Health Tips - Honey

 
Honey

Bees make honey from nectar, a sugar-rich liquid produced by flowers. Honey is a source of energy and food for bees and is often named for the flowers that fed the bees.

The nutrition in 100 grams, or 3.5 oz, roughly 5 tablespoons, of honey is: 82.4 grams carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 17.10 g water, 52 mg potassium, 6 mg calcium, 4 mg phosphorus. Honey is typically 38.2% fructose, 31.3% glucose, 7.1% maltose, and 1.3% sucrose.

Honey, and objects immersed in honey, have been preserved for centuries. The key to preservation is limiting access to humidity. If honey is exposed to moist air, it will pull moisture into the honey. Therefore store honey in closed containers, (never metallic).

Honey has been Shown to be Antibacterial Because:

  • The water in honey is structurally tied up with the sugars and little remains available for microorganisms to use for their growth. If water is mixed with honey, it loses this antimicrobial action.
  • The pH of honey is highly acidic, between 3.2 and 4.5, which prevents the growth of many bacteria. (Once in the body, honey contributes to alkalinity.)
  • When unheated honey is used topically, hydrogen peroxide is slowly released as it mixes with body fluids, acting as an antiseptic. This requires oxygen to be available for the reaction and may not work under wound dressings, in wound cavities or in the gut.
  • Most honey contains low levels of a chemical called methylglyoxal which has an anti-bacterial action. Manuka honey contains levels that double this antibacterial activity.

Uses

  • Topical honey reduces odors, swelling, and scarring when used to treat wounds; it also prevents the dressing from sticking to the healing wound.
  • It has been successfully used as an ointment for rashes and burns, supposedly healing moderate burns faster than traditional dressings.
  • Local raw honey is sought after by allergy sufferers as the pollen impurities are thought to lessen the sensitivity to hay fever.
  • Honey may help handle drug-resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA, and certain infections of the nose and sinus. One New Zealand researcher found Manuka honey to be particularly useful in treating MRSA.
  • Topical honey has been used successfully to treat diabetic ulcers.
  • Honey has been shown to be an effective treatment for conjunctivitis in rats.
  • Ancient Egyptian and Middle-Eastern peoples used honey for embalming the dead.

Note of Caution

Honey sometimes contains a dormant stage of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which is destroyed in the digestive tract of children and adults. Infants under one year of age do not have the digestive ability to handle these cyst-like particles and should not be given honey.

Effects of Heat on Honey

Heat has a poor effect on the nutritional value of honey. Heating up to 98.6°F (37°C) causes loss of nearly 200 components, some of which are antibacterial. Heating up to104°F (40°C) destroys invertase, an important enzyme.

Signs of Heating

  • Label says “pasteurized” which heats honey to at least 135 °F. This process is unnecessary due to honey’s natural antibacterial effect.
  • Label says “ultrafiltered” which heats honey to 150–170 °F (approx. 65-77 °C) to more easily pass through the filter.
  • Honey has crystalized in the bottle. This is not a creamy look, but looks like crystals.
  • Label says “caramelized”, which heats honey to 200 – 410 °F.
  • Darker-colored honey can be a result of heat, as heat darkens the naturally-gold honey color.
  • Label says “raw”, as some honey that has been heated to 140 °F is still labeled raw.

Read all my nutrition tips to find out how easy it is to keep yourself healthy, and how to get healthier faster.

Find and try some “unheated” honey!

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