Health Benefits of Honey
How is Knowing about Honey Helpful?
Honey is a sweet-something that can be beneficial to your health when added to your daily diet. It is a natural sweetener, fat free, and cholesterol free. Honey can serve as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and probiotic (actually prebiotic) agent. A prebiotic helps to increase healthy bacteria in the digestive system.
Honey serves to help prevent many diseases and disorders, as well as soothe one's body when a condition already exists. It is important to start by understanding the basics of where honey comes from and which type of honey is best for the body, so you can make an educated decision about what is best for you. Throughout the following article, I will provide a brief description of how honey is made, as well as the difference between raw honey and store bought honey, as well as other interesting facts. Later, I will give you a description of honey's various uses and why many of these uses are stated to be of benefit.
How is Honey Made?
A hive of honeybees collect nectar from flowers to make honey. They extract the nectar from flowers with their tongue and store it inside their bodies. When they return to the hive, the worker bees take over the work. The worker bees break down the nectar's complex sugars into simple sugars and spread the nectar into the honeycomb. Over time, the nectar dries and becomes honey. The honey is then harvested by a beekeeper. The type (color/flavor) of honey produced depends on the flowers the honeybees are visiting. Dark honey is a heavier, fuller taste, while lighter honey is milder.
How is Raw Honey Different than Refined Honey?
Raw honey is slightly filtered, but remains at room temperature, which is important to retain it's nutritional and health value. It looks unclear and contains pollens, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Refined honey is excessively filtered. This requires the honey to be heated in the pasteurization process, which enables the filtration process to occur easily. This process creates the golden, clear look that we are familiar with seeing at stores. However, through this extreme filtration process, honey loses many of it's valuable nutrients that are sensitive to the high temperatures used.
Although most store bought honey loses some nutrients in the heating and filtration process, do you believe this refined honey is still healthy for you?
Nutrition Content of Honey
- 80% natural sugars from glucose and fructose
- 18% water
- 2% pollen, vitamins, minerals, and protein
Breakdown of vitamins and minerals found in honey:
- Vitamins - B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and amino acids
- Minerals - Calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, iron, zinc, sodium, and potassium
Note: Raw honey has better nutrition content than store bought honey. Additionally, testing performed by Food Safety News indicated that most honey found in stores does not contain any pollen; therefore, is not considered real honey. Stores focused on natural foods were found to have honey that contained the appropriate amount of pollen to be considered true honey.
Health Benefits of Honey (with a few recipes!)
- Cancer Prevention - Honey is thought to be anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, immune-boosting, and a healer of chronic ulcers and wounds, which are all areas involved in carcinogenesis (the beginning/creation of cancer).
- Heart Disease Prevention - lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides
- Athletic Performance - natural sugars give endurance and support speed
- Gastrointestinal Disorders and Ulcers - Honey is easily digested and counteracts stomach acidity.
- Cough Suppressant and Throat Pain - According to the Mayo Clinic, honey soothes the throat when mixed with tea or warm lemon-water. They also discovered that when two teaspoons of honey were given to children (older than one-year-old) before bedtime, nighttime cough was reduced.
- Eyesight - mixing 2 teaspoons of honey with carrot juice is suggested to improve eyesight that has been affected by long hours at a computer.
- Weight Loss - 1 teaspoon honey to about 2 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice every morning is said to speed up the metabolism or helps after large, greasy meals. It is also believed to help with cellulite.
- Impotence, Premature Ejaculation, and Involuntary Loss of Semen - Although it is not proven on humans and was used in an experiment on rats, honey was found to potentially increase testosterone and antioxidants. Recipe suggested: crushed onion fried in butter, mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey when stomach is empty over a couple of hours, or 1/2 teaspoon of ginger juice with a half-boiled egg and honey in the evening.
- Bladder Infection - 1 teaspoon honey with 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar once a day. The honey is for it antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal abilities and apple cider vinegar for the hostile environment (increased acidity) it creates, that bacteria does not thrive in. Also try 1 teaspoon of honey with 2 pinches of salt daily or 1 teaspoon honey and 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon in 1 cup of warm water (cinnamon destroys bacteria in the bladder).
- Bronchial Asthma - An inhalation treatment made from honey and distilled water/saline solution. You must see a doctor for the inhalation method. With the inhaler, you can take 120 grams of honey three times a day before meals.
- Diarrhea - To prevent diarrhea when going on a trip,1 teaspoon honey with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, one half hour before meals on days before the trip.
- Nausea - 1 teaspoon honey with 1 teaspoon lemon juice, drink slow or 1 Tablespoon crushed fennel seeds steeped in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes, adding honey for taste.
- Blood Sugar Regulation - Honey contains both fructose and glucose. Fructose helps glucose to be delivered to the liver. Glycogen is formed and used by organs such as the heart, red blood cells, brain, and kidneys. It allows organs to function better and for glucose to be removed, causing blood sugar to be lowered.
- Skin Wounds - When honey is mixed with water, it makes hydrogen peroxide, which is a mild antiseptic. It can be applied to cuts and wounds.
- Skin Growth - Raw honey applied to the skin can be used to promote new skin growth.
- Skin Health and Beauty - Honey contains mild Alpha Hydroxy Acids that encourage exfoliation of old skin cells, minimize lines and wrinkles, balance oily skin, increase elasticity, and stimulate the production of collagen. Apply honey to your face, as you would a facial mask. Leave on for approximately 15-20 minutes. Rinse off. Your face will feel soft and smooth! You can also add your own ingredients to the honey to enhance the exfoliation effect!
- Honey also improves blood circulation, reduces free radicals, and can reverse previous damage from free radicals.
- Finally, it holds moisture in the skin, so a honey mask will benefit the appearance of your facial skin.
***WARNING! I would like to mention, NEVER feed honey to an infant or child under the age of one-year-old. This is due to the risk of Botulism. These infants and children do not have an immune system that is developed enough to fight against the infection.
Additionally, the above recipes are suggestions. These recipes and directions should not replace seeing a doctor if you believe you have an illness. If you are diabetic, consult your doctor before using honey in your diet.
The Sweet Facts
Honey is as healthy as it is sweet! It can be used for prevention of disease and for making the ailments you already have feel better. It is a healthier alternative to regular sugar and can help balance your blood sugar at the same time.
Remember, honey is at it's best when it is raw. This natural honey can be found in stores that sell organic foods, health foods, or farmer's markets. If you do buy raw honey, be sure not to put it in hot teas or alcoholic beverages because the heat from these drinks will eliminate many of the nutrients and negate the benefits you are seeking. Do not heat or cook honey for the same reasons. It is acceptable to put honey in warm water and teas.
Be healthy and stay sweet!