As you scroll through your Instagram feed or TikTok For You page, you’re likely to see oatmeal, smoothie bowls, and even avocado toast sprinkled with golden pellets. Bee pollen has become a popular add-in for those looking for an extra wellness boost, with celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian even swearing by it. You might already be familiar with the health benefits of honey, which include supporting good gut health and fighting upper respiratory infections, but pollen comes with a different slew of perks.
“It’s something people take for its antifungal, antimicrobial, and immuno-stimulating properties, so that’s likely why it’s trending right now,” says Lisa Moskovitz, registered dietitian and CEO of NY Nutrition Group. While she says that it’s not a miracle cure—after all, no food or supplement is—it’s something you might consider if you’re looking for a potential boost to your immune system.
While research on bee pollen is still relatively limited, the findings are promising. Still, everything should be taken with a grain of salt, especially since some studies have been conducted in mice, not humans, Jackie Elnahar, registered dietitian, adds. That said, these are the potential benefits you might expect to see by adding this ingredient to your diet.
If you have a pollen allergy or are allergic to bees or bee products, it’s best to avoid bee pollen, as it has the potential to cause an allergic reaction. But when this isn’t a risk, it can potentially help alleviate allergy symptoms such as congestion, according to research published by the Journal of Dietary Supplements in 2009. “It’s been shown to help minimize histamine release,” explains Elnahar.
The amount of bee pollen you eat and how long you consume it can have an effect on any benefits you see, Moskovitz adds. She says that most studies have found the ideal measurement for potential benefits to be 20 to 40 grams daily—which is about 3 to 5 tablespoons (a considerable commitment). “If you’re going to try it, I’d say three months is a good timeframe to see if you can notice any effects from it,” she tells Health.
With regular consumption, you may see changes. “I used to have the worst allergies for years. Since taking bee pollen products, I don’t have any! Seriously. Try it,” wrote one Amazon shopper about Beekeeper’s Naturals bee pollen ($25; amazon.com). “This particular one works just as great and tastes better.”
As people look for ways to stay healthy during cold and flu season, they often look for all the support they can get—and bee pollen can offer just that. “When you have an immune response, bee pollen has been shown to help revert [your body] back to homeostasis, which means that your immune response is not as overactive,” Elnahar tells Health. Basically, this means that it can help regulate the immune system—a finding that was documented by an article published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in March 2016.
While a few tablespoons of bee pollen don’t make up for the proven benefits of a well-rounded diet, exercise, and sleep, it’s not a harmful supplement to try out if you’re looking for a little extra support.
Similarly, researchers have found that bee pollen has an anti-inflammatory mechanism. “We all go through periods of inflammation—sometimes it’s acute and sometimes it’s long-term and chronic,” Moskovitz explains. “Anti-inflammatory [ingredients] lessen the wear and tear on our body and can ultimately open up more potential for protecting against diseases that are products of inflammation, like diabetes and heart disease.” A paper published by the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2015 supports this finding.
Like Elnahar, Moskovitz stresses that this ingredient can only do so much—it’s more important to focus on your health holistically. But if your doctor deems bee pollen to be safe for you and you’re not pregnant or breastfeeding (which a volatile time for the body, so not the best time to introduce new things, Moskovitz explains), this buzzworthy ingredient may be a worthy contender to up the nutritional value of your morning smoothie or bowl of oatmeal. If you want to try it yourself, Beekeeper’s Natural’s raw bee pollen is sustainably sourced and has an almost perfect rating on Amazon.
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