Superfoods part III - Honey | Shahad | Apis mellifera
Honey is one superfood that has mentions in all mythological texts and Vedas. It has often been referred to as the food of Gods. For long, it was the only sweetener the world knew about and was used to flavour drinks, as a medicine and so on.
Honey is produced and consumed across the world. Honey bees make honey from the nectar of flowers.
A few things about honey before the benefits:
- The colour of the honey depends on the flowers the from which the bees use the nectar from
- The colour is also determined by the level of processing the honey has undergone
- Raw Honey is still considered as the best form of honey but it is subject to crystallisation if stored for long. Hence many packaged honey providers today process it and sell pasteurised honey (honey heated to high temperatures). Pure honey or organic honey labels on the honey bottles also may not mean raw honey.
- The labels on these bottles may also describe the type of flowers the bees pollinated to make that honey
- As a thumb rule (while may not always be true), the darker the honey, the more “honey taste” it will have and it will be richer in nutrients
Now that we know what to look for while buying honey, why should be buy it in the first place? There are enough additives we can use for flavours or to sweeten our preparations, then why honey? Here’s why.
Possibly one of the unknown properties of honey is that it can be applied on wounds as an antiseptic. When mixed with water, honey produces Hydrogen Peroxide, a key anti septic that fights against bacteria and helps in the healing of wounds.
Honey contains flavonoids which act as anti-oxidants and help in reducing the risk of heart diseases and cancer.
Honey is also known to increase athletic performance since a tablespoon of honey contains 17 gms of carbohydrates.
It also contains many phytonutrients (plant based nutrients) that help in boosting the immunity, repairing damaged cells, detoxifying the body and improving metabolism.
Another very unique benefit of honey is that it can act against seasonal allergies, since the honey itself might contain pollens present in the natural habitat. Starting with small quantities and increasing it gradually can make the body immune to season allergies. (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317728#Similarities-and-differences)
Lastly, the most common medicinal benefit of honey is that it used as a treatment of cough and sore throat. It has a soothing effect. Many of the cough syrups / medicines for cough available are not suitable for children whereas honey is suitable for most ages. A teaspoon of honey (with no liquid or food after that) before bed can relieve the soreness of throat and cough and result in a peaceful sleep. Honey is supposed to be so effective for sore throat that Ministry of Ayush recommended using it with cloves to boost immunity during the COVID 19 (https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/ImmunityBoostingAYUSHAdvisory.pdf).
How to consume honey?
While one can have honey as it is, having it with different substances, enhances its properties.
When one consumes honey with warm water, it is known to help in weight loss. Typically, people start their day with warm water and honey on an empty stomach. The water has to be warm and not boiling hot.
Honey with lemon water amplifies the benefits of energy, immunity, detoxification and skin health.
Can everyone have Honey?
One of the most common form of allergies is that of pollen. In such a case, the consumption of honey needs to be only after medical clearances.
While it is the best substitute for table sugar, people with a diabetic condition should not have excess honey. While honey is known to regulate blood sugar levels, excessive honey can result in more damage than good.
Honey is also not advised for infants below the age of 1. Honey has botulism bacteria and the Immune systems till the age of 1 are not developed enough to fight this.
When it comes to an ayurvedic medicine for cough, sore throats or phlegm, nothing works like Chyavan KasaNirvah (https://www.chyavanrishi.com/products/chyavan-kasanirvah). We also recommend having it with honey if having it by itself is too spicy. If one is looking for improved immunity as a result of consumption of honey, it perfectly compliments Chyavan Kaya Swastham (https://www.chyavanrishi.com/products/chyavan-kaya-swastham)