Honey: What is it And What Are The Benefits
So, why is honey such a big deal? Here's all the buzz (pun intended). This golden, thick liquid has properties that can improve your health, heal wounds, treat illness, prevent disease, and take your breakfast toast to a whole new level!
What is Honey
Honey bees collect nectar and pollen to take back to their hive by flying from flower to flower. A bee may visit up to 100 flowers in a single trip within a 4 to 5-mile radius of their home. Once back at the hive, they get to work producing honey. This spring and summer activity makes food that will sustain them through the cold winter when food is scarce. Their honey stores can feed the whole colony, including the young until it's spring again.
We'll skip some detail here about its actual production because it has to do with stomach storage and chewing from bee to bee, but enough to say that it's an ingenious process. Bees store the final product in honeycombs and seal it with beeswax for continued freshness until they're ready to consume it.
Lest you fear that the honey you purchase has robbed hard-working bees of their winter food, a well-cared-for colony can produce up to three times the honey it needs. Professional beekeepers take care of multiple colonies of up to 60,000 bees per colony. When it's time to harvest the honey, they will use a smoker to calm the bees and avoid getting stung. They will then remove the honeycombs and uncap (remove the beeswax) them. Beekeepers are careful to leave more than enough honey for the colony to live on through the winter.
Once the honey is taken from the honeycomb, it is filtered to removed any remaining beeswax and other debris. Some kinds of honey are heated to help the filtering process. But raw honey isn't filtered at all.
Depending on the origin, there are over 300 varieties of honey, including wildflower, golden blossom, eucalyptus, alfalfa, and tupelo.
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The Benefits of Honey
It may be surprising to learn just how many benefits honey has for us. This sweet treat for your tea can do some incredible things for your health. Here are a few:
Honey primarily consists of water and two sugars - fructose and glucose.
One tablespoon of honey also contains:
- Calories: 64 g
- Fat: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 17 g
- Sugar: 17 g
- Fiber: 0 g
Additionally, 31 minerals and vitamins, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins B and C, as well as amino acids and enzymes, are all also found in small quantities in honey.
Honey is full of antioxidants (mainly flavonoids) that protect your body from inflammation. They reduce our risk of heart disease, strokes, some cancers, and autoimmune disorders. Consuming honey increases antioxidant activity in your body.
Better Than Sugar
Although honey contains a lot of sugar, it is sweeter, which means you can use less of it. This makes honey an excellent substitute for sugar in many recipes. This may be good news for people with Type 2 Diabetes or other health concerns. Although people with diabetes should closely monitor honey consumption, studies have shown that it doesn't raise blood sugar levels as high as sugar does.
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Honey may lower triglycerides. High blood triglycerides can lead to heart disease and insulin resistance, which is linked to Type 2 Diabetes. Honey consumption is associated with reduced triglycerides, and it counters oxidative stress.
High LDL cholesterol is responsible for atherosclerosis, the buildup and subsequent hardening of your arteries that leads to strokes and heart attacks. Studies show that consuming honey may lower this 'bad' cholesterol and increase 'good' cholesterol (HDL).
Honey may be used topically on burns and wounds. It was found especially effective on partial-thickness burns and infected surgical wounds. It was found 97% effective on the foot ulcers of people with diabetes. This is exciting because foot ulcers often lead to amputation. Honey's healing ability may come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It may also nourish the wound's surrounding tissue.
Upper-Respiratory Tract Infections
Studies show that when compared to over-the-counter medications, consuming honey improves coughing frequency and served as an inexpensive antibiotic, One study found that it worked better than two popular cough medications for children and their parents. Honey is not just effective; there are no worrisome side effects to consider. Honey as an antibiotic is also exciting because the over-use of antibiotics is quickly becoming a world health issue. Honey may be an effective alternative to antibiotics.
Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is the combination of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. It increases your chances of heart disease, strokes, and other conditions affecting blood vessels. Consuming honey helps all three of these conditions. It has a low glycemic index, so it doesn't trigger a blood sugar spike; it helps with weight management, and it reduces triglycerides and 'bad' cholesterol.
Honey has prebiotic properties that help to produce lots of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli - beneficial gut bacteria. This good bacteria grows in the gut to aid with digestion. It also protects against heart disease, some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and improves your immune system.
The Last Word
It's hard to believe that something so tasty can have so many health benefits, but honey is the full package.
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