Basically, Natural Honey can be a wonderful alternative to refined sugar which is just a source of empty calories. This lovely ingredient made by nature can not only sweeten your life but it is also abundant in minerals, nutrients, and living enzymes. And if you want to enjoy the benefits of using honey, you must consider its purity before buying.
The biggest problem with honey is its quality. It can be quite a challenge to find good, pure honey. Like many other food commodities, adulteration is common. It is easy to cheat you as commercial honey can often be mixed with glucose solution, high fructose corn syrup, and other ingredients you may not even know about.
Sometimes, when you open the jar of honey and hear a little ‘pop’ sound that could signal that the honey has been adulterated as some fermentation process may have taken place inside it. The best quality honey comes from bees and not factories and so, a good starting point would be to read the ingredient label.
Look out for words like ‘raw’, ‘natural’, ‘forest honey’, or ‘organic’ – they may be safer than regular honey. But, since food regulations remain a bit dodgy, you can never be too sure and this may not be a foolproof way. So, can you really tell the difference between real and fake honey? To know the truth, test it at home.
What Is Natural Honey?
Raw Honey or rather Natural Honey is the most original sweet liquid that honeybees produce from the concentrated nectar of flowers. In that case, collected straight from the honey extractor; it is totally unheated, unpasteurized, unprocessed pure honey.
Since natural honey is thickened and sweetened by honeybees, it’s loaded with a variety of healthy and beneficial plant compounds. Therefore, raw honey is best described as honey in its purest form and directly from the beehive.
However, there’s controversy surrounding which type of honey — raw or regular — is healthiest. Whereby, some people believe that the raw variety of natural honey is better for optimal health. While others claim there is no difference between the two. So, how is honey obtained?
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Natural honey is made by extracting honey from the honeycombs of the hive and pouring it over a mesh or nylon cloth. Especially, to separate the honey from impurities like beeswax and dead bees. Once strained, raw honey is bottled and ready to be enjoyed.
On the other hand, the production of regular honey involves several more steps before it is bottled — such as pasteurization and filtration. Whereby, Pasteurization is a process that destroys the yeast found in honey by applying high heat. This helps extend the shelf life and makes it smoother.
Also, filtration further removes impurities like debris and air bubbles so that the honey stays as a clear liquid for longer. This is aesthetically appealing to many consumers.
Then again, some commercial honey is additionally processed by undergoing ultrafiltration. This process further refines it to make it more transparent and smooth. But, it can also remove beneficial nutrients like pollen, enzymes, and antioxidants. Always remember, that some manufacturers may add sugar or sweeteners to honey to reduce costs.
Natural vs. Regular Honey
Nutritionally, 1 tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar, including fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose. In addition, it contains virtually no fiber, fat, or protein. It also contains trace amounts — under 1% of the RDI — of several vitamins and minerals.
But, you would have to eat many pounds to fulfill your daily requirements. Where honey shines is in its content of bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants. Darker types tend to be even higher in these compounds than lighter types. But, how do you spot and tell the difference?
In the first place, natural honey comes straight from the honeycomb. The beekeeper will usually just filter the honey to remove small bits of debris. Including pollen, beeswax, and parts of dead bees.
They do not pasteurize the honey. In addition, natural honey tends to have more variation in color and texture than regular honey. The color of raw honey may change depending on what flowers the bees pollinated.
Regular, or pasteurized honey, is clear and smooth. The pasteurization process improves the honey’s appearance, increases its shelf-life, and kills yeast cells that can affect the taste of the honey.
However, some people believe that pasteurization reduces the number of antioxidants and nutrients in honey. While no large studies have confirmed that raw honey is more nutritious than regular honey, some small studies suggest that raw honey may offer extra health benefits.
What Are The Benefits Of Natural Honey?
One thing is for sure, natural honey has been used as a folk remedy throughout history and has a variety of health benefits and medical uses. Not forgetting, it’s even used in some hospitals as a treatment for wounds.
Many of these health benefits are specific to raw, or unpasteurized, honey. Most of the honey you find in grocery stores is pasteurized. The high heat kills unwanted yeast, can improve the color and texture, removes any crystallization, and extends the shelf life.
