Honey has been used for centuries. It was a sweetener and additive long before cane sugar became popular. There are reports of honey being used as a mead, or liquor in the late 1300s and early 1400s.
Today, we use honey on a daily basis and have gone so far as even synthetically to produce it. While honey makes a great sweetener, it also has some pretty cool health benefits. In this article, we will look at the health benefits of honey and answer the question: is honey good for you?
We will also examine where honey comes from, how it is made, and show you the health benefits, advice and precautions when eating raw honey. Continue to the full article below to learn everything you need to know about honey.
How Is Honey Made?
Honey production may be one of the world’s most interesting processes. Other than being synthetically produced by humans (which, has a much different taste and none of the health benefits of real honey) is only made from one source: bees.
Bees fly around to various plants and flowers collecting nectar. This nectar is stored in a separate stomach inside the bee as it mixes with enzymes. The bee will then regurgitate the nectar and enzyme mixture into another bee, where the storage, mixture, and regurgitation happen again. This process is repeated several times until the nectar has a more sticky and gooey property.
It is then regurgitated one last time into a honeycomb where the bees fan it with their wings to remove the air and water. What is left, is honey.
When you look in your cabinet and see your eight-ounce jar of honey, before you complain about the cost, remember that it takes over 60,000 bees flying over 1,000 miles each to produce enough nectar to make one pound of honey. That is more travel and processing than some humans do in a full year for their careers.
Honey has a rich golden color. However, you may notice that different brands of honey, even when labeled as pure, or raw honey, have variations of the golden color. This is because the color depends greatly on the type of flower the bees have collected the nectar from. Bees all over the country produce honey in various shades of gold.
What To Look For When Buying Honey
You can find honey just about anywhere, your local supermarket or grocer will probably be your first stop. However, you should know what you are looking for as well as what you expect to get from your honey.
Synthetic honey holds zero health benefits and has low if any, nutritional value. Human-made honey is generally just high fructose corn syrup with flavorings and colors added to make it appear and taste like real honey. Except for the low cost compared to real honey, there is no reason even to consider synthetic honey.
Pure honey is not the same as raw honey. In most stores, you will see the label says, pure honey. Even the ingredient list only has honey mentioned. While this is pure bees honey, it has almost zero health benefits.
Pure honey, also known as Grade A honey, or filtered honey, is heavily processed, long before it fills the bottle you take from the store shelf. If you continue reading the label, you will see that it is filtered, or processed, or both. This is still real bee honey, and it is pure. However, the processing and filtering remove most, if not all, of the health benefits that raw honey has.
If you are after honey as a sweetener, a flavoring or as an edible for sandwiches or to use in tea, store-bought filtered honey is fine. However, if you are going to purchase honey for the common health benefits, this honey won’t do much good.
You will need to look for raw, unfiltered honey. You will most likely not find this at your local supermarket, or stores like Walmart, Target or large chain grocery stores. If it is available, it will be most likely found in the organic section.
Instead, you should head to your local farmers market, natural stores like Trader Joe’s, or a local co-op. This honey is unfiltered and has not been processed. It will also help your local community, farmers, and beekeepers.
The main benefit though is that you will be eating honey that was made from local pollens, which, as I will explain in a moment, is the most beneficial to you.
Is Honey Good For You?
In most cases, honey is good for you. It not only acts as a natural sweetener, which can remove your reliance on processed sugars and high fructose corn syrup, but it will also aid in several factors depending on use.
As a general health concern, though, if you have insulin issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or are on medications for insulin resistance, you should stay clear of all sweeteners, including honey.
Honey should also not be given to children under two years of age. Their immune systems are still developing and raw, pure honey can contain pollens, enzymes and other chemical compounds such as botulism, which infants cannot yet fight off.
Raw honey is also very high in fructose. You get natural fructose from fresh fruits and vegetables as well as some other plant-based sources. Adding raw honey will increase your daily intake of fructose, which should remain below 25 grams per day.
What Are The Medicinal Benefits?
Just because honey is sweet doesn’t mean it can’t fight. There are several natural health benefits to honey that you may not be aware of.
- Allergies – Raw honey contains pollen. These pollens are in very low amounts however they are still recognized by our immune systems. Eating a tablespoon (for adults, children should have a teaspoon) of raw honey a day will actually build your immune system against pollen allergies. This is why buying local raw honey is beneficial; you will gain the tolerance for your local pollens, thus reducing allergic reactions when allergy season hits.
- Memory Boost – Honey helps the brain in a couple of different ways. First, it helps the brain absorb calcium, which is known to help brain function and improve memory. It also has antioxidants which are one of the best ways to increase brain power and health.
- Natural Energy – Fructose gives us a natural energy boost, without the downing side effects of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Even caffeine isn’t as effective as honey when it comes to boosting energy naturally.
- Dry Scalp Aid – Dry scalp and dandruff are common problems with humans. Honey is proven to help treat and prevent both. Not only will the antioxidants in honey help your hair shine and give volume, but using it as a conditioner (leaving it in a couple of hours) will reduce itching, flaking and burning due to dry scalp. In as little as two weeks with daily treatments, you can be flake free.
- Sleep Aid – Honey also helps you fall asleep and stay asleep better. The natural sweetness of honey causes our bodies to produce serotonin as a result of the increase in insulin levels. Our bodies convert serotonin into melatonin, which is a chemical that helps us fall asleep. Not only that, but honey also contributes to the production of tryptophan. This amino acid is converted to serotonin when it is in the brain, which then converts to melatonin, and aids in restful sleep.
- Cleans Wounds – Using raw honey as a topical ointment will also help small wounds heal faster. When applied to the skin, honey releases enzymes that produce hydrogen peroxide. This process cleans the wounds with antimicrobial properties.
Worth A Mention
There is one particular type of honey available that is unique. Manuka honey has all of the health benefits of the other raw honey types. However, it has something unique. Manuka honey is produced by bees that get their pollen from the Manuka bush flowers.
It has been studied, and scientifically backed, proving the antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can treat serious infections including MRSA as well as over 250 other bacteria that can cause serious conditions.
The one thing about Manuka honey is that no one knows what the ingredient that makes it so potent is. It has been given the name UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor.
While we may not know what the extra ingredient is, we do know it makes a powerful antioxidant. You can find Manuka honey online easily enough.
Honey has many wide and varied uses, and more are being discovered every day. It is also being used as a treatment for herpes outbreaks and even reducing acid reflux and as a skin moisturizer.