Community Service Announcement – Is Bee Pollen a Superfood?

 Many foods have been claimed as superfoods, but are they really?                                                                             In many cases, foods have been labeled as a ‘superfood,’ allowing sellers to increase prices, though sometimes, these ‘superfoods’ hold the same amount of nutrients (or sometimes even less) as other foods, the only difference being that this non-superfood is sold for a much cheaper price. The following paragraphs are about the superfood ‘bee pollen,’ what nutrients are in it and what makes it a superfood in the marketing world.

Before being able to call a food super, it is necessary to know which nutrients are in the food, and the reason they have been called superfoods. To start with, in only 100 grams of bee pollen, there are 35.71g of carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are our main source of energy, and these are broken up between two groups: simple and complex carbohydrates. The simple carbohydrates are for short term energy use and the complex ones are for use over a longer period of time. However, consume too much carbohydrate and the nutrients in your body become unbalanced, leading to possible energy swings and weight gain.

Out of 100g, bee pollen also has 7.14g of fats, 16.07g of protein and 5g of fibre; one fifth of one’s daily value needed for fibre. As for the vitamins and minerals, there are not many different kinds, but those present are there in great amounts. There are 7mg of Sodium, 4.5mg of Iron and 27.9mg of Vitamin C, all in a single serving of 100g!

The daily value of Vitamin C needed is 60mg, meaning that with only 100 grams of bee pollen, you get nearly half your needed dose of Vitamin C in a day. Similarly, Iron has approximately a third of the daily value needed in only 100 grams of bee pollen.

Acting as an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps protect various cells “from the damage caused by free radicals.” Free radicals are compounds formed when the body converts the food we eat into energy. Vitamin C also helps the body create collagen, a protein which is used to heal wounds, as well as helping protecting the body from disease. Vitamin C helps the immune system work properly by absorbing iron from plant-based food.

As a comparison, I chose to set bee pollen against honey, to see if these two ‘bee-based’ foods have very different nutritional data. The nutritional information I found in bee pollen compared to raw honey is surprisingly contrasting! In 100g of both bee pollen and honey, the carbohydrates have a difference of 50.24g! Having 35.71g of carbs in bee pollen, raw honey has the immense amount of 80.95g! In fact, carbohydrates (nearly 90% of the honey’s nutrients) and sugars are the only two nutrients found in raw honey. 

I also decided to compare bee pollen with yellow peppers, a food I found is very rich in Vitamin C. Although the raw yellow peppers do not have many nutrients in each 100g, the quantity of Vitamin C has the huge amount of 183.5mg! However, as the daily value needed for Vitamin C is only 60mg, too many yellow peppers and you could get an overdose of this vitamin, which would potentially cause diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps. As for the rest of the nutrients in this vegetable, 92.02g of 100g in raw yellow peppers is water. So similarly to the comparison with honey, bee pollen is a better choice compared to yellow peppers as our bodies need a balance between nutrients, not just one food with a single nutrient.

There are really not many issues with this superfood: first of all, considering the amount of nutrients in even 100g, bee pollen can definitely be called a superfood. Also, the majority of sources are honest about the nutrients found in bee pollen, and I find the price very reasonable for what it is. 100g of bee pollen can be sold for 15 Australian dollars, just above 10 US dollars, and I think that a dollar per 10g is easily acceptable for a superfood. However, regarding safety issues, bee pollen can be dangerous if one is allergic to pollen. This could cause itching, lightheadedness, swelling, shortness of breath, or at its very worse :anaphylaxis, an extreme whole-body reaction that may lead to death. It is also discouraged to consume bee pollen for those in pregnancy, as it is thought to threaten the infant. Though this has not been confirmed and may not be the case all the time, it is still discouraged to avoid any troublesome situation.

As stated in the introduction, many foods are claimed to be superfoods. Now in view of all the above, I believe that bee pollen can be honestly labeled as a ‘superfood,’ and that it is not only a matter of marketing. I would therefore definitely recommend bee pollen versus raw honey, as we have seen that it holds a surprisingly huge amount of many various nutrients. In this honey, the only nutrients found are carbohydrates and sugar, meaning that for energy, you have it all, but what about all the other nutrients that helps your body function? In the same amount of bee pollen as honey, although honey holds over double the amount of carbohydrates (35.71g vs 80.95g), bee pollen also has protein, fats, fibre, Vitamin C, sodium and iron! This is a matter of decision making towards a more balanced diet.

 

Sources

“Bee Pollen.” The Happy Herb Shop. Happy Herbs Company, 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

“BEE POLLEN: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings.” WebMD. WebMD, 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients).” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 20 Aug. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

“Full Report (All Nutrients): 45009445, ORGANIC RAW HONEY, UPC: 726635121278.” USDA Branded Food Products Database. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

“Full Report (All Nutrients): 45027332, UNCLE HARRY’S NATURAL PRODUCTS, WESTERN WASHINGTON BEE POLLEN, UPC: 760286610316.” USDA Branded Food Products Database. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

“Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 June 2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

2011-2017, (c) Copyright Skillsyouneed.com. “What Are Carbohydrates?” SkillsYouNeed. N.p., 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Whitbread, Daisy. “Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin C.” HealthAliciousNess. HealthAliciousNess, 18 Nov. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

 

One thought on “Community Service Announcement – Is Bee Pollen a Superfood?

  1. While I disagree with your conclusions (it’s a lot easier to eat 100g of bell peppers than 100g of pollen, and is much, much cheaper), your information is accurate and well presented!

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