Bee Brothers Apiary
Silver Bay, New York
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Health Benefits of Honey
Honey has long been recognized as a natural remedy and has been used as a medicine for thousands of years.
Perhaps your parents failed to mention it when they discussed the birds and the bees with you, but honey has long been known to have a multitude of healing powers with everything from relieving a sore throat, allergies, healing wounds, etc. It also goes great with peanutbutter. Now, new scientific research from the University of California, reveals that honey consumption raises antioxidant levels.
In the study, 25 people were told to eat between four and 10 tablespoons of buckwheat honey, depending on their weight, each day for a month. They could eat the honey in almost any form, but it couldn't be baked or dissolved in tea. Many chose to eat straight from the spoon. Antioxidant levels rose in the participants. Antioxidants provide defense against free radicals, which cause cell damage.
Researchers discovered honey contained as many antioxidants - which combat the free radicals which can damage cells - as spinach, apples, oranges or strawberries. Scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say honey appears to have a "mild protective effect".
It was already known that honey contained varying levels of antioxidants, with dark honey having more than light. This is the first study to examine honey's effect on human blood.
In the study, researchers checked the blood of 25 men aged 18 - 68 over five weeks.
They found drinking four tablespoons of honey mixed into a 16-ounce glass of water improved the antioxidant levels in their blood.
The types of flowers the bees pollinate determine flavor and color of honey. Buckwheat honey comes from the buckwheat plant and is dark in color with a distinct flavor. The darker shades of honey are believed to have more antioxidants. The study showed no weight gain in participants for the month they were consuming honey. And, some claimed that eating honey for breakfast actually made them feel full and satisfied.
Eating honey along with supplemental calcium appeared to enhance calcium absorption in rats, according to a study from Purdue University.
In addition, the researchers suggested that the absorption of calcium increased as the amount of honey taken was upped.
Sugar is a crystalline carbohydrate extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets. It is a non-nutritive empty calorie that robs the body of vitamins and minerals. Sugar is addicting. The biggest culprit? Soft drinks, which account for one-third of our total sugar intake.
Approximately one half of the human diet is derived directly or indirectly from crops pollinated by bees. Today honeybees are an essential part of a healthy agriculture economy. If you have allergies, honey can be beneficial. If you eat honey that is local to your area, it may prevent your seasonal allergies. Bees use the pollen from local plants and eventually it ends up in your honey.
Health-promoting compounds found in honey could make this ingredient a more attractive option for food makers currently using bulk sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup and looking to jump on board the growing health foods trend, say scientists in the US.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say that honey may be a healthier alternative to corn syrup due to its higher level of antioxidants, compounds which are believed to fight cancer, heart disease and other diseases. Honey, which contains a number of antioxidant components that act as preservatives, also shows promise as a replacement for some synthetic antioxidants widely used as preservatives in salad dressings and other foods.
High fructose syrups kicked off in the US in the 1970s when the country developed new technologies to process this bulk calorific sweetener. The ingredient, an alternative to sucrose, rapidly gained in popularity and is now used extensively by soft drinks makers such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
Honey, a natural syrup produced by bees is similar to invert sugar, with a small but variable excess of levulose (fructose). The composition and flavor of honey varies with the plant source of the nectar, processing and storage but a typical composition is 41 per cent fructose, 34 per cent glucose, 18 per cent water, and 2 per cent sucrose with a pH of 3.8 to 4.2.
According to the US researchers, dark-colored honey, such as buckwheat honey, is generally thought to contain higher levels of antioxidants than the light-colored varieties. Previous studies by the researchers, who presented their findings this week at the American Chemical Society meeting in Illinois, suggest that honey may have the same level of disease-fighting antioxidants as that of some common fruits.
In international terms China is currently by far the largest honey producing nation in the world, with around a 40 per cent slice of the market. The next biggest producers are the US, Argentina and Ukraine. According to the American Honey Producers Association, China and Argentina have been adversely affecting America’s domestic honey industry with cheap imports, although there is a counter argument that both China and Argentina have been helping to counterbalance falling production in the US. Also starting to emerge onto the world honey production arena are Thailand and Vietnam.
Honey contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and is a wonderful beauty aid that nourishes the skin and the hair. Honey acts as an antibacterial and antifungal agent and helps disinfect and speed the healing process in wounds, scrapes and burns.
- Honey mixed with ground almonds makes an excellent facial cleansing scrub.
A tablespoon of honey whisked together with an egg white, 1 teaspoon of glycerin and about 1/4 cup of flour makes an excellent firming mask. Just smooth on the face, leave on 15 minutes, and rinse off with warm water. You will be pleased with the results.
- Honey also makes a great moisturizing pack. Just mix 2 tablespoons of honey with 2 teaspoons of whole milk, smooth over the face and throat, and let it do its job for 15 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, and finish splashing with cold water.
- Honey also makes a great lotion for dry patches of skin on hands, elbows, or other parts. Just mix 1 teaspoon of honey with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. Apply to hands, elbows, heels of your foot, etc., and wash off after 15 minutes. Fast relief!
- Honey works well on chapped lips and for acne because it has antibacterial properties.
- To give your hair lustrous shine, mix 1 teaspoon of honey into 4 cups of warm water. Use as a hair rinse. And if you're a blond, add the juice of 1 lemon, too.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of honey with a cup of warm water. Use it as a mouthwash. Honey cleans teeth and dentures, and kills germs in the mouth.