7 Best Benefits of Bee Pollen, According to Nutrition Experts
You’ve probably seen jars of bee pollen available at your local health food store, and it’s becoming more popular on menus as a smoothie add-in, salad ingredient, or finishing touch to an açai bowl. Proponents of the powdery substance say it has tons of health-boosting benefits ranging from immune support to heart health. But how can you benefit from bee pollen, exactly?
What is bee pollen, anyway?
Bees collect pollen from flowering plants and mix it with digestive enzymes. They then transport this mixture, known as bee pollen, back to beehives and store it there as a source of food for the rest of the hive. The substance, along with other bee-related products like honey and beeswax, have long been collected and used as a natural health supplement.Because many of the studies supporting the potential benefits of bee pollen were performed on rodents, we don’t know how much those results apply to humans. “There aren't any benefits supported by a robust evidence base,” explains Ryan Andrews, R.D., of Precision Nutrition. That doesn’t mean bee pollen is useless, per se—it just means much more research is needed in order to establish definitive claims. But here's what we know so far:
What are the potential benefits of consuming bee pollen?
1. It's packed with nutrients.
Bee pollen is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Though the exact nutritional makeup of bee pollen depends on which plant the pollen was taken from, a 2012 analysis published in Molecules found that 22 samples of organic bee pollen collected in Portugal averaged 67.7% carbohydrate content, 21.8% crude protein, 5.2% crude fat, and 2.9% ash. The samples also contained substantial phenolic compounds, including flavonoids—the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University notes that flavonoids might be linked to vascular health, blood sugar control, and other health benefits.
2. It may help alleviate allergies.
3. It has anti-inflammatory properties.
4. It may be healing for your liver.
A 2016 study published in the Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences found that bee products, including bee pollen, helped rats heal from liver damage. Researchers think that this is linked to the antioxidant properties of bee pollen. A 2013 study, also performed on rats, found that bee pollen helped protect liver cells from oxidative stress and promoted cell healing.
5. Bee pollen may also help heal burns.6. It may have anti-cancer properties.
According to research published in Phytotherapy Research in 2007, bee pollen extract might cause prostate cancer cells to die. The research was conducted on isolated cells in test tubes rather than on humans or live animals, meaning that considerable further research is needed to see if bee pollen could help treat cancer.
6. It may have anti-cancer properties.
7. It can help lower your cholesterol.