Inside: Honey, that sticky sweet liquid made by busy bees is chock full of vitamins, minerals, and pure goodness. It’s used to fight certain diseases, suppress a cough, heal a wound, bury the dead and more. With over 300 varieties available, here are 22 interesting facts about honey.
Did you know that honey is considered a very healthy food? The reason is simple…honey is loaded with vitamins, minerals, enzymes (which are important for digestion), antioxidants, flavonoids and more.
Flavonoids are phytochemicals and give fruits and vegetables their beautiful colors. They also protect the plants against disease and when we eat those foods, our bodies reap the benefits from these nutrients.
Antioxidants protect us against free radicals in our bodies.
Interesting Facts About Honey
Here are four fun facts about honey:
- Honey has been around for thousands of years. In fact, it’s as old as the honeybee!
- Beekeeping has been practiced since 700 B.C.
- Many early civilizations used honey for medicinal purposes and slathered the sticky stuff on their wounds to help speed up the healing process.
- Supposedly the body of Alexander the Great was embalmed with honey and because this “liquid gold” was fairly scarce, only the wealthy had access to it.
But, a fascinating aspect of honey is how it’s produced…thank you, honey bees!
All About Bees: The Story of the Honeybee
When you purchase honey, do you ever stop to think how much time and effort those thousands of bees worked to create such amazing food? (probably not…)
Here are some basic facts about the amazing honeybee and how they produce honey:
A beehive usually consists of between 20,000-60,000 bees. These busy-bee workers pollinate, gather nectar, and return to the hive where they regurgitate the nectar into another bee’s mouth. This process is repeated until the nectar is put into a honeycomb.
At this point, the nectar is mostly a liquid so the bees use their wings to “fan” the honey, which causes the water to evaporate.
Eventually, the bees seal the honeycomb with a liquid from its’ stomach and it hardens into beeswax. Now, the bee has something to eat for the winter months!
This is just half the story. Bees literally travel all over to gather nectar from flowers. In fact, they travel the equivalent of two times around the world for this sweet substance. And they do it in their short lifespan of a few weeks to four months.
At the end of its life, the bee’s contribution to the hive is one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey!
But every bit that every bee gives is important because collectively the bees produce about 60 pounds of honey in a year.
Bees are an amazing example of the power of team players. Each contribution is necessary and needed to sustain the hive throughout the year.
The next time you purchase a bottle of honey, take a good look at this liquid gold and reflect on the sacrifice of the thousands of bees that went into making this for you.
This substance (basically regurgitated from a bee’s stomach) has incredible benefits. Here are a few:
Benefits of Honey: 5 Reasons Honey is Good for Kids & Adults
Before launching into the benefits of honey, here are two things to remember:
First, do NOT give honey to children one year of age or younger. Why? Because honey can have a bacteria called Clostridium botulism which can cause infant botulism. And, it can be fatal.
Second, before giving honey to your child, check for a pollen allergy. Raw honey usually contains traces of pollen and may cause issues with your child’s digestive system. It doesn’t happen often, but there is still a possibility.
Now, for the benefits:
Since ancient times, honey has helped heal wounds. Two reasons: honey has an anti-inflammatory action which brings down the swelling of the wound and it has antimicrobial activity that kills germs and clears the infection.
Today, honey producers in New Zealand and Australia have honey tested in laboratories to gather samples with the highest germ-killing activity. These kinds of honey are labeled ‘antiseptic” and sold to customers.
Researchers in New Zealand found that
- Unprocessed (raw) honey protects against tooth decay
- It reduces the amount of acid produced by bacteria in the mouth responsible for dental decay to almost zero
- Unprocessed honey contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide which can fight periodontal disease and gingivitis (both inflammatory conditions due to infected gums)
- It fights infections of the gum and reduces swelling and pain very quickly
When your child gets a runny nose or a bad cough…what do you do? Run to the medicine cabinet?
Here’s a better solution:
- Mix together 1 tablespoon of warm honey and a dash of cinnamon powder
- Give the mixture to your child 2x/day until the symptoms have vanished.
- Give one of the doses at night for a restful night’s sleep.
Your child will like the taste…it’s very sweet and soothing.
Why does it work? Again, honey kills viruses (antiviral), kills bacteria (antibacterial) and is high in antioxidants that help fight infection.
#4: Energy without the Caffeine
We all know how a soda or cup of coffee perks us up and gives us energy. However, there’s a healthier solution for energy…honey.
Kids also need sustained focused energy, so try this with them, too. (especially when they’ve been playing too many video games).
Ditch the sodas and coffee and give everyone 1 tablespoon of honey each day. Raw honey is the best and Manuka honey is even more amazing (see below). Every tablespoon of honey provides
- 17 grams of high-quality carbohydrates
- A combination of different B vitamins
- Essential minerals, calcium, and magnesium in a natural, bio-available form.
