Honey: Facts and Fictions

There is a lot of buzz around the benefits of natural honey. Why all the interest? Honey is a minimally processed sweetener when it is purchased from a local, trusted source and it offers some unique health benefits. But you may be surprised that some commonly held beliefs about other benefits of honey are false.Unlike refined sugar, local honey is not heavily processed so it keeps nutrients and other naturally occurring compounds. When you buy honey from a farmers’ market or other local source, you are more assured of getting a high quality product.  Honey is one of the most counterfeited foods on supermarket shelves because most honey found in grocery stores has had the pollen filtered out, which makes it impossible to detect if it is 100% pure honey. According to Food Safety News, some of these honeys have been cut with corn syrup or may contain antibiotics or heavy metals.

In addition to tasting delicious, honey offers some health benefits as well. A peer reviewed, double blind study showed that a teaspoon or two of honey can be an effective remedy for cough. However, because of the risk of botulism, honey should never be given to infants under the age of 1. Honey also offers some antibacterial properties and has been shown to inhibit the growth of e. coli and salmonella and some bacteria.

Many people turn to local honey to combat seasonal allergies. Despite this fact that, a study showed that contrary to popular belief, this does not help to relieve allergies. When you are using honey as a sweetener, keep in mind that our bodies process it just like any other sugar. All forms of sugar are simple carbohydrates and have 4 calories per gram. Be careful that you are not using excess amounts of honey in place of more heavily processed sweeteners. Too much of any type of sugar can contribute to chronic disease.

Honey doesn’t get any more local than when it is comes from a hive in your own back yard. You may be surprised at how easy it is to keep bees.  Not only will you be rewarded with delicious, natural honey, but pollination from bees is necessary to keep plants and flowers growing strong. Check you zoning regulations to make sure that it is legal to keep beehives on your property. Once you have done so, there are many resources availble to get you started.  World of Beekeeping offers a free kit to get started. There are beekeeping associations in most states as well as resources available from your local agricultural extension program.

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