Since prehistoric times, nearly 5500 years ago, humankind has used honey. Honey has grown in popularity since its introduction to humanity. It has been a natural sweetener since ancient times. They are not just a part of the diet but are a vital part of traditional medical treatments.
Honey has various additional benefits ranging from its role in cancer treatment to the healing of wounds. Honey is made by honeybees from floral nectar.
The only naturally occurring product that comes from an insect is honey, which has uses in various industries like, cosmetics, medicine and nutrition. Honey does not require refrigeration, never gets spoiled, and can also be kept unopened at room temperature in a dry environment.
Honey has a water activity (WA) of roughly 0.56 to 0.62 and a pH value of almost 3.9. Since honey has a high fructose content, it is 25% sweeter than table sugar.
How is honey made?
Isn’t it interesting that 60,000 bees are required to collect enough nectar to produce nearly half a kg of honey? This entails them flying up to 55,000 miles in total and collecting nectar from over 2 million flowers.
Honeybees collect flower nectar on their trips and bring it back to their hive, where they turn it into honey. The worker bees at the hive receive the nectar from the collector bee.
Once the nectar has been collected, the bee stores it in its additional stomach, mixes it with enzymes, and then regurgitates it into the mouth of another bee. This process is continued until the nectar is partially digested, and the nectar is then placed in the honeycomb.
The honeycomb is made up of the younger bees’ wax, which is then formed into cells with a hexagonal shape and sufficient strength to retain honey.
The nectar is poured into the cells by the worker bees. The honey bees then dry the liquid nectar with their wings, causing the water to evaporate and forming the viscous substance we know as honey.
This makes it even stickier, thicker and more spoiled-resistant. More wax is then used by the bees to coat the honeycomb cells, safeguarding the honey during storage.
Beekeepers (People who raise and keep honey bees) employ different techniques to squeeze or otherwise obtain honey from the honeycomb. Some procedures involve melting or otherwise modifying the wax to remove and separate out the raw honey.
While most small-scale beekeepers stop here and sell honey in its raw form, the majority of large-scale producers of honey sold in supermarkets go one step further, purchasing large quantities of honey and diluting, heating and filtering the raw product to remove pollen and other naturally occurring materials.
Colour, Flavour and Fragrance of Honey
The type of flower that produces the nectar determines how honey looks and tastes, and regional weather patterns can also have an impact. As a rule, honey with a lighter colour—like clover, tupelo and alfalfa—has a milder flavour than honey with an amber hue—like orange blossom, avocado and eucalyptus.
The honey with the deepest colours, including those made from buckwheat and knotweed, has the strongest flavours.
Nutritional Components of Honey
According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon of honey contains
- Energy – 64 Kcal
- Carbohydrates – 17 g (All of which comes from sugar)
- Protein – 0 g
- Fat – 0 g
- Fibre – 0 g
Medicinal properties of honey
Honey and cancer
Immune reactions can be modified by honey usage. Honey has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation, trigger apoptosis, alter cell cycle progression and result in mitochondrial membrane depolarization in several cancer types, including skin cancer cells (melanoma), adenocarcinoma epithelial cells, cervical cancer cells, endometrial cancer cells, liver cancer cells, colorectal cancer cells, prostate cancer cells and renal cell carcinoma.
Honey and wound
In contrast to other modern compounds that have failed in this regard, honey is the oldest wound-healing substance known to humans.
Due to its bioactivities, which include antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant functions, experimental studies revealed greater evidence in favour of its use in wound healing.
Diabetes and honey
An article titled “Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research” states that strong evidence supports the positive effects of honey in the management of Type 2 Diabetes.
These findings highlight the therapeutic potential of adding honey or other powerful antioxidants to traditional anti-diabetic medications to manage Diabetes mellitus. It also lowers blood cholesterol, homocysteine and C-reactive protein levels in patients with normal and hyperlipidemic conditions. However, the assertion needs to be supported by further research.
Honey and asthma
Traditional medicine frequently employs honey to cure fever, coughs and inflammation. It has been demonstrated that honey can reduce asthma-related symptoms or act as a preventative measure to stop asthma from developing.
Cardiovascular disorders and honey
Flavonoids, polyphenolics, Vitamin C, and monophenolics—antioxidants found in honey—might be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular failure. The preventive properties of flavonoids, such as antioxidant, antithrombotic, anti-ischemic and vasorelaxant, and flavonoids, lower the incidence of coronary heart problems in people with coronary heart disease.
Neurological disorders and honey
Honey is a promising nutraceutical antioxidant that has been extensively studied in the scientific literature as innovative neuroprotective therapeutics.
Honey reduces the oxidative content of the central nervous system and has anxiolytic, depressive, anticonvulsant and antinociceptive properties. According to studies, polyphenols in honey may contribute to the neuroprotective properties.
9 Health Benefits of Honey
Natural energy booster
It’s time to stop drinking energy drinks and give up the daily cup of coffee. Use honey in place of sugar and other sweeteners for making tea, baking goods or toast.
It is beneficial for enhancing athletic performance owing to its natural sugars and even helps to reduce exhaustion during exercise.
In contrast to fructose, which is absorbed more slowly by the body and offers continuous energy, honey contains glucose, which is swiftly absorbed by the body and delivers an immediate energy boost. In comparison to other sugars, honey has been proven to maintain blood sugar levels quite consistently.
Plays a role in weight management
Even while sleeping, honey burns fat from the body. It is among the finest ingredient for weight loss. Doctors advise consuming a tablespoon of honey before bed.
On an empty stomach, one can drink a small amount of honey mixed with warm water early in the morning. Consuming it first thing in the morning helps promote weight loss by increasing metabolism.
