Bees produce a thick and golden liquid called honey that is highly enjoyed, consumed and used by people around the world. Honey is produced by bees because they use it as a food source during the fall and winter; when no flowers are blooming.
This golden liquid is created from the nectar of flowers and enzymes from the bees that extract it. First, the bee must extract the nectar from a flower, and then the bee returns to the hive where it regurgitates some of the nectar into another bee’s mouth. This process is continued until it is deposited it into the honeycomb.
At this point, the water must be extracted from the regurgitated and enzyme packed nectar. To speed up the evaporation process the bees use their wings to fan the liquid. The water must evaporate or it won’t become thick or have the proper texture. Once it becomes thick, the bees secrete a liquid used to coat the honeycomb. This coating is what helps the honey last throughout the colder times of the year. After all this has been done, the honey is ready to be harvested or consumed by the bees.
For centuries, humans have harvested honey because of its sweetness and decadent flavor. It has also been known to provide many health benefits because of its powerful medicinal and healing properties. It’s a healthy alternative to sugar and can provide great benefits to your skin and other areas of the body when either eaten or rubbed directly on the body.
HISTORY OF HONEY
Honey has been harvested for as far back as humans have been recording history and beyond. The earliest known record of honey harvesting is shown in a cave painting found in Spain dated back to 8,000 B.C. However, it is now known that wild honey has been a major part of the ecosystem since before apes began to walk upright. Thanks to rare fossil finds and prehistoric fossilized amber finds we now know that honey bees were actually native to North America as early as 14 million years ago.
From 8,000 B.C. to about 1,500 AD honey was a major resource in trade. Honey was the primary ingredient used as a sweetener in prepared foods as well as an array of other uses in that time. Honey was such an important food, that many people of power and nobility took the honey bee as their emblem or featured an image of the honey bee. Then sometime in the Renaissance, sugar became the primary sweetener in Europe and honey became used less and less.
Apart from being a reliable sweetener, honey had many other uses in the trade market. Honey has been widely used to heal wounds. In fact, the Romans used honey to heal their wounds after battles. They would even give offerings of honey to the gods in an attempt to win favor with them. The honey bee is even the symbol of the Greek goddess Artemis and the emblem of Cupid/Eros.
Ultimately, honey was not just a symbol for greatness in that time, it was an important part of everyday life since honey had so many uses and almost an indefinite shelf life, it is no wonder honey has a major place in the history books.
Even today, honey has proven its worth time and time again. Apart from serving as the daily food source for the honey bee colony, it also has many surprising uses when combined with modern processing or just adding it to some other simple ingredients to create something wonderful.
TYPES OF HONEY
With all these beneficial uses of honey it’s good to note, that not all honey is as equally healthful. Most of the honey you find in grocery stores are extremely processed and pasteurized at high temperatures. This process rids the honey of its beneficial properties such as enzymes, antioxidants and antibacterial agents. Each type of honey has been prepared with different processing techniques to give it the flavor and color desired.
Raw Honey – When shopping for honey, raw honey is what you should gravitate towards. It provides the best nutrients, vitamins and enzymes. This is because it is unprocessed and unpasteurized leaving it to its purest form. No heat has been applied to this honey leaving it the most beneficial and useful.
Pasteurized Honey – This honey will still provide great flavor, but it is not the best option if you are looking to get the most health benefits. During pasteurization, the honey is heated to a certain temperature to kill off any possible yeast forming. This way the honey does not ferment. The only other benefit to pasteurized honey is that it will last longer, in terms of granulation, than raw honey will.
Filtered Honey – Just like raw honey, filtered honey is unprocessed. Meaning no heat has been added to alter the state or health benefits. The only difference is that it’s been filtered to remove particles such as wax but has not removed the pollen. Because this honey has not been heated it will also crystallize faster than pasteurized honey.
Ultrafiltered Honey – This type of honey has simply been pushed through an ultra-fine filter. The point of this is to remove all the pollen as well as any debris such as wax or comb particles but otherwise, everything else is left.
