As the cold season is nearing, many patients ask about the use of honey. Honey has been utilized since ancient times. In many cultures, honey has been used as a form of medicine topically and orally. Some properties of honey include:
▪ 70-80% sugar; majority of it being fructose and glucose ▪ Easily absorbed by the body ▪ Contains various antioxidants, trace amounts of vitamins and minerals
Honey has been used for a variety of reasons. Due to its antibacterial and healing properties, many people use it as a cough suppressant to treat upper respiratory infections. However, babies under the age of one should not be fed honey because of the risk of botulism. One simple recipe would be to add some honey in your tea for that soothing effect on your throat. You many even want to add in slices of orange for some extra vitamin C. Also, coughing is not a bad thing because it helps clear mucus from your airway, so an occasional cough is not a concern.
Another use for honey is as an energy source. Typically, one tablespoon of honey can provide 17 grams of carbohydrates as opposed to sugar which is fewer (15 grams). With that being said, people with diabetes should be aware of their carbohydrate and calorie count when using honey as a substitute for granulated white or brown sugar. Because honey can provide a decent amount of carbohydrates, it may be beneficial for athletes to consume pre and post exercise for an added boost of energy. Some ideas may be to mix it in the water, spread it on a piece of bread, make a peanut butter honey sandwich, or just eat it on its own. There is even flavored honey available such as chocolate honey, chocolate mint honey, and cinnamon honey.
When consuming high amounts of honey, one of the things to keep in mind are it’s interaction with drugs you may be taking for blood thinning i.e. anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin, Coumadin, and Plavix. Honey inhibits platelet aggregation and increases its time to clot. There are cases of increase bleeding when honey is consumed with Ginkgo Biloba, an herbal supplement which is also believed to increase the risk of bleeding.
Avoid honey if you are allergic to pollen. Honey, which is made from pollen, may cause allergic reactions.
Types of Honey
There are many types of honey that differ in color, flavor, and aroma due to its variance in the type of flower the bees collect their nectar from. There are over 300 types of honey available in the United States. Most of the honeys that you will find at general stores are clover honey and blends of honey. However, you may find more variety of honeys online, and you can also buy from local honey bee growers. To name are few:
- Clover: It is commonly sold in the United States. They generally have a mild taste, but depending on the location and source of clover, the color of the honey varies. - Manuka: Generally produced in New Zealand, it is also commonly used topically on the skin. - Alfalfa: It generally has a light, mild flavor and aroma. It pairs well with creamy/dairy foods. - Blueberry: They are typically light in color with a well-rounded flavor. - Buckwheat: It is produced throughout the United States as well as in eastern Canada. They are thick and rich in flavor and contain more antioxidant components than other lighter honeys. Buckwheat is paired well with spice-laced baked goods. - Sage: Primarily produced in California, this honey has a mild taste and color. It is commonly used in honey packets due to its property of slow granulation.
In addition to a variety of honeys, honey producers also make honey blends. Honey blends are a mixture of different types of honey to create a unique taste and color.
How to Choose Honey?
Currently, there are 3 established certified measures of antibacterial properties: UMF (Unique Manuka Factor), NPA (Non-peroxide Activity), and MGO (methylgloxal rating). The most common measure is UMF. UMF honey rating tells you the full non-peroxide antibacterial level, which is the component that has antibacterial properties. Thus, the higher the UMF factor, the higher the antibacterial level. UMF ratings with a “+” indicates that the factor may be more than the number given. Honey with a rating of at least 10 UMF is considered beneficial and are sold as UMF honey or active honey.
Honey that is considered good quality honey should have a water content of 18% or less. As mentioned, high levels of water can cause crystallization of honey. Also, darker honeys have higher mineral contentment than lighter honeys. You should also make sure you read the food label so that you know what you’re getting. The honey that you buy may not be 100% honey as many processors add fructose corn syrup and food coloring into the honey.
How to store Honey?
Storage of honey is fairly simple. They can be stored in dry place in room temperature (~50F-80F). Storing it in your pantry shelf or kitchen cupboard is most ideal. Occasionally, you will see crystallization forming in the honey because moisture may have gotten into the honey or it was stored in a cold place. For example, storing honey in the refrigerator may accelerate crystallization. Crystallization of honey makes it look lumpy and grainy but it is not a sign of spoilage. If your honey crystallizes, just place the honey jar with the lid off in warm water until the crystals disappear. However, be careful not to heat it too much as too much heat causes the honey to change color and flavor. Honey is best stored in glass jars as honey can absorb moisture and odors. Try not to store honey in metal containers because it could cause the honey to oxidize. Throw out honey if it starts to smell sour.
When using honey as a sugar substitute, try replacing 1 teaspoon of white sugar with a ¼ teaspoon of honey. In baking, add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used to neutralize honey’s acidity, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup of honey used, and reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over browning.
Interested in learning about weight goal and nutrition needs? Schedule a free body weight and fat% analysis with Hazel at 626-283-5128 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.