Honey - White Sugar Substitute That Is Healthy And Natural
What is in honey?
Honey is considered as one of the super foods available from nature. It is a healthy alternative to white sugar and it has many medicinal uses as well as culinary uses.
Honey has been used by people from a very long time. It is a good sweetener with about 70% of fructose and glucose and the remaining is made up of water and important nutrients.
The vitamins in honey include B6, Thiamin, Niacin, riboflavin, amino acids and pantothenic acid. The minerals found in honey are calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper and phosphorus. Honey is also rich with healthy antioxidants.
Why is honey a better choice than white sugar?
As I mentioned above, honey is mainly made up of fructose, glucose, water and other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. White sugar is made up of sucrose and it doesn't have water content or nutrients in it. The sucrose in honey is very little compared to the sucrose in white sugar.
Honey also has some protein and amino acids present in it, while white sugar has none of it.
Fructose and glucose are simple sugars while sucrose is fructose and glucose linked together. Sucrose content is high in white sugar which is more easily absorbed to blood causing blood sugar to rise fast.
Hence honey is a better choice, but I would say anything in moderation is the best.
Honey Is So Precious
As we all know, honey is produced by honey bees. Honey is precious because the bees really have to work very hard to produce honey. In fact 12 bees have to work hard for their entire lifetime to produce a teaspoon of honey.
You can set up a honey bee hive for yourself if you wish, which will help you get the pure honey. If you set up a hive, try to include honey bee friendly plants like dandelions or clovers in your garden.
Read more about honey varieties in this book
Other Uses Of Honey
Honey is believed to have antibacterial properties and it is considered a natural antibiotic with healing properties. In many traditions, honey has been used from a long time to treat minor burns and wounds. Honey is also one of the best natural remedies for cough.
Recently researches have shown that bees add a protein from their immune system to honey and this protein called defensin-1 may be helpful to develop new drugs to treat burns and antibiotic resistant infections.
Adding Honey To Food
I love adding honey to my food. I usually add a teaspoon of sweet honey to my morning tea and also as a topping for home made pancakes. It also goes great as a spread for bread. I love having a slice of bread topped with nuts and honey, this usually satisfies my sweet tooth.
There is a controversy regarding using honey for cooking. It is said that if you heat honey, it turns slightly toxic and hence it is not advisable for cooking. However there is no scientific proof for this.
Even though honey is a healthy choice compared to white sugar, it is still a sweetener with 304 calories per 100 grams. You can always try adding honey moderately to your food for receiving its benefits. Honey is not advisable for diabetic patients and infants.
It is best to store honey in airtight containers at room temperature. Extreme cold and hot temperatures may cause the texture and color of honey to change.
It is said that honey can be stored for a very long time. Long time back, people stored natural honey in sealed jars for years. But this is mostly true for raw and natural honey which is never heated. The processed honey that we get in markets are usually filtered and heated to high temperatures. Natural, pure and raw honey retains most of the nutrients and this may be available from local beekeepers. However raw honey is more prone to crystallization due to the presence of pollen and other particles. Crystallization happens when glucose separates from the water content in honey. Crystallized honey is safe to use although it may affect the taste.
Botulism In Honey And Infants
Honey is a known source of Clostridium botulism or C .botulinum and hence honey may cause infant botulism. Infant botulism mainly affects the digestive tracts of infants and it can be dangerous. So you should never give honey to babies less than 1 year of age. However, children more than 1 year old are not found to be affected with botulism from honey.