The perfect energy booster!
#5: Builds the Immune System
Everyone wants to stay well, which means having a strong immune system that fights off disease, colds, flu and a host of other health issues. Coconut Oil helps to boost the immune system, but giving honey to kids may be an easier alternative.
Honey helps to stimulate the production of immune cells in the body and with more and stronger immune cells, it’s easier to stay healthy. Raw honey also contains an immune-boosting, probiotic bacteria to keep us healthy.
For an extra punch of immune-building activity add ginger and lemon to your honey tea.
Types of Honey: Raw, Processed or Certified Organic
Raw or Unprocessed Honey
This is honey that comes right from the beehive. It is unheated, unpasteurized and unprocessed so that all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes are intact (enzymes are important for digestion). It tends to be thicker, cloudier, and is brimming with healthy goodness!
For many years I purchased raw, unprocessed honey from a beekeeper (until he retired). Our family loved it; we ate it out of the jar and I baked with it; substituting sugar with honey.
This is honey that has been heated to at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit. It is thinner in consistency and pretty much 100% of the nutrients are destroyed in the heating process. Microscopic particles and the pollen so important to the nutrient-dense honey are destroyed leaving behind a thin, watery substance. This is most of the honey found in grocery stores and 76% of it is considered “fake,” because it’s not pure honey and other substances (like high fructose corn syrup) have been added.
This kind of honey has a lot of gray areas. First, honey can be certified organic by the US government, but they have no regulations to define organic honey. And, they do not inspect for organic honey.
However, there are independent certifying agencies in the US that certify for organic honey, but it’s expensive and requires a lot of research and careful documentation about the bees such as:
- where the bees go to pollinate
- where they live
- what the beekeeper feeds them
- how they are treated for parasites, etc.
If you are at all worried about the risk of botulism, pollen issues, pesticide or other chemicals, stick with certified organic honey.
My suggestion: if you have access to a beekeeper that you love and trust, I would purchase my honey from him/her.
Nutritional Value of Honey: 7 Different Kinds of Honey
Believe it or not, there are over 300 types of honey and each type is good for a different ailment. What determines the taste, the look and even the smell of a honey depends on the nectar source of the honeybee.
Here are seven interesting kinds of honey and their nutritional value:
#1 Clover Honey
Clover honey is the kind I ate as a child and is my favorite. Love the mild taste, texture, and smell! There is more clover honey in the United States than any other.
- Heals Wounds
- Controls liver issues
- Regulates cholesterol
- Treats burns
- Helps to eliminate coughing (especially with children)
#2 Manuka Honey
Is made primarily in New Zealand and is good for the stomach and intestines and protects against the formation of gastric ulcers, 12-duodenal ulcers, and gastric cancer.
I’m not wild about the taste of this honey, but I have 1 tablespoon each day—because I know it’s good for me. (liver is good for you too—but this honey is easier to swallow!)
#3 Alfalfa Honey
You can find this honey throughout the United States and Canada. It helps with cardio issues and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties
#4 Avocado Honey
This honey is from California avocado blossoms. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals and can be used to slather on burns.
#5 Buckwheat Honey
This dark honey is produced in the Eastern United States and is filled with antioxidants. Plus, it has more antibiotic characteristics that even Manuka honey! It’s loaded with lots of vitamins and minerals (all bioavailable because it’s a natural source) and important enzymes to help aid in digestion.
#6 Blueberry Honey
Blueberries are considered one of the healthiest fruits on the market. They help with night vision, memory, aging and they are the greatest anti-cancer of any fruit. And, honey made from the white flowers of the blueberry bush is equally as healthy and has some of the highest antibacterial antioxidants. It’s produced in “blueberry” country: New England and Michigan
#7 Eucalyptus Honey
Like the eucalyptus plant, there are many different varieties of this honey from California.
Have you ever used essential-grade eucalyptus oil? It helps with a host of health challenges and so does the honey. Take at least 1 teaspoon each day to protect your body. It’s:
- Helps with acne (yes, just slather it on your skin)
- Can be used as an insect repellent (which would be rather sticky!)
- Helps with respiratory, sinus, and bladder infections.
Homemade Remedies Using Honey
Honey can also be used for acne, diabetes, eczema, dandruff, eyelash balm, and more. Here are some websites that give recipes to help with these conditions with your children:
Because of the benefits of honey, try incorporating it into your family’s diet–on your oatmeal, your toast, or substitute honey when cooking. Have your family try different kinds of honey and eat at least 1 tablespoon a day for better health.
Do you have a favorite recipe that you use with honey? Does your family have a favorite way they enjoy eating honey? What is your favorite kind of honey? Please comment in the section below.