Monofloral Honey – This honey has been produced by a single flower offering a unique flavor. Popular flowers include orange blossom, lavender, and sage. Depending upon the type of flowers the bees use the honey will take on different flavors and scents and even colors.
FORMS OF HONEY
In addition to types of honey, you can also buy honey in different forms. Each of these forms has their own benefits based on added health properties and/or ease of use.
Comb Honey – This is when the honey was left in the comb it was made in. This means the honey is at its absolute purest form without any alterations. The comb can also be consumed as well.
Chunk Honey – This form of honey is similar to comb honey except for only a few chunks of the honey has been left.
Liquid Honey – This is the most common form of honey and can be found at any grocery store. The honey is extracted from the comb and sometimes strained depending on the type of honey they want to produce. This honey is smooth and does not contain any crystals.
Creamed Honey – Creamed honey is made by intentionally causing it to crystallize. Once the crystals have formed it is whipped until it is thick enough to be able to spread like jam or butter. This form of honey would be ideal if you usually consider honey messy.
USES OF HONEY
Food – Honey is continuously added to food and consumed by people all around the world for its sweetness and healthy properties. It can be added to most recipes to replace sugar for a less processed and healthier option.
Health – Honey is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants that make it a great alternative medicine. The properties in honey such as antioxidants help fight off coughs, boosts your immunity, suppresses coughs, soothe burns and can be used as a natural sleep aid. Caution: Don’t feed honey to children less than two years of age due to the risk of botulism.
Beauty – Honey is a popular additive for tons of beauty products because of its unique properties that deliver moisture and antioxidants. Honey even has antimicrobial agents that are responsible for fighting off infections. The powerful antioxidants found in honey can help slow the aging process. Antimicrobial agents can treat and/or prevent acne. Other properties in honey clarify and moisturize your skin; giving it a healthy glow. Shampoos containing honey can even help treat dandruff.
WHAT MAKES HONEY SO HEALTHY?
Vitamins and Minerals – Raw honey is one of the most nutrient-rich substances readily available in the market right now. Honey can contain up to 27 different minerals and a spectrum of vitamins. Vitamins and minerals found in honey include iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chlorine, potassium, Vitamin C and magnesium.
Antibacterial and Anti-fungal – In many clinical studies, honey has been shown to have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties likely due to the low acidity of honey as well as the large amount of antioxidants. Because of this, honey has been used as a natural antiseptic on small wounds for centuries.
Anti-inflammatory -Thanks to the antibacterial properties of honey, it also reduces inflammation by way of healing infections caused by bacteria. And unlike pharmaceuticals, honey is much less likely to have any negative side effects. For instance, honey has been used to treat infection and damage in the eye successfully.
Antioxidants – The rule of thumb with honey, is that the darker the honey, the more antioxidants present in the honey. These antioxidants will help your body fight off disease and will promote a healthy immune system. Antioxidants are known to prevent cells from oxidation. Antioxidants also fight off free radicals that produce cancers.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HONEY
Cough – It is well known that honey can relieve coughs; in 2007 a study showed that honey can relieve a cough more effectively than over the counter cough suppressants. When ingested, the honey coats and soothes the back of the throat and makes the mouth produce saliva which thins mucus.
Wounds and Burns – For thousands of years, honey has been used to heal cuts and burns. The Egyptians hailed honey for how effective it was and even used it to help stomach problems. However, don’t smear just any honey on your next paper cut, make sure you have a more natural honey; the recommended honey for burns and cuts is Manuka honey.
Energy Booster – Honey is composed of a unique blend of natural sugars, antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, vitamins and amino acids. This makes honey the go-to energy booster among many pro athletes and is recommended by sports dietitians that say to include pure honey in your pre-workout meal or snack.
Immunity Booster – Due to the high antimicrobial tendencies and the high amounts of antioxidants, honey is widely considered an immunity booster when consumed regularly in limited amounts. Antioxidants fight off free radicals that have entered your body from pollution. This prevents your cells from dying and improves the overall health of your body.
