Not only is honey extremely tasty, it is also associated with many health benefits. (Image: weyo / stock.adobe.com)
Health Benefits of Honey
Thousands of years ago humans used honey for food. The popular sweetener doesn’t have much less calories than sugar, but it has a stronger sweetening power. And the natural product has many health benefits.
Many people use honey primarily as a natural sweetener. But the natural product can also have benefits for your body, explains certified nutritionist Mira Ilic in an article from the famous Cleveland Clinic (USA).
How honey is made
Honey is a liquid sweetener made by bees. After collecting the nectar from the flowers, they bring it back to the hive and smother it again and give it to the other worker bees, then pass it on again. The nectar is enriched with enzymes, proteins, acids and other substances. Bees store honey in honeycombs which are sealed with wax that animals produce in their bodies. The sweetness comes from its chemical composition: honey is mainly composed of fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose (grape sugar) sugars.
Hundreds of different varieties
There are hundreds of different types of honey. Among other things, raw honey is available: it comes directly from the hive. “Raw honey is the least processed and probably contains the most antioxidants,” Ilic says. Even if it is raw, it is considered safe to eat. But there is one exception: children under one year old should avoid all honey. Pasteurized honey, on the other hand, was processed to kill bacteria and improve shelf life. “Not all honeys sold in stores are created equal, although it all starts naturally in the hive.”
Light or dark color
Whether the honey is light or dark in color depends on the type of plant from which the bees that made it obtained the nectar. “For example, black buckwheat provides black honey,” Ilic explains. “From a nutritional standpoint, darker honey has been shown to contain less water and more antioxidants than light honey.” Honey tastes so many different, says the nutritionist, “It can be sweeter or bitter depending on the source of the flower.”
Light honey tends to have a mild taste, for example acacia honey. This variety is very liquid and clear and has a floral aroma, very smooth and light. According to Ilic, it is suitable, among other things, to sweeten tea or mueslis. It also brings to mind clover honey, which is widespread in the United States. “It has a flowery and sweet taste and a slightly sour aftertaste,” says Ilic. “It’s good for baking, sauces and dressings.”
Black honeys are known for their stronger flavors, for example buckwheat honey. “This full-bodied honey can be used for marinades,” explains the nutritionist. Manuka honey is considered by many to be the most valuable honey in the world for health. “Studies have shown that it has antioxidants, as well as antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s also expensive, ”Ilic adds. The healing properties of Manuka honey range from relief of burns, sores, acne, herpes and neurodermatitis to help with colds and gastrointestinal disorders.
Is Crystallized Honey Bad?
Honey should be stored in a cool place away from sunlight. But despite ideal storage, honey can sometimes crystallize and solidify. “Honey with a higher glucose / fructose ratio crystallizes sooner,” says Ilic. “Glucose can also attach itself to the small honeycomb and pollen particles of raw honey and thus crystallize more easily.” But crystallized honey can also be consumed without problem: Ilic recommends using it as a spread. You can also liquefy it again by placing the container in a lukewarm water bath.
The health benefits of honey
Honey contains antioxidants, minerals, and enzymes that have many potential health benefits. Honey is proven to relieve coughs. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have confirmed that honey can be used as a natural cough suppressant. It is also suitable for the treatment of wounds and burns: Pharmaceutical grade manuka honey dressings have been used in clinical settings to treat burns and ulcers. “Many other claims have been made about the health benefits of honey – some are based on very small studies, others are overestimated and based on mixed study results,” Ilic says. “Further studies are needed.” (Ad)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and ongoing studies and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
Cleveland Clinic: The Benefits of Honey + How to Incorporate It into Your Diet, (accessed October 14, 2020), Cleveland Clinic
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.