02 February 2011

Everything about honey

This wonderfully rich golden liquid is the miraculous product of honey bees and a naturally delicious alternative to white sugar. Although it is available throughout the year, it is an exceptional treat in the summer and fall when it has just been harvested and is at its freshest.
The fascinating process of making honey begins when the bees feast on flowers, collecting the flower nectar in their mouths. This nectar then mixes with special enzymes in the bees' saliva, an alchemical process that turns it into honey. The bees carry the honey back to the hive where they deposit it into the cells of the hive's walls. The fluttering of their wings provides the necessary ventilation to reduce the moisture's content making it ready for consumption.
Health benefits of honey
1. Contain Rich Nutrition :
Its chemical composition consists of:
Complex sugars
Complex carbohydrates
Vitamins and minerals
Amino Acids
2. Offer Antioxidant Protection:
Honey contains antioxidants, powerful compounds which fight free radicals and reverse ageing.
Free radicals are everywhere – in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and even the sunlight we love so much. Every moment, the body absorbs oxygen and turns it into energy in a process called oxidation. This process also releases free radicals.
Antioxidants slow down aging by neutralising these free radicals. They perform healing at the deepest cellular level, allowing honey health benefits to manifest in a myriad of ways.
3. Calorie and Weight Loss:
Two common questions I get asked are: How does honey compare to other sweeteners? Since honey is a type of sugar and contains calories, doesn’t it cause weight gain?
This is a valid concern. Honey is calorie-rich and contains simple sugars such as glucose and fructose. In fact, it contains more calories than table sugar.
According to Dr. David Baer of the USDA Agriculture Research Service, our body tolerates honey better compared table sugar. Eating honey is better for people with diabetic conditions as it is less likely to cause blood sugar spike.
Another 2004 study conducted by the University of California found that eating 4 to 10 tablespoons of buckwheat honey per day for one month did not cause weight gain.
 4. Cure Children Night Cough:
Honey’s soothing qualities may help relieve sore throats and nighttime coughs in children.
Since over-the-counter medicine may be harmful to children, a 2007 study by a Penn State College of Medicine research team found that honey may offer parents an effective and safe alternative.
The study found that taking buckwheat honey at bedtime was more effective for curing cough and sleep difficulty in children than dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications.
Honey did a better job reducing the severity, frequency and bothersome nature of nighttime cough from upper respiratory infection than dextromethorphan or no treatment.
These findings are especially notable since an FDA advisory board recently recommended that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines not be given to children less than 6 years old because of their lack of effectiveness and potential for side effects.
5. Cure Insomnia:
While the above studies have found evidence of honey promoting restful sleep in coughing children and their parents, no study has really been conducted to investigate if eating honey at bedtime will promote higher quality sleep for people suffering from insomnia.
According to Michael McInnes of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, eating a tablespoon or two of honey at bedtime can improve sleep quality without causing weight gain. Using prior studies, he postulated why eating honey may promote restorative sleep.
6. Beautify Skin:
We all know that honey is one of nature’s most delicious treats, but did you know that there are many topical uses for honey as well? There are at least four reasons why it is so effective in beautifying your skin:
It is a well known antibacterial and antifungal agent, and helps disinfect and speed the healing process in wounds, scrapes and burns.
It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which are wonderful beauty aid that nourish the skin.
It contains powerful antioxidants which fight free radicals and reverse ageing
t is rich and thick, making it an effective moisturizer. Like other humectants, honey binds moisture to the skin and helps it stay hydrated.
7. Promote Wounds Healing:
 Honey is one of Nature’s most effective wound dressings.
A 2007 study conducted by Dr. Shona Blair from the University of Sydney tested the antimicrobial capability of honey using problematic pathogens such as
Antibiotic resistant micro-organisms
Anaerobes (60 species)s
Fungi (Candida and Tinea)
She concluded that “honey dressings should be used as a ‘first choice’, not as a ‘last resort’”. It is effective at low concentrations against a broad spectrum of bacteria, fungi, bio-film producing, and resistant organisms. It is cost effective and “has no side effects!”
However, she warned that the type of honey used is important as antimicrobial properties can be 100 X greater from one type to the next.
Her paper entitled, The Grossly Underutilized Anti-microbial was presented to the 2008 First International Symposium on Honey and Human Health on 17 January 2008.
Besides its antimicrobial properties, honey is a powerful wound healer because:
It topically numbs pain
It is osmotic and attracts water.  Since bacteria are mostly made of water, it is sucked dry in the presence of honey.  Bacteria are further inhibited by honey because honey produces hydrogen peroxide and is acidic.
