Did you know honey is one of the oldest sweeteners on Earth? Not only is it yummy, adding a burst of flavor to pretty much anything, but honey is a power-food with benefits galore. 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.
But, not all honey is created equal.
This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to buy raw local honey and incorporate it into your life. Believe it or not the artificial honey market is growing, due to the rapidly declining bee population and the high cost of honey. Manufacturers dilute this delicious substance with various forms of artificial sweeteners. But eating raw and local honey preserves micronutrients and enzymes that assures many positive health side-effects.
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 farmer’s market or a friend, supporting local beekeepers is key to making sure we can push artificial honey off the market. Be sure to check your labels for where it is from and what is in the honey." Buying from local farmers also helps the local economy!
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.
Benefits of Honey
- Honey is a natural source of carbohydrates, which provides our bodies with instant energy and strength. When it comes to athletic performance, honey improves endurance and plays a key role in preventing fatigue during exercise. So before your next workout, grab a spoonful of honey for that extra push. Or if you’re feeling lethargic in the morning, try putting honey on toast or replacing the sugar in your drink with some honey for a quick energy boost.
- Honey also has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Honey helps make your digestive system run smoothly and keep you healthy and disease-free.
- The antibacterial qualities are especially helpful for moisturizing and nourishing the skin. Check out this beauty treatment recipe for a carrot face mask which contains honey.
- Locally grown, raw honey contains immune-stimulating properties that help our bodies adapt to our environment. This means honey can boost your immune system.
- Although honey contains simple sugars, ironically, it also helps regulate blood sugar. Honey’s combination of fructose and glucose aids the body in regulating blood-sugar levels.
How can you use honey?
Use honey in the foods you eat. Spread it on a bagel or muffin.
Pour some in your coffee or tea.
Even consume a teaspoonful for a sweet treat after dinner.
You can also use honey on scrapes and scratches or minor skin ulcers. Dab a little on your bandage and cover your injury.
And next time you feel a cold coming on, grab a local bottle of honey, and you’ll experience the benefits!
Other fun facts about honey:
· Honey is a natural cure in first-aid treatments of cuts and burns.
· Honey can help combat hangovers.
· Honey can soothe a sore throat and kill the bacteria that causes the infection.
· Honey can even help sleeplessness. Just take a glass of hot milk and mix with a teaspoon of honey to induce sleep.
So grab a jar of the sweet stuff (preferably raw, organic, fair trade) and have at it! Also by posting a picture of how you used honey this week, #bebetter52 will donate extra money to Every Mother Counts. Let’s all Be Better this week.
(Warning: The Mayo Clinic does not recommend giving honey to babies under the age of one due to their immature digestive system.)