Just about every song lyric that has ever been written about someone or something being incredibly sweet usually uses a reference to honey. Beyond being deliciously sweet – and sticky – honey is also one of the most widely eaten foods, having played a critical role in all cultures around the globe.
But honey is not just a food to most cultures, it is also a form of medicine. Even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, called honey the “Liquid gold” thanks to its medicinal effects. He said about it, “Honey causes heat, cleans sores and ulcers, softens hard ulcers of the lips and heals carbuncles and running sores.”
If you only think of honey as the “stuff” some people put in their tea, you’re thinking all wrong. Honey has got to be the KING of food because it offers so many health benefits:
Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Bees make honey by first visiting local flowers where they collect sugar from the nectar. They take this nectar back to the beehive where they repeatedly consume, digest and regurgitate the nectar.
The result is a liquid that the bees store to use as food for everyone in the hive. The exact smell, taste and color of the honey is dependent on the types of flowers the bees have visited.
Beyond its sugar content (which is a combination usually of fructose, glucose, maltose and sucrose) honey also contains several vitamins and minerals, though not a significant amount.
Honey’s real claim to fame is its bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants. The darker the honey, the higher the concentration of these powerful compounds.
Antioxidants are what keep your body from getting ill and can fight off many chronic illnesses including heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer. If you generally use sugar as your go-to sweetener (and we all know sugar is just empty calories with NO beneficial nutrients) then it may be time to make a switch to honey.
Honey May Help Improve Cholesterol Levels
There’s good cholesterol – HDL, and then there’s bad cholesterol – LDL. LDL plays a major role in atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries. The bottom line is, the higher your LDL levels, the more at risk you are of developing heart disease and stroke.
Several studies have shown that honey may be able to lower LDL levels while raising the good HDL levels. For instance, in one study, patients that consumed honey instead of table sugar saw a 5.8% reduction in LDL and a 3.3% increase in HDL. They also experienced a modest amount of weight loss.
Honey Helps to Heal Burns and Wounds
Since ancient Egyptian times, honey has been used to heal burns and wounds, and is still a common treatment today in alternative health circles. A review of 26 studies on honey and wound care found that honey was incredibly effective at healing partial-thickness burns and wounds that have become infected after surgery.
Honey has also been found to be an effective treatment for diabetic foot ulcers. That’s significant, because if not treated well, these can lead to serious complications including the need for amputation.
Honey has also been shown to effectively treat other skin issues like psoriasis and herpes lesions.
What is it about honey that makes it so effective at healing burns and wounds? Researchers believe it’s because honey is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and can also nourish surrounding tissue.
Honey is an Effective Cough Suppressant in Children
If you’re a parent, then you know having a sick child with an upper respiratory illness means nights of coughing. This means little sleep for your child and for you!
You also know getting your child to take a not-so-nice-tasting cough suppressant can be equally challenging. These mainstream medications can also come with unwanted side effects.
Honey has been shown to be an effective cough suppressant in children. In fact, one study actually found it was more effective than two common cough medications.
Having said this, honey should never be given to children less than one year of age due to risk of botulism.
Better Athletic Performance
If you work out regularly, you may have tried to get a bit more energy by taking an energy drink before your workout. Many of these drinks come with some potentially harmful side effects.
Honey can boost your athletic performance naturally, just by taking a teaspoon before you head to the gym. In fact, according to a study of competitive male cyclists performed at The University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory, honey led to better times and more cycling power among the athletes when compared with a placebo.
Not All Honey is Created Equally
Now that you know just some of the many health benefits honey offers, it’s important to mention that the typical honey (you know, sold in those little squeezable bear bottles) has been heated. Due to this pasteurization many, if not most, of the powerful nutrients that make honey so beneficial have been lost.
To really gain the health benefits I just mentioned, you should always opt for raw honey. Don’t be fooled by false advertising that claims honey to be raw – here’s how you can really tell:
Raw honey is solid and generally has a creamier color. It is also usually sold in jars, not squeeze bottles, because raw honey cannot be squeezed. Some supermarkets may actually carry raw honey, but generally not.
Your best bet is to go to your local farmer’s market and get local raw honey.
There is another honey that is not local but highly nutritious and that is Manuka honey made from bees that visit wild Manuka trees found in remote areas of New Zealand and Australia.
In the early 1930s, the health benefits of this particular honey were first discovered by dairy farmers who fed the local Manuka honey to their cows. Amazingly, their cows had super active immune systems and never became ill.
You could definitely consider raw honey, and in particular Manuka honey, a superfood. Again, protect yourself from honey imposters. If you want to buy Manuka honey, always look for the UMF mark somewhere on the jar to know it’s the real deal.
Nature Always Knows Best
To think that something as pure and natural as honey can actually help people be well is wonderful. In Western society, we have all become so programmed to use prescription drugs and surgery to treat be well and stay well. But many of these medications and surgeries do more harm than good.
Remember I mentioned that the antioxidants in honey may help people lower their blood pressure? Well, if you are looking for some other natural and powerful ways to lower your blood pressure and throw out your prescription medications for good, then pick up a copy of the book The Blood Pressure Solution to see how people are getting their numbers down in as little as 48 hours.