When you think of honey, do you instantly think of that little squeeze bottle shaped like a bear sitting in your kitchen cabinet? While most of us grew up thinking that’s what honey is, the truth is, that dark amber-colored sticky stuff is honey that has been heavily refined.
If you’ve ever eaten raw honey, you know that the taste and texture are vastly different from what comes out of that squeeze bear. Raw honey is solid at room temperature and generally a cream color. But the most important difference between raw honey and processed honey lies in its nutritional value.
You see, when regular honey is pasteurized, it is heated, and this high heat robs the honey of the valuable nutrients such as pollen and the enzyme-rich propolis that have been shown to benefits health. But beyond stripping valuable nutrients, commercially made honeys are often sourced from bees that are treated with antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin used in China’s honey industry.
Commercial bees are also often given winter nourishment in the form of sugar and cheap syrup. Hives are typically made of non-organic materials, which allow pests to infiltrate the hive, causing the need to use non-organic cleaning substances.
So basically not only has commercial honey been stripped of all its beneficial nutrients, it is also often tainted with other unhealthy substances.
If you use honey in your home, it’s best to use raw honey. And if you DON’T use honey in your home, here are X reasons why you should start eating more RAW honey:
It Can Help You Lose Weight
Studies have linked honey consumption with weight loss. Researchers have concluded that when you replace sugar with honey, it can prevent you from packing on added pounds.
Another study from the University of Wyoming found that raw honey has the ability to activate hormones that suppress the appetite. So by eating a spoon of raw honey before a meal, you may be able to eat less.
Helps Fight Allergies
You may know people who have eaten local raw honey to treat their seasonal allergies. This is a natural protocol that can thanks to a concept called immunotherapy.
Raw honey contains bee pollen, which has been shown to help ward off infections, provide allergy relief and boost your immune system. Now the bees in your local area collect this pollen by going from flower to flower. This is the same pollen that causes many people to suffer come spring.
Immunotherapy works because when you eat this offending pollen little by little, over time, you may become less sensitive to it. In fact, a 2013 study found that eating raw, local honey at high doses (one gram per kilogram of body weight of honey every day) improved allergy symptoms over a period of eight weeks. So it seems that a table spoon or more a day of raw, local honey can act very similar to an allergy shot – but without the pain.
Gives an Energy Boost
Raw honey is made up of 80% natural sugars, so it’s no wonder it is often referred to as “the perfect running fuel.” These natural sugars are easily absorbed by the body in the form of liver glycogen, which makes it an idea fuel source before a workout.
It’s Loaded with Antioxidants
Studies have shown eating raw honey daily raises levels of health-promoting antioxidants in the body. And if you’ve read our blog for any time, you know that we want to eradicate these free radicals because they cause aging and disease.
But not all antioxidants are created equal. Raw honey contains polyphenols, which are incredibly powerful antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
But that’s not all. Studies have also concluded that raw honey contains the disease-fighting antioxidant flavonoid pinocembrin, which has been found to induce cell death of many cancer cells.
Helps You Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Raw honey helps you get a better night’s sleep in a couple of different ways:
1) By eating raw honey right before bed, you restore your liver’s glycogen supply, which prevents your brain from triggering a crisis during the night searching for fuel. This event often causes people to suddenly awaken.
2) Eating raw honey also helps release melatonin in the brain by creating a small spike in insulin levels. This in turn stimulates the release of tryptophan, which is then converted to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin, the chemical that manages your sleep/wake cycle.
Helps Manage Diabetes
While honey is sweet, it does not affect the body the same way as processed sugars. Consuming raw honey can help you manage your blood sugar levels. A study out of Dubai found that raw honey causes a lower elevation of plasma glucose levels in diabetics compared to dextrose and sucrose.
Even more exciting is that when combined with cinnamon, which has insulin-boosting properties and counteracts the glucose elevation in honey, the mixture can be considered a low glycemic index food.
Where Can You Find Raw Honey
Some grocery stores sell honey that is called raw, but beware: most are not. Remember, raw honey is opaque and creamy in color. It will not be a clear amber liquid that comes in a squeeze bottle.
Your best bet for finding raw honey that was made locally, and so can help with allergies if that’s what you are after, is to go to local farmer’s markets. Not only will you get the absolute healthiest honey possible, you’ll also be supporting local bee farmers. A win/win!
Because heat can strip honey of the very beneficial nutrients we just discussed, you should never cook with raw honey. If you want to drizzle it into coffee or tea, allow the beverage to cool a bit before adding.
Other than that, add it to smoothies, yogurt, smear on toast or use in marinades. The sky is the limit when it comes to how you can use raw honey in your daily meal plans!
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