Bee pollen: benefits and contraindications
The nutritional intake of pollen depends very much on the source (the flower from which it was collected), as well as the season. In addition, bee pollen collected during the spring has a significantly different amino acid composition than that collected during the summer.
Bee pollen: benefits and contraindications
The beneficial properties of pollen for health have been known for centuries, and it is found in both traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. If you like to consume pollen, find out that in addition to the series of known benefits, pollen also comes with certain side effects that are good to keep in mind.
Nutritional values pollen
For a teaspoon of pollen:
0 g fat
7 g carbohydrates
4 g of sugar
1 g fiber
0 mg sodium
0 mg cholesterol
2 g protein
It is important to note, however, that the nutritional intake of pollen depends very much on the source (the flower from which it was collected), as well as the season. For example, pollen collected from pine flowers has about 7% more protein, while pollen collected from date flowers has almost 35% more protein than pollen obtained from a polyfloral mixture. In addition, bee pollen collected during the spring has a significantly different amino acid composition than that collected during the summer.
What is pollen?
According to experts, the pollen consists of a mixture of bee saliva, nectar and plant pollen that clings to the backs of the feet of worker bees. The bees bring the pollen back to the hive, then collect it in the honeycomb cells, where it will ferment. Pollen can come from different plants, including buckwheat and corn. Therefore, its composition may vary, depending on the plant source and even the geographical region.
Pollen is different from honey, propolis or bee venom, but, like them, is used in apitherapy – a form of alternative therapy that uses, for curative purposes, products derived directly from the hive. Nutritionally, bee pollen appears to be composed of 50% polysaccharides (eg carbohydrates), in addition to which it may contain lipids, proteins, simple sugars, vitamin C, carotenoids, phytonutrients and flavonoids, such as quercetin.
Bee pollen should not be confused with other beekeeping products, such as honey, royal jelly, propolis or honeycombs. These products may or may not contain pollen, but in principle they are made up of other pollen-derived substances.
Recently, bee pollen has gained more and more ground in the medical research community, because it is particularly rich in nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, lipids, containing in its composition over 250 active substances. Over time, numerous studies have been done on the health effects of pollen, with promising discoveries.
Properties and benefits
Due to the content of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, pollen is associated with decreased inflammation. According to an article published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, bee pollen can inhibit the enzymatic activity responsible for the development of inflammatory processes in the body. There is also research that suggests that a mixture of royal jelly and pollen may reduce the symptoms of PMS, such as irritability and weight gain. However, more studies are needed to confirm this information.
The best known benefit of pollen is that it strengthens the immune system by stimulating the immune response of the spleen. Although a number of animal studies have been performed, clinical trials in humans are needed to strengthen this hypothesis.
One thing is certain, bee pollen has antibacterial and antiseptic properties that help regenerate the affected tissue. Research suggests that applying a bee pollen ointment to a wound or burn can speed up the healing process.
In addition, bee pollen can support the proper functioning of the liver system by protecting the liver from toxins. The liver is a vital organ for the body, which disintegrates and eliminates toxins accumulated in the blood. Due to the detoxifying properties of pollen, the work of the liver will be facilitated. This is done by strengthening the antioxidant barrier of the liver and eliminating a greater amount of toxins, such as malondialdehyde or urea, from the blood. Pollen can also promote the recovery of the liver affected by hepatic steatosis.
In addition, bee pollen is used in diets, before training – for energy – and as a general tonic, although there is not enough scientific evidence to support these practices. Given the rich content of vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants, pollen can serve as an excellent pre-workout snack, which will be both satisfying and conducive to a workout as full of energy as possible.
Contraindications and risks associated with pollen consumption include:
Allergic reactions: If you are allergic to flower pollen, bee pollen can be just as problematic for you. So, if you want to consume pollen-based supplements or pollen as such, it is advisable to do an allergological test beforehand, to avoid the unpleasant symptoms associated with the allergic reaction to pollen.
Undesirable interactions with anticoagulant drugs: Bee pollen may interact with anticoagulant drugs, so if you are taking such treatment, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before taking pollen.
Contraindications to pregnancy: bee pollen can affect pregnancy, so it should be avoided during both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Pollen can be easily integrated into breakfast meals and snacks, such as yogurts, porridges, puddings or smoothies. You can even use it in desserts, for example, in the composition for homemade chocolate or granola.
Bee pollen can be bought from plafar stores, beekeeping stores or from homeopathic products. It can be purchased as such (sub granules) or as food supplements (capsules, drops).
The taste of pollen depends very much on the pollen of the flower from which it comes, but in general, the taste is aromatic and slightly bitter. If you have decided to follow a pollen cure, it is good to start with a small amount, for example – a quarter of a teaspoon a day – which you should gradually increase, to avoid the risk of allergic reactions. In time, you can reach 1 teaspoon a day, and the cure can last about 4 weeks.