Bee pollen is being hailed as the latest supplement breakthrough, a superfood that is cheap, easy to acquire and not all that unpleasant. It’s honey’s healthier cousin, and if some advocates are to be believed it could be one of the healthiest foods around. But just what is it good for, what are the proven health benefits and are there any side effects you need to be concerned about?
What is Bee Pollen Good for?
There are a number of apparent health benefits of bee pollen. Some of these have been backed up by scientific research, which is always a plus, and we will get to those shortly.
First, it’s important to note just why bee pollen is so good for you. It is incredibly rich in nutrients, packing a punch that you will struggle to find in any other foodstuff. A single tablespoon, which contains just 16 calories and less than a quarter of a gram of fat, contains 1.2 grams of protein and over 250 nutrients, ranging from vitamins and minerals to powerful anti-oxidant flavonoids.
The nutrients compose less than 1.3% of bee pollen by volume, so don’t expect to get all of your recommend daily allowance in a single grain or even a single tablespoon, but do expect to give your body trace amounts and adequate amounts of many of the nutrients you may not be getting from other sources.
Bee Pollen Health Benefits
There are many potential health benefits of bee pollen, most of which are the result of its high antioxidant content. For instance, one study on bee pollen was able to conclude that it could be used to boost the immune system, potentially helping consumers to protect themselves from an array of diseases, while another found that bee pollen was just as effective as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antimutagenic as it was as an antioxidant.
It may also be able to improve liver health, as animal studies have shown that bee pollen can be used to hasten the healing process following liver damage and can also prevent damage and act to keep a healthy liver healthy.
Combined, bee pollen could be one of the most potent herbal medicines on the planet. And for something that is so readily available, so cheapen and so easy to consume, that’s nothing short of astonishing. Of course, you’re not going to get these benefits from consuming a few grains here and there and animal studies are usually connected with large amounts of the drug in question, but even at relatively small amounts (such as a teaspoon or tablespoon) bee pollen will flood your body with many beneficial compounds.
What makes this even more exciting as a potential wellbeing supplement is the fact that it is relatively side effect free (more on that soon) and completely natural. It can also be added to other potent antioxidants, such as tea. In fact, a drink made from green tea, sideritis tea, chamomile tea or any other healthy tea, that is then sweetened with Manuka honey and boosted with bee pollen, could match any other herbal medicine in terms of effectiveness.
It’s like a magical elixir that also happens to taste amazing.
Side Effects of Bee Pollen
It should go without saying that if you are allergic to pollen then you should avoid bee pollen. It could trigger a very serious allergic reaction, including symptoms ranging from itchiness and shortness of breath to anaphylaxis. It’s a very serious matter and no one who has even the slightest of pollen allergies should be consuming bee pollen.
If you are not allergic, then there should be no issues. It is a common foodstuff. You should still take it easy and avoid excessive consumption as this is a good piece of advice to consider for any substance, but if you do not have an allergy then you should not suffer any negative consequences.
How Much Bee Pollen to Take
There is no standard dose of bee pollen so it all depends on the individual or the recommendation of the company selling it to you. If you are new to bee pollen and don’t have any allergies to speak of then we would recommend trying a quarter of a teaspoon daily, before gradually building yourself up to a tablespoon a day. This should be enough to give you many of the health benefits associated with bee pollen without requiring you to overdo it to the point where you have to add it to everything you eat.
As for ways that you can consume it, it’s entirely up to you. We like to mix it with honey and add it to green tea. It dissolves and leaves a mild fragrance that complements the tea (providing you don’t add more than a half teaspoon per cup). You can also sprinkle it onto cereal, yoghurt, fruit or ice cream, or you can add it to a smoothie.
If you consume a daily superfood smoothie that contains all kinds of healthy ingredients, then pollen will make for the perfect addition. Providing the smoothie is thick and you’re not using too much bee pollen then you won’t even be able to notice the grains floating around in the drink. Which is a good thing, because as described in the next section, this isn’t the best tasting substance in the world.
What Does Bee Pollen Taste Like?
Bee pollen looks amazing. It’s unique, colorful. It looks like sweet fruity stones made in a factory by some candy giant. However, that’s not how it tastes. Not at all.
Anyone who tries to convince you that it is delicious, fragrant and just like honey is either lying or has no tastebuds. They could also be trolling you, because it’s not sweet and while it is fragrant, it’s not all that pleasant. It’s not overpowering though and it’s easy to consume when mixing a little into a cup of tea or sprinkling a little onto a cereal or yoghurt.
As soon as you use it for the first time you could be forgiven for getting a spoon and tucking in, expecting something amazing. And if you do, prepared to be disappointed.
If we were to create a superfood taste scale from 1 to 10, with green smoothies made from fermented greens and kale at 1 and blueberries at 10, bee pollen would get a comfortable 4. In other words, it’s not too bad as far as superfoods go, just don’t expect it to taste like blueberries.