by Deborah DeLong from Romancing the Bee
One of the many great things about Farmer’s Markets is that you can find unprocessed honey, also known as raw honey, for sale. Most of the honey sold in grocery stores has been pasteurized and sometimes blended with cane sugar or corn syrup. However, raw honey is naturally antiseptic and does not need pasteurization.
People have been using raw honey for its health benefits for millennia. Raw honey contains pollen, enzymes, antioxidants and many other beneficial compounds that researchers are just beginning to discover. These compounds largely disappear during processing. The general rule is the darker the raw honey, the more nutritious it is.
Allergic Relief. Recent research supports the theory that local honey – obtained as close as possible to where you live – may help build an immunity to seasonal allergies. Honey made by bees in the vicinity of an allergenic plant will contain tiny amounts of pollen from that plant. This honey will act as a sort of vaccine if taken in small amounts – a few teaspoons per day – for several months, and can provide relief from seasonal pollen-related allergies.
Antioxidants. Raw honey contains powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants, while pasteurized honey does not.
Digestive Aid. Raw honey contains many enzymes that can help some people digest food more easily, so it may also help treat ulcers and diarrhea.
Vitamins and Minerals. The nutrient content of raw honey varies (darker honey is more nutritious), but a 1 ounce serving typically contains very small amounts of folate as well as vitamins C, B2, B6, B5, and B3. Minerals including calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc are also found in raw honey.
Wound and Skin Care. Honey has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties. It is used by the medical profession to treat wounds, burns, and various other skin conditions including acne.
Cough Suppressant. Honey is also useful in treating upper respiratory infections. Studies have shown that a small dose of raw honey was more effective than an over-the-counter cough treatment. Be sure not to give any honey, either raw or treated, to a child under the age of 12 months.
Blood sugar regulation. Even though honey contains simple sugars, some researchers believe it does not affect the body in the same way as white sugar or artificial sweeteners. Honey’s exact combination of fructose and glucose may actually help the body better regulate blood sugar levels.
In addition to its health benefits, it is a scientific fact that cooking with honey makes food taste better. Honey contains gluconic acid, a completely safe and natural flavor enhancer. According to the National Honey Board, honey “balance and enhances the flavor profiles of other ingredients used in a recipe.”
A little honey makes everything better!
Deborah Delong is our resident honey expert and a member of thePlate Community. As an urban beekeeper and English Gardener, its no wonder she knows a thing or two about honey! Deborah is also a writer, management consultant and lawyer. Her blog is all about making beekeeping beautiful and we love her unique spin on health and nutrition. To learn more about Deborah or beekeeping, check out her blog Romancing the Bee and be sure to follow her on Twitter.