon, it's a healthier alternative to regular sugars.

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All in all, honey is almost perfectly safe to consume in small amounts when pregnant—so grab your honey pot and start drizzling it on your favorite healthy treats.

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