Dandruff – Dandruff is a challenging affliction, there are many anti-dandruff shampoos that are full of chemicals that claim to get rid of dandruff, but tend to end up just irritating the scalp with harsh chemicals. Honey has shown to have a major impact on dandruff. Honey has even been shown to stimulate new hair growth. This is because the properties in honey allow moisture to adhere to your skin better.
HOW TO INCLUDE HONEY IN YOUR DIET
Honey, like other sugary foods, is a very tasty treat but with some interesting health benefits. Do not take it for granted, though, honey like all other foods can be over-consumed to the point where the cons will out weight the health benefits because of so much sugar. Also, just because honey has some additional nutrients does not mean it should replace whole foods like vegetables and fruits completely.
Heating most foods burns off a large amount of nutrients; this is also true of honey. When at all possible, try to use only raw honey in order to get the maximum benefit from the antioxidants and vitamin C. The best way to start adding honey to your diet is to get rid of all your processed sugar and replace it for raw honey.
Honey is still viable to use in baking, just remember the nutrients will be diminished. To combat that, add less in the cooking process and add some raw honey on top once it’s cooked. Even though most of the healthful benefits will be cooked off it is still a great and healthier alternative to processed sugar.
Most people have heard of putting honey in tea and adding it on top of deserts, (yes! Honey is a perfect ice-cream topping!). But, when it comes to incorporating honey in a daily routine we all have some homework to do.
One of the hallmark health drinks with honey is as simple as filling a glass with water. That’s right, warm water with some added lemon slices and you guessed it, honey. This health drink is great for cleansing the stomach, helping you feel full to prevent cravings and jump-starting your metabolism first thing in the morning. And of course there is honey tea, if you simply replace sugar with a teaspoon of honey your tea will still be sweet and you will get the benefits too.
You can even make some “DIY” beauty products. Honey is great for the skin and hair because it adds moisture. Add a little bit of honey to organic, virgin coconut oil then apply to your hair for about thirty minutes.
If you suffer from eczema then you should try a honey oatmeal bath. Simply add about two cups of uncooked oatmeal, one cup of whole milk and a tablespoon of honey to your bathtub and soak for about ten minutes; your skin will thank you. Honey can even be added to a facial treatment to fight off acne.
As you can see, it is really easy to add honey to your diet. Your skin and taste buds will love the new change. Just remember that honey is not something you should take advantage of too much. It is better than processed sugar but it can still add up in calories so make sure you track your consumption.
Honey is created by bees and made from nectar. It is usually a sweet golden liquid that can provide a great deal of health benefits. To produce honey, bees extract nectar from flowers and regurgitate it onto the honeycomb.
The most fascinating information about honey is that it dates as far back 8,000 B.C. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when honey was discovered, but there is evidence suggesting that honey was native to North America over 14 million years ago. Before processed sugar, honey was highly popular in the trading system and was even offered as a gift to the gods.
If you want to get the most health benefits from honey you need to buy raw honey. It is unprocessed and full of valuable health benefits such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants. You can even buy flavored honey known as monofloral honey.
This honey has been produced by pollen of only one type of flower giving it unique flavors and aromas. Honey can even be bought with the comb or part of the comb still intact or even creamed. Creamed honey is crystallized and then whipped to make it spreadable.
Honey can be added to food as a replacement for sugar, used for burns or other medicinal purposes, and can even be added to health products to increase moisture in your skin and hair. Honey is composed of vitamins, minerals, antibacterial agents, anti-inflammatory agents, and antioxidants.
This is why honey has been used as medicine for centuries. Honey is most known for suppressing coughs because it coats the back of the throat. It can even be applied to wounds to speed up the healing process. The antioxidants and enzymes found in honey work together to boost your energy and immunity to keep you looking and feeling young.
These health benefits may sound pretty exciting but in order to get them, you need to use it properly. Don’t go overboard and start consuming too much. Honey can add up in calories and raise your blood pressure. Simply monitor your intake and replace it with your processed sugar. If you would like to get healthier skin and hair make some DIY beauty products. Use honey right and you will reap the benefits.