Many of the beneficial nutrients are also destroyed in the process. So, with this in mind, below are some other health benefits raw honey has to offer:
1. Healing wounds and burns
Surprisingly, Manuka honey (made in Australia and New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush) is used in medical settings to treat wounds. Because it’s been found to be an effective germ killer and also aids in tissue regeneration. Additionally, studies show that Manuka honey can boost healing time and reduce infection.
Keep in mind that the honey used in hospital settings is medical grade, meaning it’s inspected and sterile. It’s not a good idea to treat cuts with honey you buy from a store. When applied to the skin, honey can be part of an effective treatment plan for burns, wounds, and many other skin conditions. It is particularly effective for diabetic foot ulcers.
2. Helps soothe a sore throat
Do you have a cold? Try a spoonful of honey. Honey is an old sore throat remedy. Add it to hot tea with lemon when a cold virus hits you. It also works as a cough suppressant.
Research has suggested that honey is as effective as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cough medication. Just take one or two teaspoonfuls, straight.
3. Natural honey aids digestion
By the same token, natural honey is sometimes used to treat digestive issues. Such as diarrhea, though there isn’t much research to show that it works. It’s proven to be effective as a treatment for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, though, a common cause of stomach ulcers.
Equally important, it’s also a potent prebiotic, meaning it nourishes the good bacteria that live in the intestines, which are crucial not only for digestion but overall health.
4. It is a phytonutrient powerhouse
For your information, Phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that help protect the plant from harm. For example, some keep insects away or shield the plant from ultraviolet radiation.
Having said that, therefore, the phytonutrients in honey are responsible for its antioxidant properties, as well as its antibacterial and antifungal power. They’re also thought to be the reason raw honey has shown immune-boosting and anticancer benefits. Heavy processing destroys these valuable nutrients.
5. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties
Research has shown that raw honey can kill unwanted bacteria and fungus. It naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic. Again, its effectiveness as an antibacterial or antifungal varies depending on the honey, but it’s clearly more than a folk remedy for these kinds of infections. It also provides an adequate source of antioxidants.
Raw honey contains an array of plant chemicals that act as antioxidants. Some types of honey have as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help to protect your body from cell damage due to free radicals.
Free radicals contribute to the aging process and may also contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Research shows that antioxidant compounds in honey called polyphenols may play a role in preventing heart disease.
6. It helps improve cholesterol
High LDL cholesterol levels are a strong risk factor for heart disease. This type of cholesterol plays a major role in atherosclerosis, the fatty buildup in your arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Interestingly, several studies show that honey may improve your cholesterol levels.
It reduces total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while significantly raising “good” HDL cholesterol. For example, one study in 55 patients compared honey to table sugar and found that honey caused a 5.8% reduction in LDL and a 3.3% increase in HDL cholesterol. It also led to a modest weight loss of 1.3%.
7. It can help lower Triglycerides
Elevated blood triglycerides are another risk factor for heart disease. They are also associated with insulin resistance, a major driver of type 2 diabetes. Triglyceride levels tend to increase on a diet high in sugar and refined carbs.
Interestingly, multiple studies have linked honey consumption with lower triglyceride levels. Especially, when used in place of sugar. For example, one study comparing honey and sugar found 11–19% lower triglyceride levels in the honey group.
Does Natural Honey Have Any Health Risks?
Of course, not all raw honey is organic. For one thing, organic honey may still have undergone processing and pasteurization. It is safe for people to consume both raw and regular honey.
Although it’s also a good idea to avoid types of honey that contain added sugars. Both raw and regular honey may contain tiny amounts of bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria can cause botulism, which is a rare form of food poisoning.
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Honey is safe for most people over 12 months of age. However, infants 12 months of age and younger should not eat any honey, including raw and regular honey. A baby’s digestive tract has not yet developed enough to fight off the bacteria.
In rare cases, people who have a severe pollen allergy may react to raw honey, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. People who have severe pollen allergies should speak with a doctor or allergist before eating or using raw honey. People who are allergic to bee pollen should also avoid raw honey and other bee products.
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