Discover the health benefits of one of the oldest sweeteners on earth, plus some interesting trivia, some great recipes and a few cautions.
Bees swallow, digest and regurgitate nectar to make honey; this nectar contains almost 600 compounds. We need our bees, so let’s do everything we can to save them and keep them here on this earth.
Honey is so good we have included it in our list of powerfoods that should be in your kitchen right now.
“My son, eat thou honey, for it is good” — King Solomon – Proverbs: 24:13
1. Prevent cancer and heart disease:
Honey contains flavonoids, antioxidants which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.
2. Reduce ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Recent research shows that honey treatment may help disorders such as ulcers and bacterial gastroenteritis. This may be related to the 3rd benefit…
3. Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-fungal:
“All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide,” said Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.
4. Increase athletic performance.
Ancient Olympic athletes would eat honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. This has now been verified with modern studies, showing that it is superior in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time than other sweeteners.
5. Reduce cough and throat irritation:
Honey helps with coughs, particularly buckwheat honey. In a study of 110 children, a single dose of buckwheat honey was just as effective as a single dose of dextromethorphan in relieving nocturnal cough and allowing proper sleep.
6. Balance the 5 elements:
Honey has been used in ayurvedic medicine in India for at least 4000 years and is considered to affect all three of the body’s primitive material imbalances positively. It is also said to be useful useful in improving eyesight, weight loss, curing impotence and premature ejaculation, urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, diarrhea, and nausea.
Honey is referred as “Yogavahi” since it has a quality of penetrating the deepest tissues of the body. When honey is used with other herbal preparations, it enhances the medicinal qualities of those preparations and also helps them to reach the deeper tissues.
7. Blood sugar regulation:
Even though honey contains simple sugars, it is NOT the same as white sugar or artificial sweeteners. Its exact combination of fructose and glucose actually helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. Some honeys have a low hypoglycemic index, so they don’t jolt your blood sugar. Watch this video Sweetener Comparison where I compare stevia, brown rice syrup, honey, molasses and agave, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each.)
8. Heal wounds and burns:
External application of honey has been shown to be as effective as conventional treatment with silver sulfadiazine. It is speculated that the drying effect of the simple sugars and honey’s antibacterial nature combine to create this effect.
Some varieties of honey possess large amounts of friendly bacteria. This includes up to 6 species of lactobacilli and 4 species of bifidobacteria. This may explain many of the “mysterious therapeutic properties of honey.”
10. Beautiful skin:
Its anti-bacterial qualities are particularly useful for the skin, and, when used with the other ingredients, can also be moisturizing and nourishing! For a powerful home beauty treatment for which you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already, read Carrot Face Mask.
Different honeys have different flavonoid profiles, depending on the floral source of the nectar.
Types of Honey (most popular)
- Orange Blossom
There are at least 40 types – each one has distinctive taste and unique properties.
Darker honey tends to have higher antioxidant levels.
Monofloral honey (honey from a single plant species) usually has the lowest glycemic index (GI). For example, locust honey from the Black Locust tree has a GI of 32. Clover honey, which is used commercially, has the highest glycemic index at 69.
If you want to get the goodness from your honey, make sure it is pure and raw.
Raw honey contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes not present in refined honey.
- Best not to feed to infants. Spores of Clostridium botulinum have been found in a small percentage of honey in North America. This is not dangerous to adults and older children, but infants can have a serious reaction of illness in the first year. Do not add honey to baby food or use as a soother to quiet a fussy or colicky baby. Most Canadian honey is not contaminated with the bacteria causing infant botulism, but it’s still best not to take the chance.
- Honey is a sugar, so do not eat jars full of it if you value your good health and want to maintain a healthy weight. It has a high caloric value and will put you on a sugar high and low.
To cook with honey or not: There is some controversy about cooking with honey, although I cannot substantiate it from all of my research about honey.
“…when honey is heated above 108 degrees Fahrenheit, it becomes transformed into a glue-like substance that is extremely difficult to digest. This substance is considered a toxin (ama), since it adheres to the tissues of the body and is very difficult to remove.” (quote from the Ayurveda Wellness Center)
That said, I am not convinced that we should not cook with honey, although I am not using it in most of my cooked recipes until I get to the bottom of this.
I love my homemade dandelion flower pancakes topped with these healthy syrups (below).
Honey Syrup: the goodness and taste of both honey and molasses.
Orange Honey Syrup: healthier than sugar-based syrups with an orange zing!
Dandelion Flower Syrup: combining the goodness of honey with another powerfood: dandelions.
Peanut Butter Bliss Balls: Recipe created in my hippy days in the 70s—they are yummy!
Mango Squares: mmmmangos yum!
Oatmeal Cinnamon Porridge & Sultanas: with a little honey for breakfast.
Dandelion Tea: for any time with a dash of honey.
Sugarless Date Squares: Not so sweet as the usual ones.
7 Tips to Avoid Sugar Cravings
Eating honey is a more healthy choice than white sugar but that doesn’t mean you can eat all you want. Learn how to reduce your sugar cravings at 7 Tips to Avoid Sugar Craving
Also if you really want to get in control of your sugar intake, take in one of our many Health Web BootCamps. You get specific shopping lists and pre-planned meals for 3 days and the knowledge and support to really feel confident about your food choices and cooking mastery.
About Diana Herrington
I am the Founder and Author at Real Food For Life. Have been teaching cooking classes worldwide since 1982. Create original, healthy recipes and menus, which are gluten free and white sugar free. Also, the author of the GREEN means LEAN and Balance Your Body e-books. I turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar free, gluten free eating and cooking.