Clover honey is popular due to its sweet, mildly floral taste.
Unlike other common sweeteners like table sugar, it’s rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that may benefit your health.
This article reviews the uses, nutrition, and health benefits of clover honey.
Origin and uses
Clover honey is a thick, sweet syrup made by honeybees that collect the nectar of clover plants. It’s mild in taste and light in color, making it a popular choice among honey enthusiasts.
Clover plants are very common, weather-hardy, and a preferred nectar source for honeybees, which is why clover honey is widely available (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
Clover honey has a more complex flavor than table sugar, and many people use it to sweeten tea, coffee, and desserts.
Additionally, due to an increasing interest in healthier alternatives to sugar, food manufacturers are offering more honey-sweetened foods and drinks (3Trusted Source).
Clover honey is also commonly used in cold and cough medicines and home remedies due to its unique health-promoting properties, including its antibacterial qualities and soothing effect on sore throats (4Trusted Source).
SUMMARYClover honey is a popular, widely available type of honey. It’s used as a sweetener and as a natural remedy for coughs and colds.
Clover honey nutrition
Clover honey is high in sugar but also provides some nutrients.
One tablespoon (21 grams) of clover honey contains (5):
Calories: 60 calories
Protein: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 17 grams
This type of honey is mostly carbs in the form of natural sugars. However, it also offers small amounts of different vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc (6).
What’s more, it’s rich in antioxidant compounds that can benefit your health (7Trusted Source).
SUMMARYClover honey mostly consists of natural sugars but contains different vitamins and minerals as well. It also packs health-boosting antioxidants.
Potential benefits of clover honey
Clover honey offers several potential health benefits.
Antiviral and antibacterial potential
Clover and other types of honey have antiviral and antibacterial effects.
In a study comparing the antibacterial capacity of 16 different types of honey, the clover variety had the strongest antibacterial action against harmful Staphylococcus aureus cells — equivalent to a 2.2 mg dose of the antibiotic kanamycin (8Trusted Source).
In addition, it’s an effective antibacterial dressing for wounds, such as burns and scratches, as bacteria cannot develop resistance to honey (9Trusted Source).
In one 3-month study in which clover honey was used as a dressing for 30 different diabetic foot wounds, 43% of wounds healed completely, and another 43% were significantly reduced in size and bacteria count (10Trusted Source).
Clover honey may be a potent antiviral as well.
One test-tube study found that applying a 5% clover honey solution to skin cells infected with the chickenpox virus significantly decreased the virus’s survival rate (11Trusted Source).
Keep in mind that fresh, raw honey may have stronger antibacterial properties than varieties that have been pasteurized or stored for a long period (12Trusted Source).
Rich in antioxidants
Clover honey is packed with antioxidants, which are compounds that can prevent or reduce cellular damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. This may lower your risk of diseases (7Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
In a rat study, clover honey extract reversed liver damage caused by free radicals, likely due to the extract’s antioxidant capacity (16).
Clover honey is particularly high in anti-inflammatory flavanol and phenolic acid antioxidants. Flavanols may improve heart and lung health, whereas phenolic acids strengthen your central nervous system (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Fewer downsides than table sugar
Though honey is mostly sugar, it has several unique benefits that make it a better choice than table sugar or other sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Some studies indicate that honey may be better for heart health and weight control than table sugar (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
In a 6-week study in 60 people consuming either 70 grams of honey or table sugar daily, people in the honey group had lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels (23Trusted Source).
In addition, a study in 80 children observed that a single dose of honey caused a smaller blood sugar response than an equal dose of table sugar — including in participants with type 1 diabetes (24Trusted Source).
However, though honey is healthier than table sugar, it’s still considered an added sugar and should be limited.
Diets high in added sugars — no matter the type — are associated with obesity and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
For optimal health, less than 5% of your daily calories should come from added sugars (28Trusted Source).
SUMMARYSome studies indicate that clover honey is antiviral and antibacterial. It’s also rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Yet, though it may be healthier than table sugar, it’s still an added sugar and should be consumed in moderation.
Comparison with other types of honey
The nutrient content, flavor, and color of honey depend on the type of nectar from which it is made, as well as processing and storage time.
Alongside clover honey, other light-colored and mild-tasting types include alfalfa, orange blossom, and wildflower honey. These varieties are similar in antioxidant content (29Trusted Source).
However, buckwheat and manuka honey, which are often used medicinally, are much darker in color and richer in flavor, which could be a result of their higher mineral and antioxidant content (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
Manuka honey, made from a plant native to New Zealand, is also prized for its powerful medicinal potential (32, 33Trusted Source).
Though it has more antioxidants than clover honey, one test-tube study found that 5% solutions of manuka and clover honey, respectively, were equally effective at stopping the spread of the chickenpox virus (11Trusted Source).
Nonetheless, if you’re using honey for medicinal purposes, you may want to choose a darker variety, such as buckwheat or manuka.
Unpasteurized and unfiltered raw honey of any kind is a healthy choice for many people, as it’s richer in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than pasteurized varieties (12Trusted Source, 34, 35Trusted Source).
It also contains pollen, which may offer benefits, such as stimulating your immune system, decreasing inflammation, and protecting your liver from free radical damage (36Trusted Source).
Raw honey, including from clover plants, can be purchased online and in stores. What’s more, locally harvested raw honey is available at many farmers’ markets.
Note that you should not eat raw honey if your immune system is compromised. Additionally, honey products should not be given to children under the age of one year due to the risk of serious illness (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
SUMMARYClover honey is one of several light-colored and mild-tasting types of honey. Darker varieties, such as buckwheat and manuka, are richer in antioxidants. Raw honey — including raw clover honey — may be more beneficial than processed honey.
The bottom line
Clover honey is a popular, light-colored, mild-tasting honey variety that provides various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
It may offer powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Though it’s slightly healthier than table sugar, it should be used in moderation.