Honey is a natural sugar made by bees using the nectar from the flowers. It has been used since time immemorial by the countless cultures all over the world to treat a variety of ailments. There is no region in the world where honey is not used. Honey is known by different names in different parts of the world. Some common names include shahad, Honing and Miel.
Types of honey:
There are more than 40 types of honey, each carrying distinctive taste and properties. The type of honey varies according to the flavonoids profiles and floral source of the nectar. Honey of darker shade is believed to contain higher antioxidant levels. Some common types of honey include:
- Orange blossom
Honey is composed of
- 38.2% fructose
- 31.3% glucose
- 7.1% sucrose
- 17.2% water
- 1.5% higher sugars
- 0.2% ash
- Others 3.2%
Honey contains a chock full of nutrients and minerals. It is a good source of vitamin B2, B6, copper, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and other important minerals. It also contains high levels of antioxidants, phytochemicals and flavonoids.
Health benefits of honey:
Honey is not just a taste bud pleasing food, but also has a range of benefits in its kitty. In fact, the benefits of honey are also documented in major religious scriptures. Ancient Egyptians would make offerings of honey to God. It has been used in the Ayurveda medicine for more than 4000 years. Honey is believed to affect all the three primitive material imbalances of the body by penetrating the deepest tissues. Some health benefits of honey include:
Honey contains simple carbohydrates and glucose that get absorbed easily by the body, providing you with an instant energy. Take a spoon of honey before working out to exercise for longer times. Honey spread on toast will also give you a refreshing source of energy.
Honey is a low glycemic index food and hence, can be safely consumed by the diabetics. The combination of glucose and fructose in honey help to regulate the blood sugar levels and prevent insulin spike. Unlike refined sugar, honey does not raise the blood sugar levels.
Honey possesses anti-cancer properties, which reduce the risk of cancer in humans. The antioxidants and flavonoids present in honey eliminate the free radicals in the body, preventing the growth of cancerous tumors.
4. Treat wounds and burns:
As mentioned earlier, honey has been used to treat burns, wounds and cuts since centuries. It is believed to be as effective as conventional treatment with silver sulfadiazine. The anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties of honey inhibit the growth of bacteria in the wound, thereby preventing infections. The glucose present in honey, when topically applied on the wounds, dilutes releasing hydrogen peroxide. It deodorizes malodorous wound and accelerates the healing process by stimulating wound tissues. The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of honey reduce the pain, swelling and scarring of the wounds.
5. Sore throat remedy:
Honey is a natural remedy for cough, yeast infection and sore throat. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties kill the bacterial infection that cause sore throat. Mix one teaspoon of honey with warm water and drink twice a day to soothe the inflammation. Alternatively, mix 2 teaspoon of honey with 4 teaspoons of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Gargle with this concoction twice a day to soothe sore throat.
6. Heart health:
Honey is very effective in reducing the high levels of low-density lipoprotein, one of the major causes of coronary heart diseases. Low-density lipoprotein, also known as bad cholesterol, blocks the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis. Taking honey with cinnamon revitalizes the arteries and veins of the heart, reducing cholesterol by almost 10%. A regular consumption of honey also raises high-density lipoprotein, lowering the risk of heart diseases.
7. Stomach health:
Honey is extremely beneficial for digestion. Taking one teaspoon before meals will effectively alleviate digestive problems like indigestion and stomach pain. Taking honey with warm water can help you treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Honey shortens the duration of bacterial diarrhea in infants and young children.
8. Dental health:
Honey prevents the buildup of plaque in the mouth and gums, promoting dental health. It also clears the germ build up from the gums, combating bad breath.
9. Weight loss:
Honey is a natural ingredient for weight loss. It contains 22 amino acids that boost metabolism, helping you burn calories. Honey taken with cinnamon is an excellent anti-cellulite treatment. It flushes out the toxins and fat from the body, giving you a lean and slim body. Honey mixed with lemon and water can help you with weight loss.
