This week’s challenge is to incorporate honey into your life. Although most of us know what honey is, few know just how many uses it has.
Honey is a simple sugar that contains antioxidants, catalase, ascorbic acid, flavonoids and alkaloids. These helpful free-radical fighters have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Not all honey is created equal. Raw honey preserves micronutrients and enzymes. Studies on friendly bacteria, blood sugar, weight management, and cholesterol have shown the positive side effects of eating raw honey.
Believe it or not the artificial honey market is growing. Americans consume 400 million pounds of honey each year but only 149 million pounds are produced in the states. Enter cheap imports. Due to the rapidly declining bee population and the high cost of honey, manufacturers dilute this delicious substance with various form of artificial sweeteners. Pollen is removed because it is the only marker that can determine where the honey is sourced. Without pollen, manufacturers can add as many artificial sources as they choose. In 2014 researchers at Texas A& M University tested commercial honeys and concluded that 75 percent of the pollen had been removed.
But there is hope! The FDA recently drafted guidelines that state, “Only manufacturers that do not add sugar, corn syrup or other sweeteners should label their products as pure “honey.” It is also important that we as consumers read labels and know exactly what we’re buying. Don’t have access to the label? Rub the honey between your fingers. If it’s sticky, it’s probably fake.
So what can we do to help? Olivia Box, beekeeper and honey bee researcher suggests, "The absolute best thing you can do is buy local honey. Whether it is from your farmers market or a friend, supporting local beekeepers is key to making sure we can push artifical honey off the market. Be sure to check your labels for where it is from and what is in the honey!"
Besides adding sweetness to our food and free-radical fighters to our bodies, honey has many other beneficial uses. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Allergies acting up? Does your memory need a boost? Add pure honey to your diet and see why It’s the bee’s knees!So grab a jar of the sweet stuff (preferably raw, organic, fair trade) and have at it!
(Warning: The Mayo Clinic does not recommend giving honey to babies under the age of one due to their immature digesive system.)