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The Scoop on Bee Pollen

And the media keeps buzzing about bee pollen! Celebrities and foodies are all sprinkling this so called “superfood” on their morning breakfasts or adding it to their smoothie bowls, so should we get our hands on this latest supplement flying off the shelves? Here’s the much needed scoop…Slide1

Simply said, bee pollen is the pollen from flowers collected by bees. The flower pollen is mixed with bee saliva that is then carried to the hive and is used to nourish bee larvae. So if you thought you’d be adding some healthy bee parts to your meal, then a much needed biology class is in order! The endless benefits listed by advocates include:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Holds anti-ageing properties
  • Increases performance
  • Increases sexual function and the list goes on and on…

In terms of its nutritional benefits, there are claims that it is an excellent source of protein with a vast array of vitamins and minerals, boosting its antioxidant profile. The exact nutritional composition of bee pollen can be tricky as  it all depends on the type of flower it has been collected from. Now, why would I resort to bee pollen for protein and getting my dose of vitamins?  Looking for the evidence or lack of was quite interesting and below are some quotes that I have come across:

“Some bee pollen products marketed for weight loss have been found to contain hidden and potentially dangerous ingredients that may be harmful for people who have conditions such as irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and bipolar disorders.” Gary Coody, R.Ph., FDA’s National Health Fraud Coordinator

“In addition, many bee pollen weight loss products are marketed as dietary supplements with claims to treat or prevent a variety of diseases and signs or symptoms of disease, including obesity, allergies, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. By law, dietary supplements may not claim to treat or prevent a disease. ” FDA consumer update

The so called clinical studies that were conducted in attempt to support its benefit were unfortunately weak and lacking any evidence to prove the widespread claims.  Some studies have even reported adverse side-effects such as anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction causing your airways to become narrow affecting your breathing), kidney failure and liver damage. These may be a number of extreme cases but hey, if such cases exist, then I won’t be humming away  “a spoonful a day keeps the doctor away” mantra. In fact, I would have them on speed-dial. 

Bottom line is, bee pollen is another classical example of supplements with unsubstantiated claims and should be simply be left to the bees! If it’s weight loss you’re after, then consult an accredited dietitian and not Barry the bee to help you reach your goals through eating real food! 

 

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