What if you found out that with one little sprinkle of a supposedly magical superfood on top of your oatmeal, yogurt parfait, or smoothie bowl, you could be bettering your body inside and out? Well, according to some wellness experts, that's exactly why everyone's buzzing — pun intended — about bee pollen's reported benefits.
As you may have gleaned from its name, bee pollen is created naturally when the insects are gathering pollen from plants. Once carried back for storage in the hive, the pollen is mixed with a minute amount of saliva and honey to create a potent, nutrient-rich food source that recently has become recognized for what it can possibly do for humans as well. In fact, bee pollen's benefits are said to be incredibly wide-ranging — from giving you a caffeine-free energy boost to reducing your seasonal allergies and asthma.
What makes bee pollen the hottest new superfood is the fact that it's reportedly packed with a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Therefore it's a great addition to your diet to supplement the nutrients you might not otherwise be getting enough of. As Carly Stein of Beekeeper's Naturals explains, "Bee pollen is incredible — it’s one of nature’s most balanced and nourishing foods. For starters, each golden granule contains over 250 biologically active compounds. It’s highly dense in nutrients — vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, proteins, and amino acids." Nutritionist and founder of the Soul Wellness Method, Shauna Faulisi seconds this notion, calling out pollen for its well-rounded "nutrient profile that includes B vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and protein."
That said, it's important to note that some of bee pollen's benefits haven't been fully proven, so not every wellness expert is completely sold on the trend. "Bee pollen definitely has a health halo around it right now," says Mascha Davis, registered dietician nutritionist, who says she backs superfoods with significant scientific research behind it. She explains that, at the moment, this is not the case for pollen. "It's said to help your immune system and contain antioxidants and nutritive compounds, but research doesn’t support a ton of these claims. Most of the studies have been on animas and test tubes."
Faulisi also advises to pay attention to nutrition labels when picking a bee pollen product. "When purchasing bee pollen, it’s important to look for pesticide-free labeling," she says. "Bees can fly up to six miles away to reach their nectar source, so you want to be sure you’re purchasing from areas that are pristine."
Even so, there are definitely those out there that swear by pollen and its effects on the body, so if you want to give it a go and decide for yourself, here are some things to look out for. Ahead, find a handful of benefits you might get from a daily dose of bee pollen. (Be aware that not all these benefits have substantial scientific proof to support them, so make sure you consult with a doctor before testing out any new wellness or health supplements.)
Super-powered bee pollen may just help stave off illness, since it can help combat nutrient deficiencies. "It’s often considered an immunity booster, and local pollen helps reduce histamines which can help with seasonal allergies," says Faulisi. A 2014 study by Food and Chemical Toxicology found antimicrobial activity in all eight samples of commercial bee pollen researched (some samples more than others). "Studies have also suggested that bee pollen has powerful germ-fighting properties, which is a major plus when it comes to fighting off the sniffles," adds Stein.
The secret to why consuming bee pollen may give you a boost of energy has to do with its high protein content. "The amino acid content of bee pollen is particularly impressive, as it contains all 22 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein," Stein says. "It also contains more protein per gram than any animal source. About half of these are free-form amino acids, which means they are easily absorbed by the body and ready for immediate utilization. That’s why bee pollen is such a powerful energizer (and why so many hardcore athletes swear by it for a performance boost)." That said, consider adding a scoop to your morning smoothie to really rev up your workout.
More Radiant Skin
Bee pollen's antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties are also great news for your complexion. "Our skin gets bombarded with environmental stress day after day, whether it’s from the sun or environmental pollutants or stress," Stein explains. "Fortifying our diets with plenty of antioxidants can help to mitigate and counteract some of that damage and prevent symptoms of premature aging."
And besides helping skin's texture and elasticity, this superfood might even help with acne. "Bee pollen’s germ-fighting effects also go a long way towards keeping skin blemish-free," she continues.
"It might seem counterintuitive but this allergen can actually help with allergies in certain situations," Stein says. "[Some research has shown] that bee pollen possesses an anti-allergenic that actually hinders the activation of mast cells during early and late phases of allergic reactions."
That said, this "desensitization" should always be handled carefully and incrementally. "Always be careful when using bee pollen to help with allergies and start with very small amounts (legitimately a granule) and build up from there if all goes well," she suggests.
Bee pollen's anti-inflammatory properties make it a great tool for soothing digestive issues — among a whole list of other things both internally and externally. "Bee pollen may protect your liver against toxicity. According to Stein, liver and heart health might also get a boost from regular consumption of the superfood.