Health and Wellness

Honey-a healthy substitute for regular sugar

honey-A healthy substitute of sugar
Written by Banani Chakraborty

Honey is actually a healthy substitute for regular sugar due to its numerous health benefits. It is a thick, sweet, syrup-like, golden liquid that bees produce.

Honey bees produce this sweet and sticky foodstuff. At first, honey bees collect the sugary excretions of plants. They mainly collect it from sugar-rich nectar of flowers from the environment. Then they make it by regurgitation, enzymatic activity as well as water evaporation.

After producing honey bees store it in wax structures. These are famous as honeycombs. Honey is sweet because of the glucose and monosaccharides fructose. Honey is almost same sweet as table sugar or sucrose. People generally collect it from wild bee colonies along with hives of domesticated bees.

Honey-a healthy substitute for regular sugar:

To begin with, we must show our gratitude towards nature for presenting us such a miracle gift. We are using it since ancient times not only as food but also medicine. Generally, we grade it by colour. Usually, golden amber and clear variety of it is costly than the darker varieties. Its taste differs based on the kinds of flower from which the nectar was yielded.

What is honey?

benefits of honeys

source google image

It is a thick, sweet, syrup-like, golden liquid. Bees produce it using the nectar of flowers. They save it inside the beehive. They eat it during scarcity. Bees store it in wax-like structures famous as the honeycomb.

We get it in raw as well as pasteurized form. At first, people remove it raw from the hive and thereafter bottle it directly. Therefore, it will contain trace amounts of pollen, yeast and wax. If we consume local raw honey, then there is every possibility of seasonal allergies. This is due to the fact that we get repeated exposure to the pollen of that region.   On the other hand, people heat and process it to eliminate impurities and to make it pasteurized.

It contains not only a high level of glucose but also fructose and monosaccharides. It gets the sweetness due to monosaccharides fructose along with glucose. Besides, it possesses nice-looking chemical belongings for baking. Besides, as a sweetener, it possesses a unique taste.

It also contains antibacterial and antiseptic properties. As per modern medical science, it is effective in healing chronic wound and fighting infection.

How bees make honey?

To begin with, around 60000 bees together travel 55000miles and visit approximately 2 million flowers to gather nectar for preparing one pound of it. At first, bees gather the nectar. Then they store it in their extra stomachs. Here, it mixes with enzymes. Afterwards, they pass it to another bee’s mouth by means of regurgitation. In this way, the nectar becomes partially digested and is stored into the honeycomb. Finally, they fan it with their wings to evaporate the water. They make it in this process.

Types of honey:

Actually, it is available in a lot of varieties in the market depending on plant sources along with the extraction method. It may be either raw or pasteurized. It may be monofloral or unifloral (flower species are one type) as well as polyfloral or multifloral (flower species are different).

Common types of honey are:

common types of honey

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  • Alfalfa honey.
  • Avocado honey.
  • Acacia honey
  • Aster honey
  • Basswood honey
  • Buckwheat honey.
  • Blueberry honey.
  • Bluegum honey
  • Lavender honey
  • Manuka honey.
  • Clover honey.
  • Eucalyptus honey
  • Jamun honey
  • Orange blossom honey.
  • Rosemary honey
  • Sage honey.

 Fast Facts on Honey:

  • We are using it as medicine for over 5000 years.
  • We will not provide it to children below 1 year of age.
  • It has both wound-healing and antibacterial properties.
  • We can replace sugar in meals with the help of it and provide a healthy option. However, they will insert browning and excess moisture to a dish.
  • Because most of the microorganisms do not grow in it, therefore sealed honey does not spoil. So we can use it even after thousands of years.
  • It is the only food that does not spoil due to very low moisture content. As a result, bacteria cannot live there because the osmotic pressure is very high
  • As it is hygroscopic, so it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Therefore, we will store it in a well-sealed container.

