Honey contains a treasure chest of hidden nutritional and medicinal value for centuries. The sweet golden liquid from the beehive is a popular kitchen staple loaded with antibacterial and antifungal properties that has been used since the early days of Egyptian tombs.
Honey’s scientific super powers contribute to its vastly touted health benefits for the whole body. The healthy natural sweetener offers many nutritional benefits depending on its variety.
Raw honey is the unpasteurized version of commonly used honey and only differs in its filtration, which helps extend its shelf life. A tablespoon of raw honey contains 64 calories, is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free, says the National Honey Board. Its composition is roughly 80 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent water, and two percent vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Typically, honey is sweet but can be cruel to infants. Spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria — found in dirt and dust, which can contaminate honey — may lead to infant botulism and produce a toxin inside the body that can cause muscle weakness and breathing problems.
The Mayo Clinic recommends waiting until after 12 months of age to give infants honey; consumption is safe for older adults and kids, since they have a mature digestive system that can handle the spores.
Consume honey responsibly and reap the numerous health benefits of this liquid gold.
1. Alleviates Allergies
Honey’s anti-inflammatory effects and ability to soothe coughs has led to the belief it can also reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. Although there are no clinical studies proving its efficacy, Dr. Matthew Brennecke, a board certified naturopathic doctor practicing at the Rocky Mountain Wellness Center in Fort Collins, Colo., told Medical Daily in an email, “A common theory is that honey acts like a natural vaccine.” It contains small amounts of pollen, which if the body is exposed to small amounts of it, it can trigger an immune response that produces antibodies to the pollen. “After repeated exposure, you should build up these antibodies and the body should become accustomed to their presence so that less histamine is released, resulting in a lesser allergic response.”
2. All-Natural Energy Drink
Honey is an excellent source of all-natural energy at just 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. This natural unprocessed sugar — fructose and glucose — directly enter the bloodstream and can deliver a quick boost of energy. The rise in blood sugar acts as a short-term energy source for your workout, especially in longer endurance exercises.
Brennecke said there is a con to adding honey to your workout. “If your goal in exercising is to increase muscle mass, working out on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is the way to go. When your body is in starvation mode (upon waking in morning), and you start exercising, you release insulin-like growthfactor-1 (IGF-1), which will help you build bulk,” he said. Brennecke does warn this only works when blood sugars are low.
3. Boosts Memory
The sweet nectar is loaded in antioxidants that may help prevent cellular damage and loss within the brain. A 2011 study published in Menopause found a daily spoonful of Malaysian honey may boost postmenopausal women’s memory, which can provide an alternative therapy for the hormone-related intellectual decline. After four months of taking 20 grams of honey a day, the women were more likely to have better short-term memory than their counterparts who took hormone pills.
Honey’s ability to help the body absorb calcium, according to Brennecke, helps aid brain health. The brain needs calcium in order to process thought and make decisions. “As our populations continue to get older and older, the likelihood of dementia setting in because of poor intake of vitamins and minerals continues to get higher and higher,” he said.
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