Lately though, another product has been garnering all the attention – bee pollen. Made by honeybees, it is the food of the young bee. Just one tiny teaspoon of pollen takes one bee a whole month to gather – and that’s working eight hours a day! Each little pellet contains over two million flower pollen grains, with a teaspoon boasting more than 2.5 billion grains of flower pollen.
Here are eight reasons why there is so much ‘buzz’ about this superfood:
1. Rich Source of Protein, Vitamins and Antioxidants
Bee pollen is believed to be a rich source of many nutrients including B vitamins and folic acid along with amino acids – the building blocks of protein.
According to researchers at the Institute of Apiculture, Taranov, Russia:
“Honeybee pollen is the richest source of vitamins found in nature in a single food. Even if bee pollen had none of its other vital ingredients, its content of rutin alone would justify taking at least a teaspoon daily, if for no other reason than strengthening the capillaries. Pollen is extremely rich in rutin and may have the highest content of any source.”
Rutin is an antioxidant that helps the body use vitamin C and produce collagen. It can also be used to treat conditions like hemorrhoids, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
While you won’t be getting your daily dose of protein from bee pollen – a teaspoon contains a mere 2g – it is a high quality protein source as it contains many of the different types of amino acids we need.
2. Antibiotic Properties
In China, pollen is considered a medicine with many other cultures throughout the world using it for its antibiotic properties.
In fact, researchers discovered that there is a substance in bee pollen that kills some harmful bacteria including salmonella.
3. Heart and Blood Health
Tests on animals have shown that consuming bee pollen positively affects the health of their blood by stimulating production and activity of the white and red blood cells. Dr. Mercola states that when bee pollen is given to anemic patients, their levels of hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying red blood cells) increase considerably.
Cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood can also be normalized after eating bee pollen as the level of HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ kind) rises, while levels of LDL (the ‘bad’ kind) drop.
And, thanks to pollen’s high levels of the antioxidant rutin, it may help circulation and prevent heart attack and stroke as rutin strengthens capillaries and blood vessels.
4. Immune Strengthening
A Romanian report highlights the immune-strengthening effects of bee pollen.
Subjects given bee pollen experienced an increase in the level of blood lymphocytes, gamma globulins, and proteins over those participants not given any. The most significant difference occurred in levels of lymphocytes.
These are a type of white blood cell which are responsible for ridding the body of harmful substances like infections, bacteria, viruses, mutated cells, metabolic waste and more.
Gamma globulin, also called immunoglobulin, is a substance that contains antibodies which protect the body against diseases.
Just like honey, local bee pollen can be an effective remedy for hay fever and allergies if taken at least six weeks before the season begins, and enjoyed regularly throughout.
This technique, called desensitization, consists of administering small amounts of the allergen to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that will eliminate the allergic reaction.
Leo Conway, M.D. of Denver, Colorado treated over 60,000 documented and verified cases of allergies with pollen. He reported that 94% of his patients were completely free from allergy symptoms once treated.
He said of bee pollen: “I believe this pollen immunization can be achieved by incorporating pollen in a food, because the only need for proof is the effectiveness of commodity throughout the digestive tract.”
6. Physical Performance
Mercola quotes several coaches and athletic directors who swear by bee pollen as an effective food to improve athletic performance and strength – possibly due to its high levels of nutrients and protein.
Apparently, the British Sports Council recorded increases in strength by as much as 40% to 50% in those taking bee pollen regularly.
The coach of the Finnish track team that swept the Olympics in 1972 is thought to have said that most of his athletes took pollen food supplements, which he believed significantly improved performance.
What’s more, Alex Woodly, former executive director of the Education Athletic Club in Philadelphia, said:
“Bee pollen works, and it works perfectly. Pollen allows super-stars to increase their strength and stamina up to 25%. This increase in strength and endurance may be the key to the secret regenerative power of bee pollen. Bee pollen causes a definite decrease in pulse rate. The whole beauty of bee pollen is that it’s as natural as you can get. No chemicals. No steroids.”
