Honey is the preferred natural sweetener across the world. The high sugar content, antioxidant and antibacterial properties and presence of nutrients make it a valuable diet. It is available in different varieties and each variety has a unique property such as a taste, presence of useful components etc. For example, the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) present in manuka honey is resistant to heat processing making it the best honey among other varieties available in New Zealand and Australia. Here is an overview of what is clover honey and its benefits.
What is clover honey?
Honey that is derived from the nectar of clover plants that grow widely in all parts of the world with temperate climate is termed as clover honey. Clover tree which is a creeper belongs to the pea family and produces copious amounts of nectar. America, New Zealand and Canada are credited to be the largest producers of this honey variety. Clover varieties that are of importance in honey production include the Red clover, White or Dutch clover, Crimson clover and the Alsike Clover. The long corolla of red clover makes it hard for the honey bees to gather the honey. Hence, this variety of honey is produced in very less amounts. The white or Dutch clover honey is produced in high amounts in various parts of the world.
Factors determining the quality of clover honey
Various factors are considered to decide the purity of clover honey. They are:
- Season of the year : Nectar derived from clover plants during late spring and summer season contains rich, strong flavor. This period lasts for only few days. However, heavy rainfall may yield high quality honey for few weeks.
- Honey bees : If these little workers gather the nectar solely from clover plants then the honey will be highly pure without other flavors. However, it is impossible to control the bees. Hence, there will be very little amount of nectar derived from other flowers too. The flavor of the clover honey will change greatly if it gets mixed with strong flavored nectar such as the one derived from eucalyptus or orange blossoms. It may even change the color of the honey.
- Processing of the honey : Raw honey contains the delicate clover flavor. But majority of the companies subject it to processing techniques such as purification and pasteurization to get rid of impurities and harmful bacteria. Pasteurization at high temperature for prolonged periods can result in the loss of mild flavor. Few companies mix various varieties of mild flavored honey varieties to make clover honey. Hence, beware of such suppliers. Consider tasting raw clover honey so as to easily identify impure forms of clover honey.
Properties of clover honey
- Mild floral flavor and leaves sweet after taste.
- White or pale amber in color.
- Possess grassy floral smell.
- Crystallizes easily in to solid white mass of fine grains. Hence, it is mostly available in creamy form rather than as syrup .
Varieties of clover honey graded based on color
Generally, the soil and the floral source determine the color of the honey. The color of clover honey ranges from 10-35mm on a pfund scale (pfund scale is generally used to describe color of honey). Depending on the color clover honey is graded in to four different varieties namely 0-9mm, 10-19mm, 20-35mm and over 35mm.
Health Benefits of Clover honey
The raw and pure form of clover honey promotes health in various ways. It is well known across the world for its amazing health promoting properties. Some of the most important and popular health benefits of clover honey are provided below:
Promotes wound healing : Like manuka honey clover honey is also best for wound healing. Its anti-inflammatory affect make it a best remedy for slow healing injuries. High amounts of minerals such as iron, potassium and copper and vitamins such as vitamin C help in faster wound healing. It works effectively even against antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Regulates blood pressure : The unique property of clover honey is its ability to reduce blood pressure. Regular intake of at least 1-2 teaspoons of this honey early in the morning helps to keep high blood pressure under control. However, it should not be considered as an alternative to blood pressure medication and doctor’s advice. Good diet and exercises add to the benefits of clover honey.
Controls liver problems : Daily intake of 1-2 tsp of clover honey makes it easy to deal with liver problems. It even arrests the growth of deadly tumors in liver and also stimulates the bowel activities.
Benefits when included in cooking : The mild flavor of clover honey makes it a delicious spread on bagel or toast. You can even add it to tea or use it in cooking. People who are recovering from illness or those who are on strict diet should consume clover honey daily to prevent bacterial attack.
Removes bad cholesterol : Raw clover honey that is not subject to heat helps to remove bad cholesterol efficiently. As a result it prevents diseases such atherosclerosis that is characterized by abnormal cholesterol accumulation in blood vessels. It even prevents stroke and heart diseases.
Helps in treating burns : Burnt skin is at high risk of infection. Regular application of clover honey that has strong anti-bacterial action not only prevents infections but also helps in healing. It even protects the new delicate skin. Clover honey is considered better than medications such as silver sulfadiazine that is commonly used to treat burns. The high sugar content and the thickness of the honey prevent accumulation of lymph at the site of burning and prevent inflammation. It even promotes the growth of connective tissue and blood capillaries in to the affected area.
Best natural sweetener for children: Honey contains simple sugars such as dextrose and levulose rather than complex sugars such as sucrose that exert load on the digestive system. These simple and easy to digest sugars of honey also serve as source of instant energy. Hence, honey is a best natural sweetener for children. It gets digested easily even if the child is sick.
Effective remedy against cough : In addition to the antibacterial and antioxidant properties, clover honey also serves as mucus thinner. This combined action makes it a perfect remedy for cough especially for children in the age group of 2-4 who are sensitive to over the counter cough remedies.
Prevents aging : Few people wonder what is clover honey property that is making it a best anti-aging remedy? Well it is the antioxidant property of honey that protects skin cells and also helps to keep them healthy. It is because of this property clover honey is used in many of the skin moisturizers. In fact, the components of clover honey are very close to the moisturizing components found in skin.
Most of the clover honey available commercially is pasteurized to extend its shelf life. As far as possible go for pure and raw clover honey and processing steps such as heating and filtration will destroy its health benefits.
Precaution while using Clover honey
Freshly extracted clover honey crystallizes very fast and thus making it difficult to use. Thus make sure when you are warming it to use it (for cooking, applying on skin or eating raw) do not heat excessively as it may lose its amazing health properties.
Clover honey with multiple properties such as anti aging, anti inflammatory, anti bacterial and anti oxidant properties is more than a simple natural sweetener. It can be said as a best food to start a day. Easy to digest nature of clover honey make it a best sweetener for children. Regular consumption of clover honey avoids the risk of hazardous diseases such as stroke and atherosclerosis.