This sweet, rich, golden liquid definitely reflects its name. Honey, which you can put on just about anything from toast to yogurt to pancakes, or as a sweetener for teas, is packed with powerful benefits. One of the oldest medicines known to man, honey has been used in the treatment of respiratory diseases, skin ulcers, wounds, urinary diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, eczema, psoriasis, and even dandruff. The key point to remember with honey is that its antioxidant ability can vary widely depending on the floral source of the honey and its processing. The process begins when bees feast on flowers and collect nectar in their mouths. The bees mix the nectar and enzymes in their saliva to turn it into honey, which is then stored in combs in the hive. The constant movement of the bees’ wings promotes moisture evaporation and yield the thick honey we enjoy. There are more than three hundred kinds of honey in the United States, such as clover, buckwheat, and orange blossom. Light-colored honeys are generally mildly flavored, while dark honeys are more robust.
- Honey can inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses
- Honey contains at least 181 known substances, and its antioxidant activity stems from the phenolics, peptides, organic acids and enzymes
- Honey also contains salicylic acid, minerals, alpha-tocopherol, and oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides increase the number of “good” bacteria in the colon, reduce levels of toxic metabolites in the intestine, help prevent constipation and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure
- Honey helps to maintain optimal blood sugar levels
- Honey’s most important health-promoting benefit is its antioxidant ability
Here are some easy-to-make recipes at home:
- A super after-school snack is a sliced apple or pear drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.
- Some fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts have quite a lot of sugar. Make your own version by adding a bit of honey and some fresh fruit to nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt.
- Make a honey-mustard salad dressing by mixing a few tablespoons each of honey with Dijon mustard, a drizzle of lemon juice and about a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil. Delicious served on peppery greens like arugula.
Make sure when choosing honey that you choose raw honey, not the stuff that comes in the bear-shaped bottle!
Contributor: Dr. Gregg Baron
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by Health Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. None of the information presented is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.