Honey 101: Importance as a superfood

Since the dawn of time, honey has consistently been an all-around thought of, glorified superfood – “a blessing from Heaven”. People of yore used equivalent words nectar and the food of the divine to depict honey and its recuperating properties. This was not without the explanation.

Honey and its forms

Both raw and pasteurized forms of honey are available. Raw honey is removed from the hive and bottled directly, and as such will contain trace amounts of yeast, wax, and pollen. Consuming local raw honey is believed to help with seasonal allergies, due to repeated exposure to the pollen in the area. Pasteurized honey has been heated and processed to remove impurities. Honey is a sweet liquid made by bees using the nectar from flowers. It is graded by colour, with the clear, golden amber honey often fetching a higher retail price than the darker varieties.

The flavour of a particular type of honey will vary based on the types of flower from which the nectar was harvested.

Honey for Health Regime

Loaded with therapeutic properties, honey has been used for skincare and well-being since ages. Its benefits vary from lowering blood sugar levels to aiding in weight-loss. This is the reason instead of sugar, weight-watchers foods that contain raw honey.

Honey’s natural antibacterial qualities are well known. In the hive, as the original nectar dehydrates and is converted into what we know as honey, small amounts of antiseptic hydrogen peroxide are produced. Because hydrogen peroxide has antibacterial qualities, honey has traditionally been used as topical medication and is currently used to promote healing and prevent infection in skin wounds, burns, and ulcerations, including surgical wounds, pressure sores, diabetic foot ulcers, and various types of leg ulcers.

The vitality of Honey:

Honey contains glucose, fructose and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulphur, iron and phosphate. Thus, replacing it with sugar provides several health benefits and keep blood sugar level under control.

Honey also contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3. These vitamins may vary according to the quality of nectar and pollen. Also, a small amount of copper, iodine, and zinc exist in honey. And all these nutrients are essential for our well-being.

Honey is many things to many people. It’s a nutritious, natural sweetener, a concentrated energy source, and an ancient folk remedy for health and healing. Honey is also an active ingredient in beauty and skin-care products and the subject of medical research. What exactly is this sweet, syrupy superfood, and how can it help you?

Nutrition value of Honey

Nutritionally speaking, raw honey contains very small amounts of a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and disease-fighting antioxidants that, theoretically, make it more healthful than granulated white sugar (table sugar).

But honey is mostly a combination of glucose and fructose — some of the same sugary substances that make up white sugar (though in varying proportions) — as well as other liquid sweeteners from natural sources, such as agave and maple syrup. Compared with granulated sugar, honey is sweeter, higher in calories, and higher in carbs and total sugars.

One tablespoon (tbsp) honey, equal to 21 grams (g), provides about 60 calories and 17 g carbohydrates (16 to 17 g from sugar), while 1 tbsp granulated sugar provides 49 calories and 13 g carbohydrates (13 g from sugar).

Honey: An Antibiotic

When modern antibiotics were developed, the medicinal use of honey fell out of favour. But with the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in recent decades, researchers are looking anew at honey’s antibacterial qualities. Because bacteria do not generally seem to develop resistance to honey, it has therapeutic potential for use as a broad-spectrum antibiotic (one that can treat different types of infections). Just be sure to follow your doctor’s orders. This potential benefit doesn’t trump the known benefits of modern medicine.

Honey is the subject of ongoing research as a potential ingredient in supplements and medications that could be used to treat a wide range of health issues, including asthma, gum disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, diarrhoea, fungal infections, inflammation, internal and external ulcerations, viruses, and even certain types of cancer.

Because most experiments to date have been performed on laboratory animals and in Petri dishes, using specially prepared, medical-grade honey, it’s not yet clear if or exactly how honey can be used successfully by people for most of these conditions. If future research confirms honey’s effectiveness in humans, scientists will also need to determine which types of honey are potent enough to have a medicinal effect and, when taken orally, how much honey is effective for different conditions.

Honey as a remedy

Traditional Indian Ayurveda medicine, sometimes incorporated into alternative and complementary medical practices in the United States and other Western countries finds many uses for honey as a home remedy. These include mixing 2 parts lime juice with 1part honey to use as a gargle for sore throats and mixing an equal amount of honey and ginger juice for use as a cough syrup. Ayurveda practitioners may have been among the first to use honey as a topical remedy for burns, cuts, and various forms of dermatitis and eczema.

Honey holds promise as an anti-cancer agent and a preventative for heart disease because it contains high levels of antioxidants that fight oxidative stress and inflammation, which underlie many cancers and cardiovascular disease.

So, think of honey as you would blueberries, broccoli and other cruciferous veggies, nuts, grapes, dark green veggies, tea and whole grains: Eating a mix of healthy powerhouse foods can only help your body fight disease.

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