Top honey producing countries worldwide:

In 2017, the global production of it was 1.9 million tones. China is the leading producer of it worldwide with 29% of global production in 2017. Other top producing countries are

source google image

  • Turkey.
  • Iran.
  • The United States of America.
  • Mexico,
  • Brazil.
  • New Zealand.
  • Ukraine.
  • Russia.
  • India.

What are the uses of honey as food?

The main uses of it are in

  • Cooking
  • Baking
  • As a spread on bread
  • Desserts
  • As a sweetener in some commercial beverages
  • As an addition to various beverages like tea.

What is the Nutrition of honey?

In the first place, the nutrients in it make it a healthy diet. It is a very good item among healthy eating habits.

The nutrients value and chemical composition of raw honey differ between different countries along with environments. Not only that, but it also depends somewhat upon the nature of flowers the bees collect their nectar from. Nonetheless, it still holds healthy compounds, like vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids.

One tablespoon or 21 grams (g) of raw honey provides 64 calories and 16 grams of sugar. To tell the truth, they may vary between brands and batches.

Nutritional value of it per 100g (3.5oz) is as follows:

Energy: 1273 kJ (304 kcal).

Carbohydrates: 82.42 g

Sugars: 82.13 g

Dietary fibre: 0.2 g

Protein: 0.3 g

Fat: 0 g

Natural honey possesses small amounts of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Panthothenic acid
  • Niacin
  • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Certain amino acid
  • calcium
  • iron
  • potassium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • sodium
  • zinc
  • phosphorous

(Please read mango).

Sugar profile of honey:

It contains a healthy glycemic index and it ranges from 31 to 79 and depends on the variety. It indicates that it has a moderate effect on blood sugar levels.

As per 1980 study on mixed floral honey from some regions of the United States, it contains approximately

  • Fructose: 38.3%
  • Glucose: 31.2%
  • Sucrose: 1.2%
  • Maltose: 7.1%
  • Water: 17.3%
  • Higher sugars: 1.5%
  • Ash: 0.2%
  • Other/undetermined: 3.1%

Benefits of honey:

People generally consume it for its various health benefits. As a matter of fact, modern science is finding several proofs of the historical uses of it.

Helps to control Cholesterol:

It possesses both natural minerals and vitamins. Therefore, it can aid to metabolize unexpected cholesterol and fatty acid on the organs and tissues into our system. Furthermore, it is rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids. In fact, they are free of cholesterol and fat.

Several studies show that it can lower ‘bad LDL cholesterol level. At the same time, it can increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol level.

(Also read olive oil).

Honey contains simple carbohydrates:

It is a very good source of simple carbohydrates. Nectar basically contains sucrose and water. Afterwards, bees add enzymes. It, in turn, makes additional chemical compounds as well as a special nutrition value. Later, it converts the sucrose into fructose and glucose and evaporates the water. Therefore, the resulting products (in raw form) do not spoil.

(Read walnuts).

This is why it does not spoil.

Honey is rich in antioxidants:

As raw it contains several plant chemicals that perform the role of antioxidants. High quality of it holds the same amount of antioxidants as we get from fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants include flavonoids, phytochemicals and ascorbic acid.

Free radicals can cause cell damage in our body. It also contributes to the ageing process. Besides, it can develop chronic diseases like cancer and heart problems. Antioxidants in it help us to fight the harmful effects of free radicals.

(May read banana).

Honey holds antibacterial and antifungal properties:

Researches revealed that raw honey is able to kill both the unwanted bacteria and fungus. It holds hydrogen peroxide and glucose oxidase as well as low pH level. It means that it can kill damaging bacteria and fungi.  Due to its unique chemical composition, yeast and bacteria cannot grow.

But it is a folk remedy.

Healing wounds and burns:

People use it to treat burns as well as other skin damages. Preliminary evidence of 26 studies revealed that it helps to heal partial thickness burns quicker than all other dressings as well as post-operative contaminations or infections. Moreover, it can treat diabetic foot ulcers effectively.