10. Sleep better:
Honey can also help treat insomnia or sleeplessness. Take a glass of warm milk mixed with a teaspoon of honey every night to induce sleep. Honey mixed with chamomile tea can also give you a peaceful sleep.
11. Immune system:
Honey is a powerful immune booster. Raw and organic honey is loaded with minerals, vitamins and enzymes that protect the body from bacteria, enhancing the immune system. Honey decreases the body’s response to histamines, making it an effective tool for preventing allergies. The antioxidants present in honey neutralize the free radicals, protecting you from several diseases. Start your day with water mixed with honey and lemon juice to give your immune system a surge. Alternatively, add 2 teaspoons of honey to warm and drink on an empty stomach.
12. Cold and flu:
Common cold and flu symptoms like coughs, sore throat and nasal congestion can be kept at bay when treated with honey. The slightly acid pH level of honey helps to prevent the growth of cold and flu causing virus in the body.
Honey contains a mix of sugar that speeds up the oxidation of the liver by the liver, helping you cure hangover. Take 15 ml of liquid honey with 80 ml of orange juice and 70 ml of yogurt. Blend all the ingredients together until it acquires a smooth consistency. Take this mixture early morning to cure hangover.
14. Therapeutic properties:
Honey possesses large amounts of friendly bacteria. It is composed of up to six species of lactobacilli and four species of bifid bacteria. This provides therapeutic properties of honey.
15. Beautiful skin:
The antibacterial properties of honey make it very effective for treating acne and boil. Honey is an excellent natural moisturizer. Its moisturizing properties can treat skin conditions like ringworm, psoriasis and eczema. Dab some organic honey directly to the blemishes and leave it overnight to let the skin absorb its medicinal properties. Wash it off in the morning with milk. This will give you a clear and smooth skin.
16. Blood formation;
Honey has positive effects in regulating and facilitating blood circulation. It supplies the body with ample energy for blood formation. Honey also helps in cleansing the blood.
Honey is also effective in treating ulcer. The sugar in honey absorbs water to trap the moisture, preventing the growth of bacteria and other microbes. It has also shown promising results in treating mouth sores caused due to the radiation therapy in people suffering from cancer.
Honey can help build stamina in athletes and marathon runners. The natural sugars present in honey boost endurance and combat muscle fatigue in the athletes. Taking honey before important athletic events will replace all the carbohydrates and minerals spent during the activity. It acts as an energy drink replacing the minerals we lose through sweat.
19. Allergies and infections:
Honey is also useful for minimizing seasonal allergies. In fact, honey also beats cough medicine in reducing the frequency of cough. Honey also kills the bacteria that lie in a protein called defensin-1 by destroying the key bacterial protein. Honey is also an effective treatment for MRSA infections. Manuka honey is very effective in treating wound infections. It prevents it from developing in the first place. Pure honey kills bacteria three times more efficiently than artificial honey.
Honey can be integrated in a variety of dishes. It is an excellent substitute for white sugar. You can eat honey directly or spread on a toast or bread like a jam. Mix two teaspoons of honey with water and add some lemon juice to it to make a refreshing drink.
- Honey should not be fed to infants and children. It contains a small percentage of Clostridium botulinum, which is not suitable for infants. Do not add honey to baby foods.
- Honey is a sugar and a calorie-laden food so consume in moderation if you are following a weight loss diet.
- Do not cook honey. It transforms into a glue like substance if heated above 108 degrees Fahrenheit. This glue is considered a toxin, as it adheres to the tissues of the body.
Honey is best stored in cool and dark place. Newly harvested honey is the most preferred form of honey. The color of the honey is a useful tool to judge its quality. Light colored honey is more preferred and valued as it has a delicate flavor. Honey, when stored for longer duration, turns darker in color. It loses some of its nutrients and can even ferment if it contains high amount of water. Therefore, consume honey at the earliest.