Growing up in Oregon, I remember going to my best friend’s house down the street from me. We used to go back forth through our neighbors’ backyards to visit each other. One neighbor was a beekeeper with 12 beehives. We were always careful going by the hives so as to not disturb the bees.
My parents had fruit trees in our yard. I remember the bees loving the apples and pears that used to fall from the trees. I also remember running barefoot through the yard and occasionally stepping on a bee with painful results.
These days, my wife and I have several different kinds of honey. Our honey stash includes raw honey from local farmers’ markets. So we have learned of the wonderful benefits of eating honey. One of the benefits is drinking honey and lemon juice as a morning tonic.
You probably know that bees make honey. It’s also likely that you’ve tasted honey and found it to be delicious. But do you know what it really is?
Bees make honey by gathering nectar from plants. Nectar is a sweet liquid that is produced by flowering plants. They produce it in the hope that bees, wasps, and other insects will land on the flower, gather nectar, and inadvertently brush up against the pollen. As they fly from plant to plant the pollen that’s already collected on their body will rub off on other plants. The pollen initiates a fertilization process.
Honey bees actually have a little structure on their back legs called a Pollen Basket. This is where the pollen collects and how it is transferred to the stigma of other flowers. Bees use the nectar they gather for nutrition. They also use it to make honey.
What is Honey, Really?
Honey is made when the nectar combines with enzymes in the bee’s saliva. They deposit the material into the cells of the hive where they store it for later. Interestingly, the buzzing of their little wings is what dries the honey out enough that it is ready to eat.
So honey is nothing more than enzymes from a bee’s mouth mixed with nectar which is then reduced to the pleasant sticky substance we know and love by using their wings to evaporate some of the water.
Bee keepers, then collect the honeycombs, scrape off the wax caps the bees place on top of each cell, and extract the honey. The flavor of the honey is determined by the flowers that the bee gathers the nectar from. For example, if a bee gathers nectar from an orange blossom then the nectar will taste a bit like oranges. If it gathers nectar from a clover field then you’ll taste clover in your honey.
There are many fun and different varieties of honey including:
- Tulip Poplar
- And of course there are honey blends
Honey also differs in both color and texture as well. The darker the color, the more flavorful. Textures are often described as:
- Liquid Honey – This is created by placing the honey comb in an extractor which then spins the honey out of the cells.
- Creamed Honey– Is made by blending granulated honey with liquid honey. It’s stored at a cool temp to allow it to harden.
- Chunk Honey – Is a honey comb in a jar with honey poured around it.
You can find all three types of honey in your local supermarket, however the most abundant and easy to use is generally the liquid honey. Now that you know everything there is to know about what honey is and where it comes from, let’s take a look at the numerous benefits honey provides.
Health Benefits of Eating Honey
You know that there are many forms of sugar. You can get sugar from sugar beets, sugar cane, and from corn in the form of corn syrup. We also use maple syrup, molasses, and manufactured sweeteners to flavor our foods. And new sugars have shown up on marketplace shelves. There’s Stevia and Agave made from plants as well as coconut sugar which is a sugar produced from the sap of flower buds of the coconut palm.
None of these sugars has the same health and nutrition properties that honey has. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, honey has the following nutritional values:
Honey does not have any fat or cholesterol. In addition to having a significant number of nutrients and minerals, honey has other health and healing properties.
A Natural Source of Fast Energy
Your body turns food into glucose which it then uses to create ATP for energy. Honey is already broken down to a very basic level which means that your body can use it almost at once. It doesn’t have to go through a lengthy digestion process, like a sandwich might, to become energy for your body. In fact, your body can begin converting honey immediately. This means it’s a fast source of fuel, which can be particularly important if you exercise.
Honey is a fantastic pre or post workout snack and many endurance athletes consume honey during their workout to provided sustained energy. There are now many sports nutrition products made from honey because it is so easy for your body to manage and healthy too.
Honey has a low glycemic index, which means it doesn’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. This helps manage your insulin response and give you energy without the sugar rush associated with most sweeteners. Additionally, honey has been shown to possess some healing properties.
Hospitals in Israel studied the effects of honey on the immune system. They found that it was effective in decreasing the occurrence of acute febrile neutropenia in 64% of their patients. Acute Febrile Neutropenia is when a high fever reduces a person’s white blood cell count.
In the same study honey also stabilized hemoglobin levels and improved the quality of life in 32% of the cancer patients involved in the study.
Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Bacterial
Honey also has many healing properties. It is both an anti-inflammatory and an anti-bacterial. It’s commonly used to alleviate sore throats. As well, you can use it as a cough suppressant instead of cough medicine. A spoonful of honey will coat the throat and reduce pain and soreness.
As well, a 2007 study by the Penn State College of Medicine, found that honey offers a safe and effective alternative to children’s cough medicine. They studied the effects of buckwheat honey given before bedtime and found that it provided better relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children than no treatment or dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications. And honey, when given to children over the age of one, has no harmful side effects unlike Dextromethorphan.
“Honey did a better job reducing the severity, frequency and bothersome nature of nighttime cough from upper respiratory infection than DM or no treatment. Honey also showed a positive effect on the sleep quality of both the coughing child and the child’s parents. DM was not significantly better at alleviating symptoms than no treatment.”
Honey is a powerful and soothing antioxidant and antimicrobial. It is often used to treat cold symptoms and as a source of fast energy. While honey is exceptional for your nutritional wellness, it can also be used in a number of beauty and first aid treatments including weight loss.
Honey with Lemon for Weight Loss
Lemon juice is known for stimulating body detoxification and has a number of benefits. Benefits include lowering blood pressure, aiding in digestion and preventing constipation, as well as weight loss.
Combining honey with lemon provides an extra measure of vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants. These provide your body with electrolytes, which keep your body hydrated in the morning. Raw honey and lemons contain plenty of electrolytes like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Benefits of drinking honey with lemon juice include:
- increasing energy levels
- fighting infections
- aiding digestion
- works as a natural diuretic
- maintaining healthy weight
The honey with lemon tonic recipe is easy!
Mix one teaspoon of raw, unheated honey with two teaspoons of lime or lemon juice in a glass of warm water. Drink after waking up and before breakfast. The warm drink fires up your metabolism for efficient fat burning.
Honey with Lemon Summary
It seems honey has been around since the beginning of recorded time. Ancient civilizations touted the sweet substance for its healing powers. Just about every culture on our planet uses honey in a variety of recipes. You can use honey to soothe a sore throat, prevent a burn from getting infected, and for treating an upset stomach as well as weight management.
Honey can be part of your cocktail hour or your dessert. It can be served with sweet dishes or savory delights.
Local honey is great for the environment and for your local economy. The less honey has to travel the fewer carbon emissions. Additionally, local honey means local bees and as previously discussed local bee’s impact crops and the food that you enjoy every day.
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