14 Jul What’s So Much Sweeter About Raw Honey?
Honey is nature’s liquid gold, but is all that glitters really gold? This luscious nectar has always had a reputation as one of nature’s healers, a traditional remedy we grew up with. Who hasn’t been told to have a cup of lemon and honey when they have a touch of flu? It’s been honoured for thousands of years in many traditions not only for it tasty sweetness, but for something more that it represents. Nature’s golden bounty. With this wholesome mystical reputation, the name alone adds a veneer of comforting natural goodness to anything it graces – from throat lozenges to cereal. So if something says, with real honey, what does that mean? It may be honey, but does it still hold the same qualities we have come to trust in because our Gran said so?
Perhaps you have seen honey marked Raw on the shelf and gasped indignantly at the higher price. Well, the truth is that if you want real gold, that’s what you pay for. Not all honey is the same.
Raw means uncooked right? So if it isn’t raw, it’s cooked. And we all know that when you cook something it changes quite dramatically. That most commercial honeys have been processed comes as no surprise, but the processing involves pasteurising it at a heat of 70° Celsius plus to make it easier to filter and package, and delay the crystallisation process. This literally changes the sugar structure and damages a lot of its delicate and potent living enzymes, vitamins and nutrition. Simply put, it’s cooked to death.
This isn’t really news, natural medicine traditions around the world hold that heated honey has a negative effect on our bodies. In Ayurvedic tradition it is believed that honey heated over 60° Celsius creates a condition of mucus that is brought on by inflammation and toxicity. There is also evidence to suggest that heating honey raises it glycemic index, having a destabilizing effect on blood sugar, not so desirable for those of us with those sensitive imbalances. Processed honey becomes acid-forming in the body too, and an overly acidic body leads to all sorts of health bugbears.
Not only does heating honey damage its magical complex structure, it boils off some of the volatile compounds that create the subtle delicate aromas that make honey such a refined pleasure for the senses.
Once the honey is liquefied by boiling, it is forced through micro-filters to remove all the healthsome pollen and other micro-particles that may cause honey to crystallise. You see, tiny particles act as seeds that begin crystallisation and removing them helps delay this. But really, this is a simple thing you can remedy at home by simply placing your honey jar in some hot water. If you have honey that never crystallises, chances are it’s been heat-treated.
Then you get the unscrupulous bunch who will even go so far as to make fake honey with invert sugars, or mix sugar or water in with their honey. Sometimes beekeepers will even feed their bees with sugar products, meaning their honey won’t be created purely from the irreplaceable nourishment of real pollen. Kind of like fast food for bees.
Would something that’s been boiled to death, stripped of its goodness and left simply as a sugary condiment really be something nourishing to eat, or use as a healing medicine?
The Sweet Truth
Raw honey on the other hand, is unheated, unpasteurised and unprocessed. Now we’re talking. Honey in its original state is quite a miraculous substance, imagine all those bees gathering golden pollen from flowers and transforming it into this delicious sticky raw nectar by digesting it in their own bodies. Let’s take a look at all the wonderful phytonutrients left behind when honey is not heated and filtered.
Chinese medicine sees bee pollen as a rejuvenating tonic for longevity. It is a concentrated superfood that contains everything our bodies need – vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants and protein for a start. As a matter of fact it is richer in protein than any animal source, contains more amino acids than beef, eggs, or cheese and is a source for B-complex vitamins and folic acid too.
Propolis is a sticky resin bees make by mixing their own secretions with plant resins. They use it to seal and protect their hives from bacteria and other micro-organisms. This is the bees personal antibiotic we have here, and we can definitely benefit from its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Eating honey regularly also raises the levels of antioxidants in your blood, and you can never have too many of those! Sounds like a good plan for flu season and beyond!
Royal jelly is a special super-nutritious bee baby food, secreted by worker bees to feed the young larvae so they’ll grow healthily. When a queen bee is chosen she gets fed this wonder food for a longer period than her underlings. It’s full of amino acids, lipids, sugars, vitamins, and most importantly, proteins. It also contains high levels of vitamins D and E. It is said to support healthy fertility.
As an old favourite for sweetening up our day, let’s look at honey and its effect on our blood sugar. It seems that according to some studies, our bodies tolerate raw honey much better than sucrose or glucose, probably due to its nutrient content and it can even lead to improved blood sugar control and weight-loss over time.
Raw honey is an excellent wound healer. It’s also a golden beauty secret that can brighten and even out your skin tone and even help fade scars and age spots as it contains a mild alpha hydroxy acid called Gluconic Acid. It’s as simple as giving yourself a honey face mask.
Tummy Friendly and Alkaline
Honey has lots of friendly bacteria, perhaps a surprising fact that explains why it can be so good for tummy upsets and nausea if you take it with honey or ginger. In its raw state, honey has even been found to help with nasties like Candida. It’s also good for balancing out acidity in your body because raw honey is an alkaline-forming food. Use it to counteract things like acid indigestion. And for those starchy meals? It may not be a bad idea to have a dollop of raw honey on your toast or in your cereal as it contains Amylase, an enzyme that helps predigest starchy foods.
Healing sweetness from the sun, brought to you compliments of our six-legged friends, raw honey really is Nature’s Cure the way it was intended and is one of the most convenient foods to stock up on as it has such an indefinite shelf life. Don’t be caught without this golden miracle remedy handy, because you can eat it for simple delicious fun and enjoyment too!
Some Great Ways to Enjoy Honey
- Help yourself to a delicious spoonful just like that!
- Add to smoothies and salad dressings
- Dollop over buttered toast
- Honey, cinnamon, lemon and hot water make an excellent flu tonic, just make sure the water isn’t too hot when you add the honey, to minimise heat damage
- Drizzle over poached or raw fruits such as peaches or apples
- Apply some honey to your face for a skin-brightening face masque. Warm it ever-so-slightly if necessary
- Great for recovering from hangovers
- Apply to cuts and scrapes for quicker healing