The following text is excerpted from Natural Life Magazine, Nov-Dec 2004.
Buzzing with Nutrition - by Rosemarie Campbell
© Natural Life Magazine & Rosemarie Campbell
All rights reserved (photo image displayed here is from Bragg stock).
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Honey is a delicious treat spread on toast or eaten right out of the jar like Winnie the Pooh. But it is much more than just a yummy food product. Honey is the subject of a great deal of modern health research—and the results indicate this food deserves our closer examination. A jar of honey likely loiters at the back of your kitchen board labeled either "pasteurized" or "non-pasteurized." We think of the pasteurization process as a health matter, ensuring products such as milk or apple juice are safe for mass consumption. However, the pasteurization of honey is a marketing issue, not a health concern. The heating process in honey pasteurization extends the shelf life of the food by destroying the natural "seed" crystals that cause granulation and fermentation. If packers want their product to remain liquid for a long period of time, as on grocery store shelves, pasteurization is a necessity. If you've purchased raw or non-pasteurized honey and it crystallized over time, you may be tempted to discard it. Actually, the crystallization process has nothing to do with its purity or moisture content, but depends on the proportion of the various sugars in the honey, which, in turn depends on the floral sources used by the bees. In fact, honey keeps almost indefinitely—edible honey has even been unearthed from Egyptian ruins...
...Honey is a powerhouse of nutrition, delivering fructose, glucose, water and other sugars, in addition to many enzymes, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. In addition, it contains a host of antioxidants, which are used by the body to eliminate free radicals (nasty molecules which zip around in healthy cells and have the potential to damage them). It therefore makes a good alternative to sugar in food and drink...
...According to a Theban papyrus written in 1870 BC, the Egyptians fed and healed their children with honey. The Greek philosopher Aristotle often prescribed different types of honey for different ailments. While honey was known to have powerful wound-healing properties in ancient times, its properties seem to have been forgotten but are now enjoying a revival...
Not Just Clover!
Here are some of the many kinds of honey available in specialty food shops.
||Calming, energizing, helps ease digestion problems. Suitable for young children.
||Mild laxative effect; appetite stimulant.
||Anti-anemic, energizing, diuretic. Excellent for those suffering from rheumatism, severe tiredness, urinary problems, and those convalescing
||Aids poor circulation
||Eases sinus and urinary problems
|For more information on types of honey, see the published article.
..North America has many varieties, the most common being clover, but other delicious varieties are produced from the nectar of canola, alfalfa, blueberries, sunflowers, fruit trees, borage and wildflowers. Especially noteworthy is Manuka honey. Its properties contain a component that is effective against resistant bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus (a drug resistant hospital killer) and helicobacter pylori (the bacterium that causes ulcers). Bees gather pollen from the flowers of the Manuka Bush, which is indigenous to New Zealand and it seems the relatively pollution-free environment of that country enriches the honey making process...
...Bees are perhaps the most economically valuable of all in sects, not only producing honey and beeswax, but also Royal Jelly, Propolis and Bee Pollen. And, in the process, the industrious bee pollinates a great variety of crops. Royal Jelly is richly packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids and antibiotics - an excellent supplement for the older generation. Recognized by both scientists and doctors for its medicinal properties, Royal Jelly plays an important role in the prevention of certain health problems and the relief of others...
...Some not-so-scientific research has also found that honey can speed alcohol metabolism to sober up a person. The high fructose content may help to relieve that morning-after hang-over and the tired feeling that goes along with it. And while we're referring to alcoholic beverages, did you know mead is a special kind of wine created by fermenting honey in water? It is believed to be the oldest strong drink known to humans...
...Have you ever wondered where the term "Honeymoon" came from? It's a direct reference to mead! Throughout history, many cultures developed customs for weddings. One custom called for the bride and the groom to drink mead on their wedding night. The couple would then continue to drink it each day for a complete month (one moon). The belief was, if this ritual were carried out, the wife would give birth to a son. Today, mead is enjoying a revival, with nearly 100 commer-cial meaderies operating worldwide and countless thousands of meadmakers concocting the brew in their homes...
...So it seems that the honeybee provides much more than a tasty sweet spread for toast. Winnie the Pooh might have been on to something after all!
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