However, not all research backs this up – a 1982 study found no benefits to athletic performance of adolescent swimmers supplementing with bee pollen.
Bee pollen is said to stimulate ovarian function, helping to assist and accelerate pregnancy.
Not only does it increase ovulation, but according to some sources, pollen improves the ability of eggs to withstand the incubation period.
8. Skin Health
Bee products such as honey have traditionally been used for healthy and glowing skin. But bee pollen can also offer several benefits for beauty. In fact, you may find it in skin softening products used for baby’s diaper rash or eczema.
The pollen is said to prevent premature aging of the cells, stimulate growth of new skin tissue, offer effective protection against dehydration and improve circulation.
Thanks to its high concentration of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA as well as a natural antibiotic factor, it can prevent or treat acne, blemishes, eczema and psoriasis.
While it can be taken internally, you can also use it topically for healing wounds and acne. Why not mix yourself up a bee pollen face mask? Blend two tablespoons of bee pollen, a quarter cup of whole milk or coconut milk, a tablespoon of raw honey, and a half cup of mashed avocado in a bowl. Apply this to your face and neck, leaving for 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
For more ways to achieve perfect skin, check out these 55 quick tips.
Is Bee Pollen Safe?
According to Web MD, bee pollen appears to be safe, at least for short term use. However, there are certain situations in which it is not advisable to take the pollen, or to consult with your doctor before doing so:
- If you have serious pollen allergies. In rare cases, bee pollen has led to an anaphylactic reaction which includes shortness of breath, hives, swelling and more. Initially reported in 1979 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, there have a handful of cases cited in medical literature since then. Evaluate your sensitivity by ingesting a single bee pollen pellet, and monitoring for signs and symptoms of intolerance. If you experience an adverse reaction, seek immediate medical attention.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding as it is not safe to take during these times.
- If you are taking certain medications, particularly blood thinners like warfarin. Check with your doctor before taking bee pollen if you take any other medications, over-the-counter treatments, or herbal supplements.
Choosing a Bee Pollen
Always look for a high quality pollen which consists of soft, fragrant, pliable granules. These yellow/brown grains should neither be pasteurized nor heated.
You’ll also want to purchase a local pollen which is best for strengthening immunity. Head to your nearest farmer’s market or health store to find a brand that is native to your region.
The flavor of the pollen varies depending on its source, so if you don’t like the flavor of the first brand you buy then shop around. Some pollen granules can be sweet and nutty, while others can be bitter. If you really hate the taste, you can always purchase pollen in capsule form – although it likely won’t be local.
How to Consume & Store Pollen
Always consume the pollen raw as heating it can alter its active enzymes and limit its nutritional value. It’s best enjoyed off the spoon, or added to smoothies, juices, salad dressings and raw desserts.
To prevent mold forming, keep your bee pollen granules in the freezer or fridge so moisture cannot get in. Capsules and tablets are fine to store at room temperature as they will have been sealed or treated.
Recipes Using Bee Pollen:
Looking for some tasty ways to consume bee pollen? Here are four delicious recipes for you to try:
This is a true superfood salad dressing containing extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, garlic, various spices and, of course, bee pollen. With a rich and robust flavor, it will liven up even the simplest of green salads.
With almond milk, banana, bee pollen, raw honey, dates, sesame seeds and cinnamon, this sweet smoothie is sure to keep you full and buzzing with energy all day long. Of course, you can always blend bee pollen into other smoothie recipes too – here are 10 great green smoothie recipes to try it with.
These no bake brownies are rich, gooey and surprisingly healthy. Along with the bee pollen, all you need are some organic roasted cocoa nibs, walnuts, almonds, dates and a pinch of sea salt.
A super indulgent way to get your daily dose of pollen, these impressive truffles are actually a cinch to make. Mix together cocoa powder, chopped dates, Manuka honey, sea salt, and bee pollen and shape into balls. Voila!