Honey has been used by countless cultures around the world in the last 2,500 years. While the many health benefits of honey have made it an important element of traditional medicines as Ayurvedic treatments, scientists are also investigating the benefits in relation to modern medicine, especially in wound healing.
It is known as Honig in German, Miele in Italian, Shahad in Hindi, Miel in French and Spanish, Mel in Portuguese, мед in Russian, Honing in Dutch and μελι in Greek; there is nowhere in the world where honey is not used and celebrated as part of the cultural diet.
But what are the components that make honey so popular? Probably, it is the ease with which it can be consumed. One can be eaten straight, put on bread as jam, mixed with juices or any beverage instead of sugar, or mixed with warm water, lemon juice, cinnamon, and other herbs to make a medicine. It is savored both for its taste and health benefits, which is extremely useful and versatile.
Health Benefits Of Honey
Its benefits include the following treatments, taken from the experts of traditional and modern medicine.
Sweetener : It can be used as a substitute for sugar in many foods and beverages. It contains approximately 69% glucose and fructose, allowing it to be used as a sweetener that is better for your overall health than regular sugar.
Weight Loss : Although it has more calories than sugar when consumed with warm water, it helps to digest the fat stored in your body. Similarly, honey with lemon juice or cinnamon helps in losing weight.
Energy Source : According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), honey contains about 64 calories per tablespoon. Therefore, it is used by many people as a source of energy. On the other hand, a tablespoon of sugar will give you about 15 calories. Furthermore, the carbohydrates that are present in honey can be easily converted into glucose even by the most sensitive stomachs, as it is very easy for the body to digest this pure and natural substance.
Improve Rthletic Performance : Recent research has shown that honey is an excellent ergogenic and helps increase the performance of athletes. It's a great way to maintain blood sugar levels, muscle recovery, and glycogen restoration after a workout, as well as regulating the amount of insulin and energy expenditure in the body.
Source Of Vitamins And Minerals : Contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. The type of vitamins and minerals and their quantity depends on the type of flowers used for beekeeping. Commonly, honey contains vitamin C, calcium, and iron. If you check the vitamin and regular sugar content of any other mineral source, you will find that it is totally absent or negligible.
Antibacterial And Anti Fungal Properties: It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which is why it is often used as a natural antiseptic in traditional medicine.
Antioxidants : Contains nutraceuticals, which are very effective in eliminating free radicals from the body. As a result, the body's immunity against many conditions is improved, including life threatening diseases like cancer or heart disease.
Skin Care With Milk And Honey : Milk and honey are often served together, as both of these ingredients help create smooth, beautiful skin. Consuming this combination every morning is a common practice in many countries for this reason.
Honey In Wound Healing : Research is carried out to study its benefit in treating wounds and the nursing standard explains some of these benefits in wound healing. It is detailed below:
Honey has antimicrobial properties.
Helps in promoting auto lytic debridement.
Deodorizes smelly wounds.
Speeds up the healing process by stimulating the wound tissues.
Helps initiate the healing process in latent wounds.
It also helps to heal the wet wound.
Now that you know the benefits of honey, how do you prefer to eat it? You can eat it raw, you can add water or different drinks, and it can also be added to various recipes.
Factors Governing the Benefits of Honey
The benefits of the honey we get depend on its quality. They are not all created equal, so the quality varies, and subsequently, different types of honey necessarily provide the same benefits.
The price and benefits of honey depend on its quality, so it is very important for manufacturers and consumers to understand the various factors that affect the quality of honey. Some of these factors include the type of flowers used in the formation of the combs, the melting process, the storage conditions, the heating temperature, and many more. These factors have been explained in more detail below:
Combination: Polyfloral honey (obtained from more than one flower) is also believed to provide more benefits than monofloral. Therefore, many companies sell blended honey as it offers the benefits of a great variety and is therefore considered healthier than unmixed honey.