It activates the immune response by providing glucose for the white blood cells.
It speeds up the healing process.  It creates a moist environment by drawing serum up through the skin tissues that helps “moist scab” formation.
Honey also reduces inflammation, helps shed dead tissue, and stimulates the development of new blood cells.  Honey’s antiseptic qualities also help prevent infections from moving to other wounds.
8. Cure Acne Conditions:
Pimples are small skin lesions or inflammations commonly arising from clogged or infected pores. They are not caused by the foods you eat (such as chocolate, soft drinks or greasy foods) or by dirt (blackheads are caused by a pigment, not dirt). The common culprit is – bacteria.
A 2008 study conducted by University of Amsterdam investigated the antibacterial capability of medical grade honey (Revamil). The researchers concluded that honey “is a promising topical antimicrobial agent for prevention or treatment of infections, including those caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria”.
9. Aid Digestion:
Eating honey is good for your stomach and digestion!
Drs. Tobias Olofsson and Alejandra Vasquez from Lund University in Sweden showed evidence from their research that different varietals of honey possess a large amount of friendly bacteria: viable lactobacilli (6 species) and bifidobacteria (4 species), which may explain the “mysterious therapeutic properties of honey.”
Honey also contains complex carbohydrates which are prebiotic i.e. these complex carbohydrates are non digestible. Consuming them encourages the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria in your body
Also, honey contains large amount of enzymes. All these means eating honey will aid digestion and increase energy.
Their paper entitled, Lactobacillus: The Missing Link in Honey’s Enigma was presented to the 2008 First International Symposium on Honey and Human Health on 17 January 2008.
10. Improve Sport Performance:
Studies at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory found that honey may be one of the most effective forms of carbohydrate to eat just prior to exercise.
Honey eaten before exercise is digested easily and released into the system at a steady rate for use by the body.
The study involved a group of 39 weight-trained athletes, both male and female. Subjects underwent an intensive weight-lifting workout and then immediately consumed a protein supplement blended with either sugar, maltodextrin or honey as the carbohydrate source.
The honey group maintained optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following the workout. In addition, muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration (carbohydrates stored in muscle) was favorable in those individuals consuming the honey-protein combination.
How to Buy and Store
Honey is sold in individual containers or in bulk. It is usually pasteurized, although oftentimes at farmer's markets you can find raw honey. Raw honey that has not been pasteurized, clarified, or filtered - provided it is of the highest organic quality - is your best choice. Look for honey that states "100% pure." While regular honey is translucent, creamy honey is usually opaque and is made by adding finely crystallized honey back into liquid honey. Specialty honeys, made from the nectar of different flowers, such as thyme and lavender, are also available. Remember that the darker the color, the deeper the flavor.
You might also look for darker-colored "honeydew" varieties produced by bees that collect the sugary secretions insects leave on plants, which is called honeydew.
While all honey has impressive levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, a recent study of Spanish honey varieties shows that honeydew honey has even higher levels of antioxidant polyphenols than honeys bees make from nectar.
Spanish researchers looked at 36 varieties of Spanish honey in two groups: clover honey, which bees make from the nectar of flower blossoms, and honeydew honey, made by bees from a sweet, sticky substance secreted by insects such as aphids that live off plants. Honeydew honey tends to be darker and more acidic than clover varieties. Although harder to find than clover honey in the U.S., honeydew honey produced in America should also provide higher levels of antioxidants, noted study co-author Rosa Anna Perez, a researcher with the Instituto Madrileno de Investigacion y Desarrollo Rural, Agrario y Alimentario in Madrid.
It is important to keep honey stored in an airtight container so that it doesn't absorb moisture from the air. Honey stored this way in a cool dry place will keep almost indefinitely. One reason for this is that its high sugar content and acidic pH help to inhibit microorganism growth. Honey that is kept at colder temperatures tends to thicken, while honey that is kept at higher temperatures has a tendency to darken and have an altered flavor.
 6 ways to serve:
- Use honey in place of table sugar as a sweetener in your tea.
- Drizzle apple slices with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- To enjoy sweetened yogurt without excess sugar, mix a little honey into plain yogurt.
- A delicious sandwich that is enjoyed by kids of all ages is a combination of peanut (or almond) butter, with bananas and honey.
- In a saucepan over low heat, combine soymilk, honey and unsweetened dark chocolate to make a deliciously nutritious chocolate "milk" drink.
- Mix honey and ground sesame.make a sandwich with it

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