To Bee or not to Bee: Let’s Talk Honey
Honey, or as some call it, ‘liquid gold’, is a naturally occurring food which you can find throughout the UK in local food markets, stores and farm shops. In fact, it really is worthwhile buying local and organic honey, not only is this environmentally savvy, but you will know it is unprocessed and high quality. We often associate sweetness with unhealthy foods and drinks and this is usually true. Honey is a naturally sweet food, though when consumed in moderation it can offer a healthy sweetness to your diet, alongside the other benefits which some with raw and unprocessed honey.
Source of Minerals and Antioxidants
High quality organic honey is rich in antioxidants, such as organic acids and phenolic compounds. It is a well-known fact that antioxidants have some really positive benefits such as improving your heart health and lowering your blood pressure. Furthermore, raw honey such as manuka contains magnesium, calcium and potassium. These minerals can play an active role in bone health, regulating your heartbeat and supporting the prevention of diabetes.
Honey can act like a hayfever vaccine. By consuming local and unprocessed honey, you will digest pollen, in response your body will produce antibodies which learn to deal with the pollen more efficiently. By repeating your exposure to these natural pollens, through honey consumption, your body can build up a tolerance towards pollen which can help to alleviate your hayfever symptoms come the sunnier months. Now is a great time to start eating local honey to build up a resistance for summer.
Gut Issues, Colds and Cuts
As well as hayfever, honey is a great soother for a sore throat or persistent cough, due to honey’s thick texture; it coats the throat and relieves that dry feeling. Honey can even be a relief on the outside too, as applying it to cuts and burns soothes. Honeys such as manuka offer some great antibacterial qualities, which benefit our immune system and can help with gut issues. When it comes to buying manuka honey, be aware that some brands are not pure manuka honey and are watered down. Honey really is a natural medicine for our bodies on the inside and out!
There are so many ways that you can incorporate honey into your diet. At breakfast you can drizzle some honey over your yogurt or stir some into your morning coffee or tea. If you would like to add a little sweetness to a homemade salad dressing then try adding a teaspoon of honey, as opposed to sugar. You could try this recipe - honey, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, it adds that sweetness and zest to your salad. Finally, honey can be used in cooking sauces or marinades, especially in oriental cuisines which usually have a sweet flavour, again in these dishes honey is a great alternative to sugar.
It is important to remember that even though honey is a great natural alternative to cane sugar, organically produced all over the UK, it is still high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation. I wouldn’t recommend having more than a teaspoon at a time, and only use two times a day. In doing so you will avoid having a sugar crash which comes with consuming too much of a sugary product. There are some honey types with a lower GI (Glycemic Index) such as tupelo honey, which is recommended for diabetics. Glycemic Index is how we measure the way a body absorbs and uses the energy from sugar, the lower the better! It is also worth bearing in mind that due to its sugar content, honey is quite high in calories. Eat organic honey in moderation and enjoy the benefits without the negatives.
So as you can see, there really are some great health benefits which can be found in the right sorts of honey (local and organic). The versatility of the ways you can use honey and incorporate it into your diet makes this food even better. That said, it really is crucial that you consume the right type and amounts of honey, as it is naturally much sweeter than sugar, try adding less to a tea or coffee.