(Continued from page 1...)
Honey's other possible uses in medicine
New research is always finding new possible uses of honey in treating certain conditions and diseases. One study found that Manuka honey may prevent radiation-induced dermatitis in breast cancer patients.
The history of honey
- Over four thousand years ago, honey was used as a traditional ayurvedic medicine, where it was thought to be effective at treating material imbalances in the body.
- In pre-Ancient Egyptian times, honey was used topically to treat wounds.1.
- Egyptian medicinal compounds more than five millennia ago used honey.
- The ancient Greeks believed that consuming honey could help you live longer.
- Even the Prophet Mohammed glorified the healing powers of honey.
- The Quran also praises honey's healing ability:
"And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men's) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought."
The beneficial properties of honey have been explored in modern times, and there is evidence to suggest that these historical claims may hold some truth.
Properties of honey
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one tablespoon of honey (approximately 21 grams) contains 64 calories, 17.3 grams of carbohydrate (17.3 grams of sugar no fiber), 0 grams of fat and 0 grams of protein.9
Honey contains negligible amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Choosing honey over sugar results in a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels that is believed to help with hunger levels. Honey is also known to have antioxidant, antimicrobial and soothing effects.8
Below is a typical honey profile, according to BeeSource:2
- Fructose: 38.2%
- Glucose: 31.3%
- Maltose: 7.1%
- Sucrose: 1.3%
- Water: 17.2%
- Higher sugars: 1.5%
- Ash: 0.2%
- Other/undetermined: 3.2%
The slightly acidic pH level of honey (between 3.2 and 4.5) is what helps prevent the growth of bacteria, while its antioxidant constituents cleans up free radicals. The physical properties of honey vary depending on the specific flora that was used to produce it, as well as its water content.
How to incorporate more honey into your diet
Experimentation is key when substituting honey for sugar. Baking with honey can cause excess browning and moisture. As a general rule, use ¾ cup of honey for every one cup of sugar, reduce the liquid in the recipe by 2 tablespoons and lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use honey to sweeten your dressings or marinades
- Stir honey into coffee or tea
- Drizzle honey on top of toast or pancakes
- Mix honey into yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal for a more natural sweetener
- Spread raw honey over whole grain toast and top with peanut butter.
Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:Honey-glazed roasted sweet potatoes
Basil honey mango sorbet
Honey Dijon vinaigrette with arugula, pear and walnut salad
Grilled fruit kebabs.
If stored in an airtight container, honey can be kept indefinitely.
Potential health risks of consuming honey
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.
Honey is still a form of sugar and intake should be moderate. The American Heart Association recommends that women get no more than 100 calories a day from added sugars; men no more than 150 calories a day. This is a little over two tablespoons for women and three tablespoons for men.
Honey may contain botulinum endospores that cause infant botulism, a rare but serious type of food poisoning that can result in paralysis. Even pasteurized honey has a chance of containing these spores. For this reason, it is recommended that infants under 1 year do not consume honey.
Have you enjoyed reading about the potential health benefits of honey? Take a look at our collection of articles about other fruits and vegetables.
Alternatively, read our article about the top 10 healthy foods for your daily diet.