Honey: 6 Health Benefits & 6 Varieties
Honey is a sirup-like liquid, which convinces with a whole range of health benefits. We explain to you how exactly honey works in your body – especially during pregnancy. In addition, we introduce you to the different varieties and give tips on buying.
Whether honey-mustard dressing or strawberry jam bread with honey – the processed plant nectar can be used in every kitchen in many ways. Thanks to the nutrients it contains, you can do something for your health on top of that.
Facts about Honey
Already in the Stone Age, honey found its use as one of the few sweet foods – this is shown by cave paintings as well as analyses of Stone Age wax remains.
In addition, the Greek physician Hippocrates of Kos already recommended honey as a remedy for various diseases such as fever and gout.
Honey is composed of various types of sugar on the one hand and water on the other. It consists of about 40 percent fructose and about 30 percent glucose. Thus, the sweetener is suitable as a natural sugar substitute.
How Bees Make Honey
The liquid syrup is created primarily through the hard work of honey bees. Namely, with their proboscises, they suck the honeydew (a sugary excretory product) or nectar from the flowers of the respective plants.
The bees store the collected nectar in their so-called honey stomach. Once at the hive, the contents of the stomach are transferred to the hive bees.
Through the repeated delivery and absorption of the mass, the nectar is enriched with enzymes and proteins, among other things. Finally, this thickens the liquid – until it reaches a viscous consistency.
Nutritional Values and Calories of Honey
In the syrupy liquid, you will find a number of important minerals and trace elements.
These include, for example:
Calorie-wise, however, honey doesn’t fare quite as well: calculated on 100 grams, it contains over 300 kilocalories. All other important nutritional values you can read in the following table.
|Nutrients||Per 100 gram|
Honey in Pregnancy
Generally speaking, honey is almost always safe during pregnancy.
Strictly speaking, however, it is one of the animal foods that pregnant women should enjoy with caution. Untreated food can be contaminated with germs.
Honey contains listeria – bacteria that can cause the infectious disease listeriosis. However, the natural product has an antibacterial effect due to its high sugar content. This means that the listeria can hardly multiply.
It is also known that honey can contain the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Statistically, it is included in about five percent of all jars of bee honey. The spores of the germ are able to lodge in the infant’s intestines – so they can cause severe food poisoning.
Medical professionals call this infant botulism. The colonization of the intestine by clostridia occurs because the baby’s intestinal flora is still missing.
As a pregnant woman, however, you can respire, because you can still eat honey.
Your organism makes the bacterium harmless for you and your child through the body’s own substances and stomach acid. Remember, however: Only from an age of one year is the intestine of a toddler strong enough to defend itself independently against the clostridia.
To conclude: Honey in small amounts is not a problem during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Side Effects – When Honey Can Be Bad for You
Side effects of the plant nectar are not known so far. However, if you suffer from an allergy, then you should better avoid honey products. The reason for this is the pollen contained, which can aggravate allergy symptoms.
Similarly, if you have fructose intolerance. Those who cannot tolerate fructose are usually allergic to honey as well.
Moreover, keep in mind that honey contains much sugar, and don´t eat too much, because too much sugar is not good for you.
Health Benefits of Honey – Why Honey is Good for You
Honey contains a variety of ingredients. In fact, it has more than 200 different ingredients – many of which have health-promoting effects. These include enzymes, phenols and antioxidants.
Therefore, it helps to support your body and health in many ways. Moreover, honey can prevent some diseases.
In this chapter, we explain the effects of the natural remedy in more detail.
Due to its different types of sugar, the sweetener provides you with energy over a long period of time. First, your body breaks down the contained glucose, then the fructose.
Compared to white sugar, this provides you with a constant supply of energy over a longer period of time. The remedy also contains valuable B vitamins, which help you break down carbohydrates.
Since honey is made by bees, it is an animal product. And that is the case, even though the ultimate food is purely plant-based.
