Honey is truly the queen bee of sweeteners! It’s sweeter than sugar but with a ton of health benefits. Compared to the industrially refined granule stuff associated with obesity, diabetes, cancer, and a weakened immune system, raw honey is practically a superfood. Of course it’s no surprise that a food that’s found naturally in nature turns out to be healthy, even when it is almost pure sugar.
But that’s the clincher, honey isn’t pure sugar. When it’s raw, unfiltered, and minimally processed, honey contains a wealth of life giving nutrients. These nutrients are indicated by the various colors honey comes in, ranging from light amber to nearly black.
One of honey’s ingredients is propolis, which inhibits bacterial growth in the hive and is used by bees to strengthen the structural stability of their hive. It’s composed of pollen, resins, and essential oils from the plants and trees around the hive. Propolis has been found to reduce inflammation and have anti-bacterial and anti-tumor effects. The propolis in honey is thought to be one of the reasons honey is effective as a topical wound healer.
In addition to propolis, raw honey contains water, various amounts of vitamins and minerals, organic acids, amino acids, pollen, flavanoids (which are found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects), and beneficial probiotics. Overall, honey contains over a hundred different components, and while the amount of these nutrients in honey is small, their cumulative or synergistic effect seems profound.
Studies indicate that consumption of raw honey reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system, increases blood-levels of antioxidants, and may fight against some of the causes of cancer. On a more practical level, one study found that daily consumption of 70g of natural honey slightly decreased test subjects’ body-weights. Honey is also ergogenic (which means it enhances athletic performance). Its 1:1 fructose to glucose ratio activates the liver to store glycogen, which serves as an optimal source of quick energy for athletic activities like running or weight lifting.
In addition to the growing body of evidence indicating honey’s nutritiousness, honey is a nature-based food with a long history of use as both a food and medicine among thousands of cultures throughout the world. Some cultures, such as the Hadza, a hunting and gathering tribe in Tanzania, consume honey as up to 19% of their diet and have excellent health. So don’t let honey’s sugar content scare you off. It’s refined and processed sugar that we should be concerned about, especially considering that sugar consumption is increasing globally every year (in correlation with a global increase in cancer, obesity, and other first-world diseases). Currently, global honey production is about 1.2 millions tons per year, and while that might seem like a lot, it’s only about 1% of the total refined sugar production!
The next time you want to add a little extra sweetness to your tea, cereal, yogurt, or other foods, reach for raw honey instead of lifeless white sugar granules. There’s just one caveat, try not to heat the honey up too much – high temperatures can damage honey’s delicate nutrients.
“…eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.” Proverbs 24:13
Originally posted 2012-12-10 09:34:00.