Oh honey, you have come to the right article for a little sweetness that offers so much more than flavor! We are talking about the sticky goodness of honey !
Honey has been used since ancient times as a natural folk remedy for different ailments and conditions. Even some hospitals use sterile honey to treat wounds. The sweet, viscous liquid is made by none-other than the honeybee and more often we are hearing how endangered our precious bees are becoming. The future of honey may not be very bright and golden if the world cannot gain enough consciousness to look after the little buzzing insects that are using the nectar from flowers to make the delicious liquid. Why should we protect our honey sources and be conscious of enjoying honey in the future ? Honey is high in incredibly beneficial plant compounds and offers many different natural health benefits. So, what is the health benefits of honey you may ask? Let’s get a little sticky and dive right in !
Raw or Regular Honey?
For hundreds of years, many different cultures have used honey in traditional medicine, but the honey that is used for medicinal purposes is raw and not your conventional, pasteurized store-bought honey. A 2017 review on honey, and a 2015 review on bee pollen showed that bee pollen and bee propolis can offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Raw honey is believed to have more healthy elements in comparison to that of processed honey and comes straight from a beehive. It contains bee propolis and bee pollen and is loaded with antioxidants. Now, do not go raiding beehives just yet, research has not confirmed if raw honey is better than processed honey. Raw honey is only believed to be better because regular honey undergoes processing and pasteurization which is thought to diminish some of the natural elements that make the golden liquid so beneficial.
So, what honey is considered the best to use ? Definitely raw, unfiltered honey ! If you are interested in purchasing raw honey, then try a local and trusted producer. Or even better – get yourself some hives and produce your own (but we will cover this at a later stage).
Nutritional Composition of Honey.
One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar (including glucose, maltose, sucrose, and fructose). Honey contains almost no fiber, fat, or protein, and only trace amounts of several vitamins and minerals (under 1% of the recommended daily intake). Some of the vitamins found in honey include:
- – Ascorbic acid
- – Pantothenic Acid
- – Niacin
- – Riboflavin
The minerals found in honey include:
- – Calcium
- – Copper
- – Iron
- – Magnesium
- – Manganese
- – Phosphorus
- – Potassium
- – Zinc
Because the vitamin and mineral content is fairly low in one small serving, I would have to eat many pounds of honey to reach the recommended daily intake, so I supplement my diet with NON-GMO multivitamins and minerals. This means that I can enjoy all the benefits of honey whilst still consuming all the vitamins and minerals my body needs daily.
The Benefits of Honey
Lower Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a trigger point for diseases such as heart disease; high blood pressure may lead to heart disease and stroke. But, honey may have the power to step in and lower blood pressure. My father consumes raw honey daily and has seen a significant difference in his blood pressure levels which are now lower and more manageable. Buckwheat honey is used in traditional Russian medicine to help treat high blood pressure.
Studies have shown that honey contains a type of carbohydrate called oligosaccharides which offer an antioxidant effect and contributes to the ability of honey to help lower blood pressure. The sweet liquid also soothes blood vessels which helps reduce the pressure from the heart. Taking at least two tablespoons of honey a day, especially first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, will help relieve high blood pressure.
Improved Cholesterol Levels
High blood pressure may be one trigger for heart disease, but high levels of “bad” cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, are also a strong risk factor. High levels of LDL cholesterol may encourage atherosclerosis which is a fatty build-up in the arteries that can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Several studies have shown that honey can improve cholesterol levels because it reduces LDL cholesterol and increases HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
But is it that gives honey its beneficial punch against the fight of imbalanced cholesterol levels? Firstly, honey contains no cholesterol content itself, and more importantly, it contains calcium, potassium, and sodium. These minerals help combat “bad” cholesterol, whilst the high antioxidant content in honey is excellent for good health and for maintaining “good” cholesterol in the body. Go Honey!
Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Reliever
Honey contains substantial amounts of compounds such as flavonoids and other polyphenols which help to relieve pain and inflammation. In a recent study, results reported that honey reduced the activities of cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2, thus showing anti-inflammatory effects. With strong anti-inflammatory properties, and the ability to relieve some pain, honey is well-suited for those who suffer from arthritis. Arthritis is a disease in which the body’s joints are inflamed and honey has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for years as a remedy for the disease.
Manuka honey reduces joint inflammation for those suffering from arthritis and provides a natural form of pain relief too. To prepare, mix 2 tablespoons Manuka Honey and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder into 1 cup of warm green tea, consume this honey cinnamon drink daily in the morning and evening for relief against pain and inflammation.
Urinary Tract Health
I am one of the unfortunate people that suffer from bladder and urinary tract infections regularly and they are simply the worst ! As a young teenager, my mother would always offer me a teaspoon of cinnamon powder and half a teaspoon of honey in lukewarm water to help relieve my bladder infections. The cinnamon wasn’t tasty but the honey and water would wash that down quick enough.
Honey has antibiotic properties because of the enzyme, glucose oxidase. This enzyme in honey ensures a constant formation of hydrogen peroxide (a highly potent antiseptic) from sugars found in honey. This makes honey a natural antibiotic for treating urinary tract and bladder infections. Manuka honey has been shown to slow down the speed of bacteria growth that causes UTIs and the formation of biofilms (the thin layers that build up on surfaces and harbour infection).
Honey has been used for centuries to aid digestive problems such as diarrhoea, peptic ulcers, and acid reflux. It is a potent prebiotic which means that it nourishes the good bacteria in the gut and aids overall digestive health.
Acid reflux: Honey contains powerful antioxidants and phenols, as well as a host of phytonutrient compounds that help fight against free radicals in the body that cause damage to cells. Reflux may be caused by free radicals that damage the cells lining the digestive tract, since honey can remove free radicals, acid reflux may be relieved. Honey also reduces inflammation in the oesophagus and its smooth texture coats the mucous membranes of the oesophagus to contribute to longer-lasting relief from acid reflux.
Diarrhoea: To treat mild diarrhoea, consume a teaspoon of raw honey. A study of 150 children with acute gastroenteritis found that those children who received honey with oral rehydration solution had a higher recovery rate than those who didn’t. Remember, honey is not suitable for children under 1 because it may contain a bacterium that can lead to infant botulism.
Peptic ulcers: Honey has been proven to be effective against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria; this bacterium is a common cause of stomach ulcers. Manuka honey is highly effective against H. pylori because of its strong antimicrobial effects against the bacterium.
Honey contains glutathione, an antioxidant that helps fight off infection and strengthens the body’s immune system. It also contains Vitamin C which helps boost the immune system and is my go-to when I am feeling sick. What does this mean for us? Well, honey can be taken to boost the body’s immune system and maybe especially helpful when you have a cough or cold. Talking about having a cough, honey is a natural cough soother and research has shown that honey may be as, or more, effective as certain over-the-counter cough medicines. To relieve cough, take a teaspoon of raw honey and make sure you avoid other liquids.
Flavonoids and polyphenols that are present in honey act as powerful antioxidants that protect the structural integrity of the body’s tissues and cells and have the ability to neutralize free radicals to prevent damage to immune cells.
A Sticky Bottom Line
As long as a person is not allergic to bee pollen, then raw honey is generally a safe option and offers no side-effects. With that said, it is unsafe for babies under one years old and if it is consumed in excess, you may have a runny tummy. Honey has antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties. With so many amazing and natural benefits, how could anyone be “anti” honey? Try some raw honey the next time you are shopping for a whole lot of goodness in a small bottle, and ditch the bear look-alike bottles that granny has stuck to the back of a pantry shelf somewhere and leave me a comment below if you found the information helpful.
Until next time