If you’re vegan, bee honey is not recommended. Still, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives available to you, such as syrup made from dandelions.
Prevents Iron Deficiency
Honey contains a number of vitamins – including vitamin C.
Also known as ascorbic acid, the vitamin can help you prevent iron deficiency.
This is because it increases the absorption of plant-derived iron. Per 100 grams, honey contains about 0.5 grams of vitamin C.
If stored properly, this natural product can be stored for several years. At best, stow it at a room temperature of 64 Fahrenheit in a dry and dark environment.
However, if the honey was bottled incorrectly, it can ferment. If the liquid is spoiled, you can recognize it by the alcoholic taste and the formation of bubbles.
Honey Against Cough and Sore Throat
Also worthy to name is the effect of honey on cough and sore throat. Especially for respiratory tract infections, the natural remedy is readily recommended as an alternative to antibiotics.
By analyzing the current collection of studies, researchers conclude that honey can help alleviate the symptoms of cough. This includes both the frequency and severity of coughing attacks. Honey is even considered less harmful than other medicines.
For example, due to the sugar it contains, honey stimulates saliva production. The resulting moisture can then be deposited on the irritated mucous membranes and thus quickly provide relief from the symptoms.
Apart from this, scientists attribute antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to the remedy.
Honey is especially popular among endurance athletes because the remedy supports the body’s recovery.
If you have a strenuous sports session behind you, then it is worthwhile to consume honey with proteins. This combination will help you to decrease your recovery time.
Besides, your muscles will feel less stiff. The plant nectar is rich in amino acids, including arginine and glutamine. They represent important intermediates of metabolism and give honey its typical flavor.
Helps with Inflammation
Honey’s antibacterial effects have been scientifically proven. Its low pH and high sugar content make this natural remedy suitable for treating inflammatory skin problems and poorly healing wounds.
Its special enzymes have an additional disinfecting effect. For this reason, you can also use it on skin blemishes like acne or pimples.
Contrary to some sayings, you should refrain from consuming honey if you suffer from diarrhea. The syrupy liquid causes a laxative effect, increasing the pressure in your intestines. Ultimately, this leads to defecation.
Protects Against Disease
It is well known that honey is very good for the immune system. According to an Austrian study, eating honey increases resistance to infections by about 40 percent.
This is due in part to the flavonoids it contains. The water-soluble plant pigments have namely medical properties – they strengthen the vessels and act antiviral.
In particular, medicinal honey is excellent for strengthening the immune system. It makes you catch a cold less often and feel fitter.
Unlike other types, medicinal honey is not pasteurized. Instead of pasteurization, gamma rays are used, which preserve important substances.
Whether and to what extent the home remedy helps with hemorrhoids has not yet been scientifically studied. However, some users observe a temporary relief of discomfort.
Varieties of Honey
There exists a wide range of different types of honey, which differ in taste and appearance.
We divide them into honeydew honey and blossom honey. The latter refers to those varieties that consist of flower nectar.
Honeydew, on the other hand, is the excretions of insects that suck on plants.
In acacia honey, we distinguish between German acacia honey and true acacia honey. While the latter is obtained from tropical regions, the German variety comes from the acacia forests near Berlin.
The acacia honey has a high sugar content and therefore also tastes very sweet and mild. In addition, a light yellow to golden yellow color and a clear consistency are characteristic of the variety.
Manuka honey is characterized by higher effectiveness compared to the conventional variant.
That is why the indigenous people of New Zealand have been using this natural product as a traditional remedy for a long time.
The strength of the effect of Manuka honey depends mainly on its content of methylglyoxal (MG). The substance is formed as a natural metabolic product in the bee’s stomach.
Conventional honey has an MGO content of one to two milligrams per kilogram of product. Manuka honey, on the other hand, has 300 to 700 milligrams.
Forest honey can convince with its spicy taste and dark brown color. The variety is created on the basis of spruce or fir trees, among others.
