Honey is an organic, nature’s most natural sweetener that is easy on the stomach, adapts to all cooking processes, has been used for centuries as a home remedy for various ailments and has an indefinite shelf-life due to its high concentration of sugar.
It is made by honey bees and consists mainly of water and carbohydrates, raw honey also contains vitamins and minerals including B vitamins B2, B3 and B5 and the minerals calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and iron. Honey also contains a good range of antioxidants in the form of flavonoids.
The various forms of honey include liquid, comb, cut-comb, solid (granulated or crystallized), and chunk. Varietal flavors are determined by floral source. The color of honey comes from the nectar of the plants. The lightest colors of honey have the mildest flavors (alfalfa, orange blossom & clover), while the darker colors have bolder, more distinct flavors (buckwheat or avocado blossoms). Experts says the darker the honey, the higher its concentration of healing substances.
Healthy Foods – Benefits of using Honey in your diet:
- Honey is a natural energy restorer, easily digested and absorbed into the bloodstream; it’s not quite as high on GI as sugar and glucose syrup.
- Honey has a laxative effect on the digestion system of an individual and helps provide relief from constipation.
- Honey has been associated with treatment of persistent coughs and sore throat.
- Consumption of honey is believed to provide relief from diarrhea and dysentery.
- Honey has been found to have anti-bacterial properties, which seem to increase when it is diluted with water.
- Honey helps in cleansing blood and has positive effects on the regulation of blood circulation.
- Having antiseptic properties, honey is good for treating burns, infected surgical wounds and ulcers.
- Honey is easily digested by the most sensitive stomachs and helps kidneys and intestines function better.
- Honey is good for improving appetite, especially in children.
- Honey reduces the production of acid in the mouth and thus, is good for maintaining oral health.
- Being lower in calories, as compared to sugar, and having a very low fat content, honey is good for those trying to lose weight.
- Honey, with properties to make the body heal faster, helps in convalescence.
- Majority of the allergies can be treated with raw honey.
- When used in the form of face packs, honey helps in rejuvenating the skin and also helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Honey is not recommended for babies under one year of age. Although honey is a natural, healthy food that normally cannot support bacterial life, it’s important to note that it can carry C. botulinum spores which may be harmful to the undeveloped immune systems and can cause severe illness in infants. Many doctors and other medical and nutrition experts recommend not giving babies honey until they are a year old.
Making Healthy Foods – Use of Honey
- It’s very easy to substitute honey for sugar in your recipes. Honey is up to twice as sweet as table sugar, so you will need to reduce the amount called for in the recipe by one-third to one-half honey for granulated or table sugar. Also, since honey is composed of up to 18% water, you will need to reduce the liquid called for in baked goods by about one-fifth. When baking sweets, you should also lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees F. (15 degrees C.).
- Since it has the ability to absorb and retain moisture, honey is used in the industry to keep baked goods moist and fresh.
- Honey is also an excellent choice to use in salad dressings, since its emulsifying qualities make it a perfect stabilizer.
- To enjoy sweetened yogurt without excess sugar, mix a little honey into plain yoghurt.
- In a saucepan over low heat, combine soymilk, honey and unsweetened dark chocolate to make a deliciously nutritious chocolate drink.