Food of the Gods – Honey

After hearing a talk at a local group by Andrew Jones with his jaw dropping facts about the humble bee and then receiving a gift of unprocessed local honey from a friend, I felt the need to explore the nutritional value of this truly wonderful food.honey

Hold on Rosie isn’t honey just sugar and didn’t you tell us how bad it is for you?

Maybe ! Pasteurized honey is probably just as unhealthy as eating refined sugar.  However there are many trials that have been carried out on raw honey to prove its worth.

Honey is mentioned 61 times in the bible and has been a source of sweetness since at least 700BC. Very much revered it was used mainly in religious ceremonies to pay tribute to the gods, as well as to embalm the deceased. The prestige of honey continued for millennia until one fateful event in culinary and world history—the “discovery” of refined sugar.

Honey is essentially sugar; it contains monosaccharides, the single sugar molecules, glucose and fructose in equal amounts with some smaller amounts of other sugars. Refined sugar is a disaccharide sucrose made of a molecule of fructose and one of glucose.  This simple difference has a significant physiological advantage which is the subject of much research.  Showing advantages in blood sugar control, and insulin sensitivity, it has been shown to be better tolerated by those who have mild diabetes or type 1 diabetes.

Honey is good for wound healing ? Several trials have found superior healing when using honey and this is thought to be due to the sugars that strongly attract water as honey absorbs water in the wound thus drying it out so that the growth of bacteria and fungi is inhibited.   Also, raw honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase that, when combined with water, produces hydrogen peroxide, a mild antiseptic.  On top of this raw honey has antioxidants and flavonoids that have anti-bacterial properties.

Honey is good for hay fever? A small trial showed no such benefit of local raw honey on hay fever suffers.  Pollen believed to somehow desensitise sufferers is not actually present in honey, but is kept for feeding the young, also the pollen collected by bees isn’t from the same wind-blown varieties that can cause hay fever.   This doesn’t definitively show there is no benefit to hay fever sufferers, beneficial bacteria present in raw honey could certainly lead to improved immunity; however a direct effect is yet to be shown.

Honey is good for coughs ? In a trial on children it was compared to over the counter medicine.  The raw buckwheat honey in this case was shown to be superior, which is great news for the particularly young who can’t take certain medications.

Like with any natural ingredient, it is how it is farmed and how it is processed that determines its quality. If you require some added sweetness in your food then look to some local raw honey to get it and then enjoy it.