So, unlike other kinds of honey, it is not flower nectar, but secretions of plants and excretions of insects that feed on plant sap.
Lavender honey is a rarity that usually comes from the French Provence.
In order for the syrup-like liquid to be called lavender honey, it must consist of at least 60 percent nectar from the lavender plant.
In terms of taste, however, the luxury product is not only reminiscent of lavender – it also convinces with spicy and fruity notes. For this reason, you can use it perfectly to refine desserts or as a spread.
Unlike conventional honey, the organic variety is subject to separate regulations. Although the bees collect the nectar from the wild, the beekeeper can influence the composition of the final product.
For example, to ensure that as few pesticides as possible end up in the food product, the beekeeper must locate his apiaries so that predominantly organic wild plants or plant crops grow within a three-kilometer radius.
In addition to the choice of location, the beekeeper must also pay attention to how the bees are kept. The animals may only be kept in hives made of natural raw materials such as wood or straw. So, apart from the quality of the product, a beekeeper must also pay attention to environmentally friendly and sustainable production.
Raw honey has a thicker and more opaque consistency compared to ordinary honey. This is due to the fact that the two types of honey are produced quite differently.
Raw honey is taken straight from the beehive. Already after being strained, it can be bottled. Conventional honey is heated to the point of pasteurization, raw honey on the other hand is not pasteurized. Consequently, it is purer than processed honey.
Therefore, raw honey does not contain pesticides, herbicides, chemicals or pollutants.
Overall, raw honey is healthier than processed alternatives. This is because the pasteurization and filtration process can filter out helthy nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, unhealthy additives such as sweeteners are sometimes added.
Normally, raw honey is not filtered. However, there is also a filtered version, too.
Since the remedy has a high content of glucose, it tends to form more sugar crystals.
The crystals form especially if you store the product in a cool environment. Also, certain varieties such as canola or linden honey tend to form crystals. Forest and acacia honey, on the other hand, remain liquid longer.
Honey as a Home Remedy
Additionally to the proven health benefits, some mothers swear by honey as a home remedy.
As a time-tested home remedy, you can use honey in many different ways as. We will introduce you to the two most popular ways of using it in this chapter.
Onion Juice with Honey
For coughs and colds, the use of onion juice with honey is worthwhile. This is a kind of natural cough syrup.
And this is how you make it:
- Put one finely chopped onion in a cup.
- Add two tablespoons of honey. Make sure it is sufficiently liquid.
- Let the mixture infuse overnight.
- The next morning, pour off the liquid and continue to use.
Hot Milk with Honey
Those who have trouble sleeping like to reach for a glass of hot milk mixed with a little honey.
Some say that the tryptophan contained in the milk causes the sleep hormone melatonin to be produced in the brain. Through honey, your body releases more insulin, which can improve the absorption of tryptophan.
In principle, this is all true, but milk contains too little tryptophan to cause the sleep-promoting effect.
Researchers suspect that this is more of a placebo effect. Nevertheless, hot milk with honey is good for sore throats. Both foods have a positive effect on the immune system and salivation.
How to Buy Honey
To make sure your next honey experience is a real treat, you should pay attention to some quality features even before you buy.
First and foremost, it’s important that you reach for glass packaging and avoid plastic. Plastic is not only bad for the environment, but it can also contain toxic substances that then accumulate in the product.
Since it is a natural product, contained pollen and wax provide a natural cloudiness. A clear liquid, on the other hand, is an indication that the product has been heated – which ultimately results in the loss of nutrients.
You should also make sure that there is no watery layer on the processed nectar. This, in turn, indicates a lack of stirring during production and is associated with a loss of flavor.
It is also worth reaching for organically produced plant nectar. In fact, the organic seal of approval ensures that there are no sources of pollution at the site of the hives that affect the final product or the bees.
In small quantities, the natural product is not harmful to adult dogs. However, you should not feed it to puppies. This is because it is often contaminated with clostridia, which can cause poisoning in young dogs.