The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking, as a spread on bread, and as an addition to various beverages, such as tea, and as a sweetener in some commercial beverages. According to the The National Honey Board (a USDA-overseen organization), “honey stipulates a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance…this includes, but is not limited to, water or other sweeteners”. Honey barbecue and honey mustard are common and popular sauce flavors. Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead, which is also known as “honey wine” or “honey beer”. Historically, the ferment for mead was honey’s naturally occurring yeast. Honey is also used as an adjunct in some beers.
Some says “Honey is water super-saturated with sugar. You got to be kidding yourself if you tell me that it is healthier than any other concentrated sugar product. Sugar is sugar; people eat it because it is a carbohydrate rich in energy. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, the cane or the bees, costing more doesn’t make it any better. So, do not be so naive and delude yourself, the liquid from the bees is just as fattening like any other sugars and can cause problems like obesity and diabetes. It contains traces of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals but the amount is so insignificant that you need to eat tons of it to benefit from it.”
Honey Nutrition Facts
How can we miss these important honey nutrition facts when trying to understand what honey is made of and its benefits? Here we have the information:
Nectar itself is composed mainly of sucrose and water. Bees add enzymesthat create additional chemical compounds, inverting the sucrose into fructose and glucose, and then evaporate the water so that the resulting product will resist spoiling.
Hence, honey is a source of carbohydrates, containing
- 80% natural sugar — mostly fructose and glucose. Due to the high level of fructose, honey is sweeter than table sugar.
- 18% water. The less water content the honey has, the better the quality of honey.
- 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein.
The vitamins present in honey are B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. I learnt that “conductivity” is an indirect way of measuring the mineral content of a honey. Manuka honey has a higher than normal conductivity — about 4 times that of normal flower honeys. The higher the conductivity, the better the value of the honey.
Therapeutic uses of Honey:
- As it contains sugars which are quickly absorbed by our digestive system and converted into energy, this can be used as instant energizer.
- As it is hygroscopic it speeds up healing, growth of healing tissue and dries it up.
- Honey acts as a sedative and is very usefull in bed wetting disorders.
- Honey is very good antioxident which restores the damaged skin and gives soft, young looks.
- Honey has antibacterial properties due to its acidic nature and enzymically produced hydrogen peroxide.
- Constant use of honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles to fight bacteria and viral diseases.
In Ashtanga Hridaya the great classic of ayurveda, the therapeutic uses of honey are explained as follows.
“Chakshushayam Chedi tritshleshmavishahidmaasrapittanut |
Vranashodhana sandhaanaropanam vaatalam madhu ||”
- Honey is very good for eyes and eye sight.
- It quenches thirst.
- Dissolves kapha.
- Reduces effects of poison.
- Stops hiccups.
- It is very useful in urinary tract disorders, worm infestations, bronchial asthma, cough, diarrhea and nausea -vomiting.
- Cleanse the wounds.
- It heals wounds.
- Helps in quick healing of deep wounds.
- Initiates growth of healthy granulation tissue.
- Honey which is newly collected from bee hive increases body weight and is a mild laxative.
- Honey which is stored and is old helps in metabolism of fat and scrapes Kapha.
Ayurveda explains another special quality of honey. Honey is called as “Yogavahi” . The substance which has a quality of penetrating the deepest tissue is called as Yogavahi. When honey is used with other herbal preparations it enhances the medicinal qualities of those preparations and also helps them to reach the deeper tissues.
Precautions to be taken before using honey:
- Honey should not be mixed with hot foods.
- Honey should not be heated.
- Honey should not be consumed when you are working in hot environment where you are exposed to more heat.
- Honey should never be mixed with rain water, hot and spicy foods, and Fermented beverages like whisky, rum, brandy etc, Ghee and mustard.
- Honey includes nectar of various flowers of which some may be poisonous. Poison has hot or Ushna qualities. When honey is mixed with hot and spicy foods the poisonous properties get enhanced and cause imbalance of doshas.
Few Home remedies with Honey
- Mix 2 tea spoon of honey with carrot juice and consume regularly. This helps to improve eyesight and is very helpful for those who sit before computer for long hours.
- In cold, cough and congested chest mix 2 tea spoons of honey with equal quantity of ginger juice and should be consumed frequently.
- A mixture of black pepper powder, honey and ginger juice in equal quantities, when consumed thrice daily help to relieve the symptoms of asthma.
- Regular use of one tea spoon of garlic juice mixed with two tea spoons of honey help to control blood pressure.
- One glass of warm water taken with two tea spoons of honey and 1 tea spoon of lemon juice in early morning reduces fat and purifies blood.
Consuming one spoon of honey daily help us to lead a healthy long life.