Health Benefits Of Honey

Published: 18th February 2009
Views: N/A

Honey is much more than just a liquid sweetener. One of the oldest medicines known to man, honey has been used in the treatment of respiratory diseases, skin ulcers, wounds, urinary diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff. Today, we know the validity of these timeless treatments, as research has demonstrated that honey can inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses.

The power of honey comes from the wide range of compounds present in the rich amber liquid. Honey contains at least 181 known substances, and its antioxidant activity stems from the phenolics, peptides, organic acids, and enzymes. Honey also contains salicylic acid, minerals, alpha-tocopherol, and oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides increase the number of "good" bacteria in the colon, reduce levels of toxic metabolites in the intestine, help prevent constipation, and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

The key point to remember with honey is that its antioxidant ability can vary widely depending on the floral source of the honey and its processing. The phenolic content of the honey depends on the pollen that the bees have used as raw material. There's a very simple way to determine the health benefits of any honey: its colour. In general, the darker the colour of the honey the higher the level of antioxidants.

There can be a twenty fold difference in honey's antioxidant activity, as one test revealed. For example, Illinois buckwheat honey, the darkest honey tested, had twenty times the antioxidant activity of California sage honey, one of the lightest-coloured honeys tested. Overall, colour predicted more than sixty percent of the variation in honey's antioxidant capacity.

Maintaining optimal blood sugar levels has a positive effect on overall health, and honey seems to contribute to this goal. In one recent study of thirty-nine male and female athletes, following a workout, the participants ate a protein supplement blended with a sweetener. Those who ate the supplement sweetened with honey, as opposed to sugar or maltodextrin, enjoyed the best results. They maintained optimal blood sugar levels for two hours following the workout and enjoyed better muscle recuperation.

There are more than three hundred kinds of honey in North America, such as clover, buckwheat, and orange blossom. Light-coloured honeys are generally mildly flavoured, while dark honeys are more robust.

Perhaps honey's most important health-promoting benefit is its antioxidant ability. We know that daily consumption of honey raises blood levels of protective antioxidants. In one study, each day participants were given about four tablespoons of buckwheat honey while eating their regular diets for twenty-nine days. A direct link was found between the subjects' honey consumption and the levels of protective polyphenolic antioxidants in their blood.
In another study, twenty-five healthy men drank plain water or water with buckwheat honey. Those consuming the honey enjoyed a 7 percent increase in their antioxidant capacity. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the average U.S. citizen consumes about 68 kilograms of sweetener annually. Substituting honey for at least part of this amount would make an impressive contribution to our overall antioxidant status and would no doubt be a significant health promoter.

An important note: Never give honey to children younger than a year old. About 10 percent of honey contains dormant Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause botulism in infants.

Honey, long recognized as a wound healer, has been used for centuries as a topical antiseptic for treating burns, ulcers, and wounds. A study in India compared the effectiveness of honey with a conventional wound-healing treatment, silver sulfadiazine, on patients suffering from first-degree burns. Amazingly, in the honey-dressed wounds, early subsidence of acute inflammatory changes, better control of infection, and quicker wound healing were observed. Some researchers attribute this effect to the nutrients in honey that promote skin growth and to the antibacterial substances present in honey. While I'm not recommending that you consider using honey topically, its power in this role is further evidence of its wide range of health benefits.

An additional benefit of honey is found in the oligosaccharides it contains. They increase the numbers of good bacteria in the colon, reduce levels of toxic metabolites in the intestine, help prevent constipation, and help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

To read about cook sweet potato and harvesting potatoes, visit the Fruits And Vegetables site.

Report this article Ask About This Article

More to Explore