Honey has got much more to it than just a natural sweetener. Honey is one ingredient which, fortunately never has lost its charm and has always and rightfully occupied an important place in most of our kitchens. Thanks to the weight loss industry the demand for pure organic honey has gone up significantly in the last couple of years. Honey in addition to being oldest and natural sweetener has loads of health and medicinal value to it. Apart from its culinary benefits, in India, we have been using honey as a home remedy for cough since thousand of years and it also acts as a catalyst for various ayurvedic medicines. Honey is a golden colored luscious liquid which is full of vitamins, trace enzymes, amino acids, and minerals and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Honey is a sweet product made from flower nectar combined with an enzyme secreted by honey bees. Honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil. It does crystallize owing to its fructose content in couple of months after harvest, but it is a natural process and it does not alter its properties. The bees produce honey as a food and energy source to be used during harsh winters when fresh food is scarce. Beekeepers harvest the honey generally in autumn leaving enough for bees to survive. The color and flavor varies from hive to hive based on the type of flower nectar collected by the bees.
Honey being a unique combination of fructose and glucose is generally sweeter than sugar but it contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Besides, it is also a great source of carbohydrate.
- Honey is a natural energy booster. It is a perfect pre and post workout food and helps in recovering sore muscles and tissues post workout.
- It is an effective natural memory booster.
- Honey has been used as an age old remedy for persistent cough and sore throat mixed with ginger.
- It has antibacterial and antifungal property which helps in healing cuts, burns, and wounds.
- Honey is known to treat insomnia. A teaspoon of honey before going to bed helps in relaxing mind and treats sleep disorders.
- It is a natural immune system booster. Regular use of honey improves the body’s capacity to fight infection causing bacteria.
- Honey is known to aid weight loss. Honey has the capacity to break down stored fat which is utilized by the body for performing daily activities.
- Honey prevents cancer as it is a rich source of antioxidants. Floral flavonoids present in honey have anticarcinogenic and anti-tumor properties.
- Honey is a great moisturizer for both skin and hair. It has been used for ages to treat and hair and skin problems and is widely used in cosmetics and hair products.
- Helps with acid reflux. Honey is known to soothe acid reflux and heartburn.
How to include honey in your diet:
- The most common and popular practice is to add honey to a glass of warm water.
- It can be used in place of jams and jellies which are full of preservatives and chemicals to spread on toasts and parathas.
- Sweeten your teas and beverages with honey instead of sugar. There are no added preservatives, flavorings, and colorings.
- For cold and cough add honey to warm milk with a pinch of turmeric and drink it warm before going to sleep.
- It can be used as salad dressing, with your breakfast cereal. Or just go ahead and have a spoonful straight from the jar.
Unfortunately, all the honey sold in stores is not pure. It is very important to make sure that the honey you are buying is not processed and should be free from any additives, preservatives, and chemicals. Honey continues to be easily adulterated with sugar, corn syrup, and high water content. Needless to say, an adulterated honey will only add to calories without providing any health benefits.
Honey should never be cooked. If you heat honey, it becomes toxic to the body. Pediatricians and health authorities advise that honey should not be given to infants below 12 months due to the possibility of Clostridium botulinum spores (the cause of infant botulism) might be present in honey. Spores of this bacteria does not cause any problems in adults and older children as their digestive system is developed.
-An Article by Ranjeeta Pathak (A Health Enthusiast)