There are so many medicinal foods found on the earth, and raw honey is no exception. Not only is it medicinal, but it’s also sweet and delicious. It’s used as a sweetener in tea and desserts, and it gets drizzled over acai bowls and yogurt. Some people even just enjoy it by the spoonful!
How Is Honey Made?
But what is honey? It comes from bees, but how is it made? The process is impressive. It’s amazing how much work bees have to do to make honey! When the bees extract the nectar from flowers, they store it in their bellies, also known as their crop. In their crop, the nectar mixes with their enzymes to adjust the pH and chemical composition. When the bee returns to the hive, it shares the nectar with another bee by spitting it into its mouth. The process repeats until it’s put into the honeycomb.
However, the honey in the honeycomb is not the thick, decadent honey you know and love. It’s watered down, so the bees fan their wings to evaporate the water. After the bee has worked hard to evaporate most of the water from the honey, it then uses a liquid from its stomach to seal the honeycomb. Now the honey is protected from both air and water, so it can be stored for months on end. And that process is how honey is made! Pretty crazy, right?
What Is Raw Honey?
What’s the difference between raw honey and honey you find in the grocery store? Most of the honey you see on grocery store shelves has been pasteurized to remove yeast and crystallization, and to extend its shelf life. Pasteurization also helps improve honey’s color and taste. Raw honey is superior, however, because there is no pasteurization/heat involved; all the medicinal properties of honey are still intact.
Speaking of the medicinal properties of honey and health benefits of raw honey, what are they?
1. Raw Honey Has Antibacterial and Antimicrobial Properties
This is why raw honey is considered food as medicine. When a food can kill off harmful bacteria and microbes, it’s medicine! It’s effective against pathogens like E. coli and salmonella, along with bacteria like staphylococci and streptococci—even antibiotic-resistant strains! Raw honey also accelerates wound healing and it’s helpful with the treatment of burn wounds, bed sores, and ulcers—all part of its healing properties. Because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, raw honey is also effective in soothing a sore throat and works as a natural cough medicine. Having a spoonful of raw honey every day will do wonders for your immune system!
2. Raw Honey Has Antioxidants
In a study done at UC Davis, subjects were given 4 tablespoons of honey for 29 days. Nothing else in their diet was changed, and by the end of the study, bloodwork proved that the antioxidant levels in the bodies of the participants were significantly higher due to the polyphenols (antioxidant-rich compounds found in plant foods) contained in honey. This is important because too many free radicals in the body create oxidative stress, which can lead to illness and disease. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance in free radicals compared to antioxidants. This can cause damage to cells and DNA, which is why it can lead to illness and disease. With the powerful antioxidants in honey, you can fight the free radicals to have a healthier body. The old saying is “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but what about “a spoonful of honey a day keeps the free radicals at bay?”
3. Raw Honey Provides Energy
Think about the sport gels that athletes use to fuel their bodies before a big game. It’s mostly glucose because that’s what the body runs on! Honey is primarily fructose and glucose so it’s a natural energy source for the body. Along with natural carbohydrate sugars, honey contains nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that all play into providing the body with energy. It’s a perfect way to get a boost of energy or fuel your athletic performance.
Sourcing Raw Honey
So where can you get raw honey? When it comes to sourcing your honey, your best bet is to buy raw local honey. This is because the flowers that the bees take nectar from will be local to your area so it will help with seasonal allergies and boost your immunity to bacterias and viruses in your area.
Now that you know the medicinal properties of honey products and know what types of honey to buy, what should you do with it? The good thing about raw honey is that you can use it in many ways. The flavor is so good that you can easily add it into your daily menu.
- In the morning, you can add it to your tea or to sweeten up your morning smoothie.
- At lunchtime, you can mix it into a salad dressing.
- At dinner, you can make honey-roasted carrots for a sweet and decadent side dish!
Honey doesn’t always have to be used in a sweet preparation. It can be used to balance out spices or even used as a face mask! Keeping a jar of raw honey in your kitchen will add more sweetness and flavor to your life, and also help keep you healthy!
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
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