Honey: A Superfood with Super Benefits
Honey isn’t just good in a hot cup of tea when you have a sore throat. While the iconic honey bottles of golden liquid may be most recognizable on the store shelves, there are actually many different variations of honey available. Flavors and colors are typically based on the flowers and plants from which the bees are collecting pollen. Honey colors can range from a near-translucent liquid to a dark-as-molasses syrup. Regardless of the honey variety, the bee-produced nectar is listed as one of the many natural superfoods, used to boost health and vitality.
Raw honey comes straight from the honeycomb, while pasteurized honey is heated and strained to remove potential bacteria. Most honey products found in the grocery store are commercially produced. They are pasteurized at high temperatures, which can kill off the majority of the helpful anti-oxidants, nutrients, and enzymes.
Honey producers are quite successful selling honey locally. Farmer’s markets, health food stores, and other small business are likely to carry local, raw honey, which contain the most nutrients beneficial to good health.
Experimenting with different types of honey can expand your palate and help you to become a honey connoisseur. There are over 300 known types of honey. Popular varieties include:
- Clover Honey – clover honey is the most common variety of honey. It is usually light in color, with a light, sweet flavor. Clover is often referred to as ‘table honey’ and can be divided further into categories, based on the type of clover it originates from, including white Dutch, red, and other types of clover.
- Buckwheat Honey – buckwheat honey offers a distinctive, strong flavor. It is dark brown in color and most commonly used in baking recipes. Buckwheat honey is also a popular choice for use in barbeque sauces.
- Orange Blossom Honey – this type of honey originates from the nectar of orange, lemon, lime, and other citrus flowers. It is used as a table honey but also popular for baking cookies and cakes.
- Alfalfa Honey – alfalfa honey originates from the alfalfa flower and is usually white in color or a light amber. This honey is versatile, used as a table honey and for baking.
- Avocado Honey – avocado flowers produce a dark-colored honey, which offers a buttery taste. This rich honey is often used in sauces, marinades, and salad dressings.
- Sage Honey – this honey originates from the sage flower, is white in color and offers a sweet taste. Sage honey is a popular compliment to a number of cheeses.
- Eucalyptus Honey – this flavor of honey offers a slight mint taste and is most often used in baking. Its color and flavor depends on the type of eucalyptus plant the bees visit.
- Sourwood Honey – the sourwood tree is the source for sourwood honey. The honey offers a spicy-yet-sweet flavor and is used in glazes or as a table honey.
Honey is a natural sweetener for drinks and foods and can be enjoyed in a number of ways. Honey is a frequent ingredient in home remedies for treating a variety of health issues and supporting the body’s immune system. Different honey varieties offer different levels of immune support and overall health benefits.
Clover honey is the most popular variety of honey in the US. It is most commonly used for treating issues affecting the liver, regulating blood pressure, treating minor cuts and burns, regulating levels of cholesterol, providing the body with anti-oxidants, to coat sore throats, and eliminate coughs.
Buckwheat honey is a popular commodity in New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and some parts of eastern Canada. Buckwheat honey offers more anti-oxidant properties than other types of honey. It also has been found to offer more vitamins, enzymes, and minerals than its light-colored counterparts. Due to its high anti-biotic properties, buckwheat honey has been shown beneficial in treating diabetes, detoxifying the liver, treating bacterial infections, and correcting iron deficiencies.
This type of honey is most commonly found in Southern California, Texas, and Florida. It has been shown to contain high levels of anti-oxidants, which provides the immune system with support against allergies, and even some cancers.
Alfalfa honey is found predominately in the United States and Canada. It is most often used for a healthy heart and treating cardio-related issues due to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Found primarily in California, avocado honey is filled with anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It also has been shown to offer medicinal benefits similar to that of the Aloe Vera plant.
This type of honey is found in California. It is known for its very slow granulation and often is mixed with other honeys to slow down the overall granulation process. Sage honey is very light in color and contains less anti-oxidants than a darker-colored honey. It does, however, offer other benefits for good health, including providing necessary enzymes, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.
There are 500 species and hybrids of the genera plant, from which eucalyptus honey originates. Most eucalyptus honey is produced in California. Due to its minty characteristics, the honey is used most often as a decongestant and for treating other respiratory issues. Eucalyptus honey is also beneficial as an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and an anti-spasmodic.
A honey produced typically in New Zealand, Manuka honey is best known for treating Helicobacter pylori, a principle element in gastric ulcers and stomach cancers. Manuka honey has been show to prevent the growth of this bacteria and helping to heal stomach issues.
Neem honey has been used in Ayrvedic treatments for diabetes, dental infections, throat infections, skin conditions, allergies, and high blood pressure.
In addition to the already noted health benefits, honey is often used in home remedy recipes to treat every day ailments and help control chronic illnesses. Honey has been used for centuries due to its long shelf life and notable health benefits. Eating honey straight from the jar can help improve digestive issues, lower your cholesterol, and improve the circulation of blood in the body.
Other honey-based home remedies are used for:
Better sleep – add a tablespoon of honey to a glass of warm milk to promote sleepiness. The honey in the milk helps to increase levels of melatonin, promoting a better night’s rest.
Weight loss – raw honey can replace sugar in your diet to help reach weight loss goals.
Nausea relief – a mixture of honey, ginger, and lemon juice can be ingested to provide quick relief from nausea.
Skin issues – honey is often used in topical treatments for a number of skin conditions. It can be rubbed over the face to treat acne problems and restore hydration to the skin. Use two cups of honey in a hot bath for a hydrating, soothing soak. A mix of equal parts honey and cinnamon is known to effectively treat eczema. Honey combined with olive oil can be used as a lotion to battle dry skin.
Asthma – as honey is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, it is used to provide relief for respiratory conditions, including asthma.
Dry hair – raw honey is used as a hair mask to revive dry hair and boost natural shine. It takes just 1 teaspoon of raw honey mixed with 5 cups of water and poured over dry hair to restore hair’s condition. Honey is also used in shampoos to cleanse hair.
Urinary tract infections – honey can be used to treat urinary tract infections thanks to its natural anti-bacterial properties.
As most commercial honey is lacking the vitamins and nutrients found in raw honey, it is best to purchase locally-produced, raw honey to obtain the most health benefits. Commercial honey is also missing one of the most nutritional ingredients. Bee pollen contains a high amino acid content, as well as anti-oxidants.
Honey can be used to treat so many health conditions, it should be a staple in your cupboard. When you buy honey for home remedies and better health, be sure to buy it from local farmers and in raw form. Be sure to inquire as to where the honey was produced, especially if you plan to treat allergies. Only honey produced near where you live will be effective in treating allergy symptoms.
Honey is also a great survival tool to have in your emergency supply. Provided the honey jar is seal properly, the product will never spoil. It offers a very long shelf life and is useful in many recipes or can be enjoyed by itself. Honey can crystalize over time but it won’t affect the quality of the honey. Bathe a jar of granulated honey in warm water to turn the honey back into a liquid form.
If you can’t live without honey, consider starting your own bee colony to produce your own honey products. Not only can you supply your own pantry with honey bottles each season, you can also start a side business selling your own unique jars of honey in your area. Honey is a popular product in local farmer’s markets and can turn a tidy profit.