Honey with delicious sweet taste is renowned for its amazing health benefits. It includes a variety of nutrients that make it a perfect food to include in daily diet. A number of research organizations are working to find more medicinal uses of honey. The medicinal value and other benefits of honey vary with each honey variety. Few honey varieties are preferred for their medicinal values while few for their excellent flavor. Here is description of honey nutrition and the benefits offered by those nutrients.
Honey nutrition – health benefits
Major nutrients present in honey include glucose, fructose and water. Other components include traces of enzymes, minerals, aminoacids and vitamins. Amounts of each of these nutrients vary with the floral source and the geographical location.
Sugars : Honey contains sugars namely fructose, maltose, glucose and sucrose in various proportions. It also contains very low proportion of higher sugars. High amount of fructose that accounts to about 38.2% not only gives sweet taste to the foods in which it is added but is also very good even for diabetics. The high glycemic index of honey allows gradual absorption of these sugars in to the blood.
Rich source of iron : Few honey varieties such as Buckwheat honey contains high amounts of iron. Hence, regular intake of iron rich honey varieties helps to improve hemoglobin levels.
Antioxidants : Honey is a rich source of antioxidants that help in elimination of free radicals. Elimination of free radicals enables you to enjoy a healthy body. This even reduces the risk of cancers. Compounds such as vitamin C, catalase and pinocembrin serve as good antioxidants.
Vitamins and minerals: Honey contains vitamins such as vitamin A, C, and B-complex. Of all the vitamins vitamin C, folate, Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid are present in high amounts. Honey also contains minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium and fluoride. These vitamins and minerals present in honey help in metabolism of cholesterol and unwanted fatty acids by either acting as catalyst or by converting inactive forms of enzymes in to active forms. As a result honey helps to prevent obesity and associated diseases such as atherosclerosis and stroke.
Hydrogen peroxide: Dilution of honey by body fluids results in liberation of hydrogen peroxide by the action of glucose oxidase present in honey. This hydrogen peroxide serves as an antiseptic and aids in faster healing of wounds when applied over wounds.
Proteins and fats: Even people with obesity can consume honey safely as it is free of fats, fatty acids and also cholesterol. Honey contains a very less amount of proteins. Of the total 60 calories offered by honey proteins contribute about 3.4% and the rest is provided by sugars.
Methyglyoxal: Apart from hydrogen peroxide presence of the compound methylglyoxal contributes to the antibacterial action of honey. All honey varieties contain very little amount of this compound but manuka honey contains very high amounts of methylglyoxal.
Amount of honey that can be consumed in a day
Few people doubt if they can eat honey daily especially diabetics. Honey can be consumed daily but in limited quantities. People with diabetics should restrict their daily honey consumption to one teaspoon. Limited consumption of honey definitely offers all the listed benefits without any risk of sudden surge in blood sugar levels. In fact honey is used as a home remedy in treatment of many ailments.
Honey nutrition – use in home remedies
Presence of phytochemcials and vitamins that serve as antioxidants and presence of compounds contributing to antibacterial properties of honey make it a best home remedy for various ailments. Some of the commonly used home remedies with honey include
- Honey and cinnamon: Use of cinnamon and honey helps in treatment of many dreadful diseases such as arthritis, bladder infections, ulcers and common colds. It even helps to improve the health of veins and arteries reducing the risk for heart attack. Honey and cinnamon duo also prevents hair loss and promotes skin health.
- Honey and lemon water : 1 teaspoon of honey mixed with 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice in hot water helps to reduce stomach pain. For best results this water has to be taken early in the morning. Honey and lemon juice also serves as a best remedy for sore throat.
- Use of honey in promoting skin health : Ability of honey to absorb water helps skin to retain moisture. Hence, it prevents drying of skin and makes it look glowing and healthy. Bee propolis extract serves as an effective remedy for acne.
- Honey and obesity : Regular intake of honey helps in weight loss as the vitamins and minerals present in honey promote cholesterol metabolism and unwanted fatty acids.
- Used in treatment of insomnia : Honey treats sleeplessness efficiently. Take a teaspoon honey mixed with milk before going to bed. The sudden surge in insulin levels due to the sugars contained in honey promotes release of tryptophan. Tryptophan gets converted to serotonin that acts on brain tissues and relaxes them helping you to fall asleep gradually.
Though use of these home remedies with honey gives effective results they should not be considered as a replacement to medical advice. Do not use these remedies for children below one year of age as they botulism spores present in honey cannot be handled by their digestive system and may result in infant botulism.
Honey varieties and benefits
Specific components present in few honey varieties offer specific benefits.
- Thymol present in thyme honey has strong antiseptic properties and serves as an effective remedy for food poisoning. Topical application of thyme honey mixed with olive oil and egg yolk helps to overcome the problem of dry skin.
- Hesperidin present in Orange blossom honey serves as a very strong antioxidant.
- High amount of polyphenols present in sunflower honey help in free radical elimination.
- Regular intake of clover honey helps to regulate blood pressure effectively. High sugar content of clover honey helps to prevent inflammation making it a best remedy for treatment of burns.
- Methylglyoxal present in Manuka honey shows strong antibacterial action making it effective remedy for wound healing.
Honey nutrition facts given above show that it is a best food to include in your diet. Sugars, vitamins and minerals present in honey make it a good energy booster. Take a tea spoon of honey to get recharged when you are fully tired. Absence of fat and cholesterol make it a best replacement to table sugar. To avail these benefits of honey consider taking raw honey. However, if you are allergic to bee pollen take honey that is purified and free of propolis.