Storage : When stored for a long time, honey turns a darker color. It loses some of its properties and can also ferment if the water content is too high. Therefore, prolonged storage should be avoided, although freshly harvested honey is always preferred.
Heating : Heating honey can lead to drastic changes in its chemical composition. As a result, heating in high temperatures reduces its benefits. It is no wonder that many people prefer raw or organic honey or raw organic honey. While raw by definition means less processing (and no heating), organic honey is prepared using organic production methods and standard procedures, where heating to high temperatures is not allowed.
Water Content : Honey can also undergo fermentation. If the water content is high (above 19%), the chances of being fermented are high. You can measure the water content using a refractometer. On the other hand, free flowing honey contains higher water content or has been heated to disturb the natural crystallization process, thus reducing the benefits conferred on you.
Color: Color is a very useful method of judging its quality. Light colored honey is more valued than dark colored honey as the above has a delicate flavor. It becomes darker when stored and heated.
Filtration : Most of the benefits are due to the presence of pollen in honey. Without pollen, honey is a glucose-fructose solution and is just as bad for you as sugar. Unfortunately, companies market the clear product as good quality honey, whereas in reality, ultra filtered honey doesn't have many health benefits at all. That said, you should be very cautious when consuming pollen rich honey. If you have a pollen allergy, avoid consuming it.
What is Organic Honey?
Some people have the opinion that all honeys available in the market are natural and obtained from nature. Others feel that when they are produced on chemically sprayed farms that they cannot be contaminated with pesticides sprayed on crops and weeds.
However, the truth is that bees can also be affected by extensive pesticide use that goes to chemically treated farms. The issue is so serious that Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Barack Obama in May 2013 that if excessive control of pesticides is not reduced, it could lead to an unstable situation globally as the population of bees worldwide is it comes back more and more affected. If pesticides can kill bees, how can they not affect the honey produced by these bees? On the other hand, non organic production implies the extensive use of antibiotics to control the disease. You should note that as of yet there is no "scientific" proof that organic honey is healthier than non organic.
So why should you eat organic honey? Well, many people prefer to be cautious. Most of our decisions are based on our beliefs and conscience. Since organic production involves strict guidelines, people feel safe eating organic honey over non organic honey. Below are some of the ways in which pesticide and antibiotic contamination of honey can take place:
Pesticide Contamination in Honey
Honey can be contaminated with pesticides sprayed on crops in one of the following ways:
-In some cases, when plants and herbs that contain flowers have been sprayed with pesticides, the bees become poisoned with pesticides.
-Sometimes the pesticide is sprayed on the bees directly.
-In many cases, bees collect nectar and pollen that has been contaminated with pesticides.
-When pesticides are sprayed, part of the amount accumulates in water or near plants. When bees drink this water, they are also contaminated.
-On some occasions, the pesticide is sprayed on the bee hives or it can be transported from the sprayed plants.
Conventional bees are given large doses of antibiotics to help protect against disease, but unfortunately, honey is also contaminated with these antibiotics. In 2002, Chinese honey samples were tested for the presence of antibiotics in Europe. Several samples were found to contain traces of antibiotics, which led to a ban on imports of Chinese honey in Europe. The ban was later lifted in 2004 due to improvements in Chinese veterinary standards and imports of honey from China resumed.
What leads to this antibiotic contamination? Unlike organic production, conventional honey production does not involve strict guidelines for the amount and mode of transmission of antibiotics to bees. As a result, beekeepers freely use these antibiotics. When farmers use excessive amounts of antibiotics, the risk of contamination increases.
What is the antibiotic residue problem found in honey? Antibiotics given to bees are veterinary antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, streptomycin, and sulfonamides. Large doses of chloramphenicol administered to humans can cause cancer and aplastic anemia. Also, high doses of streptomycin and sulfonamides are harmful to the human body.
Many countries have not banned the use of these harmful drugs in beekeeping. The EU (European Union) has banned all three antibiotics while the United States has only banned chloramphenicol so far.
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