Probiotics, antioxidants, minerals and enzymes in honey contribute to the skin’s nourishment and hydration. While it doesn’t get rid of wrinkles, it reduces their visibility. Antioxidants help repair the effects of sunburn.
Honey is used in the treatment of coughs due to its antibacterial properties. The symptoms of allergies, asthma and sore throats can be relieved by using honey.
The use of honey is advisable for Covid symptom relief, as the ministry of AYUSH recommends. One of the best natural cures for both wet and dry coughs is honey. A tablespoon of honey in any beverage can also soothe the throat.
Since it helps to alleviate nocturnal cough and promotes restful sleep, honey is the favoured natural treatment for cough, particularly in children.
Natural sleeping aid
A teaspoon of honey promotes uninterrupted sleep by causing a slow, consistent rise in insulin, which then transforms into the sleep-inducing chemicals melatonin and serotonin.
Soaking in a honey-infused bath helps achieve relaxing goals. Use the tried-and-true milk and honey sleep cure.
It only takes a teaspoon of honey to sweeten a cup of hot milk. Honey releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that elevates mood, and the body transform serotonin into melatonin, a chemical molecule that governs the length and quality of sleep.
A cup of chamomile tea mixed with a teaspoon of honey is an effective sleeping aid.
The digestive tract and immunity benefit from honey’s antibacterial and antioxidant properties. The antioxidants in it also work wonders to get rid of free radicals from the body.
Make a cup of warm water as a morning beverage by adding a tablespoon of honey and some lemon juice (from half of a lemon). Use the benefits of this by consuming it before breakfast.
Improves heart health
Honey may assist in promoting heart health, lowering blood pressure, controlling heartbeat, stopping the death of healthy cells and regulating heartbeat. Propolis is a component of raw honey and is a form of bee-produced resin that lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Antioxidants in honey may help lower cholesterol. To treat ailments, honey should be used in moderation.
Many people experience sinus-related issues due to rising pollution and dust levels. Sinuses secrete mucus to guard the respiratory system from allergies and infections.
When our body has an infection, the viruses block our sinuses, trapping air and mucus. This makes us feel uncomfortable. Honey has antibacterial and antiseptic properties that aid in clearing infections and reducing inflammation. Furthermore, honey soothes the throat, reduces coughs and boosts the immune system, preventing sinus episodes.
Helps gum diseases
The antibacterial and infection-healing qualities of honey aid in the treatment and recovery of wounds. Gingivitis, bleeding and plaque are just a few of the teeth and gum conditions that can be greatly reduced by using honey regularly.
Honey releases antiseptic hydrogen peroxide, which functions as an anti-microbial agent to stop bacterial growth. The usage of raw honey combined with water as mouthwash is advisable. Applying honey directly to the infected gums provides immediate pain, inflammation and other periodontal disease relief.
Benefits of honey for skin and hair
Things honey can do to the skin and hair are unbelievable.
Honey, sometimes known as a golden elixir, has several uses, including being a natural sugar alternative and a cosmetic component. Honey contains high concentrations of almost all nutrients beneficial for skin and hair.
Honey has necessary components for dermatological uses, including proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antibacterial properties. Honey’s antioxidant and antibacterial properties can also prevent various hair issues. Overall, honey must be a staple in the cosmetic routine.
Honey is an excellent component for lubricating the skin and retaining moisture, making it perfect for lip balms, lotions, shampoos, and facial scrubs, among other beauty products.
Sometimes, proponents of natural skincare and cosmetics advise techniques like rubbing honey straight on acne and chapped lips or dissolving a spoonful of honey in four glasses of warm water to use as a hair rinse for more shine.
Ways to use honey
Honey can be incorporated into the diet in the following ways.
- Top a nut butter sandwich with honey.
- Blend into smoothies or combine with yoghurt and fruit in a bowl.
- Honey and ginger also make a delectable coating for salmon.
- It can be added to sweeten green salad and vegetables.
- Make your own honey-mustard sauce for dipping chicken fingers and spreading on sandwiches by combining with equal parts mustard and a tiny bit of mayonnaise.
- Use it as cupcake icing or spread it on muffins or quick bread.
- In addition to grated lemon, orange, grapefruit or lime zest (peel), one can also try crushed cinnamon or ginger in whipped cream cheese or ricotta.
For many, honey can be many different things. It is an age-old traditional cure for health and healing as well as a nourishing natural sweetener, concentrated energy source and food. In addition, honey is a key component of cosmetics and skincare products and is being studied in medicine.
Using honey to treat disease-related symptoms is proven in many studies. According to studies, honey’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic and antioxidant characteristics may be the cause of its therapeutic effects.
What is the best time to eat honey?
Taking honey on an empty stomach in the morning is advisable since it gives an immediate kick and energy boost that will last the whole day. A tablespoon of honey before bed not only promotes restful sleep but also aids in digestion and body and mind relaxation.
Can honey go bad?
Honey doesn’t typically go bad. But if it’s polluted or stored improperly, it might spoil. It’s time to throw away the honey if it has visible mould or if it smells fermented or otherwise strange.
Is it healthy to eat honey daily?
Improvements in heart health, wound healing and blood antioxidant status have all been associated with the consumption of honey. The high sugar and calorie content, however, makes excessive consumption potentially harmful. Due to this, it’s recommended to use honey in place of other sugars and only consume a small amount of it at a time.
What is the benefit of drinking hot water with honey?
It can remove toxins from the body, boost metabolism and give a healthy feeling. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties of honey are also responsible for the amazing healing effects of warm water and honey. Drinking warm water and honey may help with cough relief, digestion and sleep.