What is honey?
Honey is a natural syrup produced by bees. It is made up of glucose, fructose, and water with trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, enzymes, pollen, and propolis. If honey is not processed or cooked before it is sold it will retain all of its vitamins and minerals in their natural proportions.
Benefits of honey
Honey comes in many different forms and there are numerous benefits. In its raw state, it can offer unique health benefits. The world Health organization (WHO) lists honey as a demulcent, which is a substance that relieves irritation in your mouth or throat by forming a protective film. It works well in soothing coughs and can help with sleep difficulties due to upper respiratory tract infections in children. Unprocessed honey can also improve dandruff and itchy scalp.
Honey also has antibacterial, anti fungal, and antioxidants activities that make it ideal for treating wounds. Manuka honey has grown in popularity over the years. It is made with pollen gathered from flowers of the Manuka bush -a medicinal plant. Compared to other types of honey, Manuka has an extra ingredient with antimicrobial qualities, which gives it extraordinary antibacterial activity.
Where to buy honey?
To get the true unprocessed honey, please avoid the ones on supermarket shelves as they may be highly processed and may even contain additives like corn syrup. There have been investigations that have discovered that large chain stores sell honey absent of pollen. I like buying my honey locally as there are several farmers markets that sell raw, unfiltered honey. It is best to stick to a health food source that you trust.
Is honey good for me?
Even though honey is a natural sweetener with these nice benefits, if you have insulin resistance, or taking drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes , etc., you may be better off avoiding all sweeteners. If you are healthy, honey is wonderful, eaten in moderation of course.
Tips on how to incorporate honey in your diet
I enjoy adding honey to tea and with nut butters instead of jam. For a healthier electrolyte drink (as opposed to the commercial colored sport drinks), try adding part apple cider vinegar and part part honey to a liter of water.
Here is a great recipe for a cough remedy published by the Organic Consumers Association that is useful to keep in your kitchen:
Put a pint of raw honey in a pan on the stove on very low heat. Take a whole lemon and boil in some water in a separate pan for 2-3 minutes to both soften the lemon and kill any bacteria that may be on the lemon skin. Let the lemon cool enough to handle, then cut it in slices and add it to the pint of honey. Let the mixture cook on warm heat for an hour. Strain the lemon from the honey and make sure all seeds are removed. Let cool, then bottle in a jar and store in the refrigerator.
This syrup will last for 2 months in the fridge. Take 1/2 teaspoon -1 teaspoon for a 25-50 pound child as often as needed.