Honey – Tasty and Healthy
Honey on toast, tea and honey, PP&J with honey, honey glazed ham and honey on oatmeal are just a few of the many ways to serve honey. Who knew that honey has a lower glycemic index (GI) than sugar? There are studies on the health benefits of honey that encompass wound care, allergies, coughs and as a sweet alternative to sugar. One favorite among many families is a hot “health” drink with honey, bourbon or whiskey and lemon offering warm relaxation for medicinal purposes only.
The Seven Wonders of Honey
This pantry staple is much more than a simple sweetener. A flavor for every palate. With more than 300 varietals in the United States, honey adds its own unique profile to every recipe. Using different varietals usually more robust in flavor. The National Honey Board makes it easy to find varietals in your area with honeylocator.com.
It’s a category unto itself. Honey provides balance to any dish, complementing and enhancing a variety of foods and flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory. Honey also masks bitter flavors often found in gluten-free flours.
Locks in moisture. Honey attracts and holds moisture, enhancing freshness and shelf life. Honey’s humectant properties expand from brining on meats to the freshness of cookies. Honey is also the perfect ingredient for gluten-free recipes, giving baked goods added moisture.
Emulsifier. Honey acts as a binder and thickener for sauces, dressings, marinades and dips. Honey also helps better blend ingredients like oils and vinegars.
Eye-catching colors. Honey adds a rich golden or amber color to finished foods, making it ideal for browning and glazing. As a result of the natural color and browning to the finished product, when baking, reduce the oven temperature by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent over-browning.
Sweet substitutions. Honey can easily be substituted for a granulated sweetener. For sauces, marinades and salad dressings, substitute honey for up to half the granulated sweetener required. In baking, for each cup of honey used, reduce any added liquid by 1/4 cup, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Extended shelf life and storage. Honey is naturally anti-microbial to resist spoilage, which extends shelf life in baked goods and other items. Not only does honey extend shelf life in recipes, honey also has its own extended shelf life. Honey is best stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If your honey begins to crystallize, don’t throw it out. Just gently heat it and stir periodically until crystals dissolve.
Health Benefits – Glycemic Index of Sugar and Honey
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how carbohydrates deal with glucose in the blood. A carbohydrate with a low GI allows for only a small increase in blood glucose, while a carbohydrate with a high GI leads to a high blood glucose level. The average glycemic index for honey is 55±5 and this can be compared to the glycemic index of sugar, which is 68±5. Honey is a lower GI than sugar. Research has shown that foods with a low GI, a small increase in blood glucose, may provide reduced risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Source: University of Arizona
Uses of Honey for Health
In addition to being a great natural sweetener, honey has a multitude of benefits that many people don’t know about. Have you ever had an unrelenting sore throat? Honey has been proven to be a natural throat soother! Are you an athlete looking for a natural energy boost before the big game? Honey’s unique blend of natural sweeteners gives it the ability to provide quick energy in any circumstance.
Honey is a rich source of carbohydrates, providing 17 grams per tablespoon, which makes it ideal for your working muscles since carbohydrates are the primary fuel the body uses for energy. Carbohydrates are necessary in the diet to help maintain muscle glycogen, also known as stored carbohydrates, which are the most important fuel source for athletes to help them keep going.
Honey for Wound Healing
Honey has been used to treat infections in a wide range of wound types. These include burns, venous leg ulcers, leg ulcers of mixed aetiology, diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, unhealed graft donor sites, abscesses, boils, pilonidal sinuses, infected wounds from lower limb surgery, necrotising faciitis and neonatal postoperative wound infection. In many of these and other cases, honey has been used to heal wounds not responding to treatment with conventional antibiotics and antiseptics. -Read more
Honey has been used for centuries to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with a common cold. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, many things can cause a sore throat. These include infections with viruses, such as colds and flu; sinus drainage; allergies; or cigarette smoking, among others. Sore throats caused by bacteria such as streptococci, are usually treated with antibiotics. Always check with your doctor if you have a fever, or if symptoms continue for more than a few days.
Is Honey Better to Use for Diabetic Health?
Both honey and sugar will affect your blood sugar level. Honey is sweeter than granulated sugar, so you might use a smaller amount of honey for sugar in some recipes. But honey actually has slightly more carbohydrates and more calories per teaspoon than does granulated sugar â€” so any calories and carbohydrates you save will be minimal.
How Honey Gets from Hive to Bottle
Honey gets its start as flower nectar, which is collected by bees, naturally broken down into simple sugars and stored in honeycombs. The unique design of the honeycomb, coupled with constant fanning by the bees’ wings, causes evaporation to take place, creating the thick, sweet liquid we know as honey. The color and flavor of honey varies from hive to hive based on the type of flower nectar collected by the bees. For example, honey made from Orange Blossom nectar might be light in color, whereas honey from Avocado or Wildflowers might have a dark amber color.
Harvesting and extracting
Beekeepers – large and small – harvest honey by collecting the honeycomb frames and scraping off the wax cap that bees make to seal off honey in each cell. Once the caps are removed, the frames are placed in an extractor – a centrifuge that spins the frames, forcing honey out of the comb. The honey is spun to the sides of the extractor, where gravity pulls it to the bottom and it can be collected.
Straining and bottling
After the honey is extracted, it is strained to remove any remaining pieces of wax or other particles. Some beekeepers and bottlers might heat the honey to make it easier to strain, but this does nothing to alter the liquid’s natural composition. It only makes the straining process easier and more effective. After straining, it’s time to bottle, label and distribute the honey to retail outlets. Whether the container is glass or plastic, or purchased at the grocery store or farmers market, if the ingredient label says pure honey, you can rest assured that nothing was added, from bee to hive to bottle.
Comparison of Vitamin, Mineral and Antioxidant Levels in Raw and Processed Honey
This study examined the effects of commercial processing on the pollen and nutrient content of honey. Processing reduced the pollen content of the honey, but did not affect the nutrient content. The micro-nutrient profile of honey is not associated with its pollen content and is not affected by commercial processing.
-Ropa Science Research – Research Project Funded by the National Honey Board – D. Ropa, 2012
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Storage and Usage Tips for Honey – Nature’s Simple Sweetener
Once you bring honey home from the store or farmers market, it can be used for several years. To keep it tasting its best, store it at room temperature. Over time, a natural crystallization process will take place.
Once honey becomes crystallized, it is still good to use – in fact, some prefer it this way. If you want to return it to its original state, simply place the honey jar in warm water and stir until the crystals dissolve. Be careful not to boil or scorch the honey.
Try honey any time you want to make something a little sweeter. While tea and toast are traditional, try using it in place of other sweeteners when baking and cooking.Note: Honey is a wholesome and natural product for adults and children, but is not recommended for infants under one year of age.