Researchers believe that its curative powers come from antibacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Further, it is able to nourish the surrounding tissue. It also helps to treat other skin conditions like psoriasis and herpes lesions.

Manuka honey is very effective to treat burn wounds.

Help to fight diarrhoea:

Researches on it also revealed that it can lower the severity and duration of diarrhoea. As it betters potassium and water intake, so it is helpful to fight diarrhoea.

Research also revealed that it can block the effects of pathogens that generally cause diarrhoea.

Preventing acid reflux:

The current research showed that honey may decrease the upward flow of stomach acid along with undigested food by coating the oesophagus and stomach. So it can lessen the danger of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can be a source of acid reflux, inflammation, and heartburn.

Relieving cold and cough symptoms:

As per the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, we can use it as a natural remedy against cold and cough. The American Academy of Pediatrics also suggests it treat cough. Therefore, it is beneficial in fighting cold and cough.

However, they recommend that it is not good for children under one year of age.

Penn State College of Medicine in a study in 2007 proposed it can lower night-time coughing. Moreover, it can better sleep quality in children.

Replacing added sugar in the diet:

Most importantly, honey is a great source of natural sugar:

Indeed, it is 80% natural sugar mostly due to fructose and glucose. Because of a high amount of fructose, it is sweeter than table sugar. As a result, it is an ideal alternative for sugar in our diet.

Added sugar in the diet gives excess calories without any nutritional benefit. This may lead to increased body weight. Therefore, it enhances the risk of the high blood pressure along with diabetes.

Consequently, we may add it to our food and beverages to sweeten the taste without the negative health impact of added sugars. However, we need to use it cautiously since it is a sweetener.

Honey diet for weight loss:

It is a very effective ingredient to lose weight in a natural way. For this, we need to take one spoon of it before going to bed for sleep. At the same time, we must remember that we must not use sugar or artificial sweetener in any form. (Also read apple).

Moreover, we shall do the followings:

  • Avoid junk food.
  • Consume protein.
  • Opt for low-carb fruits like rhubarb and berries
  • Choose unrefined carbs
  • No potato

Further, we need some exercise and yoga for better result. In fact, honey performs as fuel and assists the liver to produce glucose. This glucose maintains a high sugar level in the brain. As a result, it forces to discharge fat-burning hormones.

Furthermore, we may use it and lemon juice for weight loss. (May also read uses of lemons). After waking up in the morning we will drink one glass of a mixture of 1-2 teaspoons of it and hot water with a squeeze of lemon.

Improves sleep:

If we take one tablespoon of it with hot milk, then it helps to improve our quality of sleep. Honey discharges serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter that helps to better our mood. Then our body converts it in melatonin. This chemical compound helps to regulate our sound and sufficient sleep.

(May read, deep sleep and

sleep paralysis).

Honey cures hangovers:

It can also provide us with excellent energy at the time of exercise.

At first, we shall dissolve 1-2 tablespoon of it in water and drink at the time of exercise. We may use it to remove our hangover when we come home being tired. We get fresh energy and motivation.

(Also read how to stay motivated).

What are the benefits of honey for our skin and face?

honey benefits for skin and hair

source google image

It is an unbelievable ingredient that results in miracles for our skin. The benefits are as follows:

  • Hydrates the skin.
  • Lighten the scars.
  • Fights acne and pimple.
  • Moisturizes the skin from deep inside.
  • Helps minimizes wrinkles.
  • Gentle exfoliator.
  • Useful in sunburn. (Also read sunscreen cream).
  • Brighten skin complexion.
  • Acts as a pore cleanser.
  • Reverses age.
  • Helps to maintain skin pH balance.
  • Adds a natural glow. (May read wash our face for clearer and healthier skin).

(Also read rosewater benefit).

Honey for Hair:

It helps to fight dandruff. Moreover, it aids to have silky hair. Besides, it assists us to fight the loss of hair.

Helps to get a flawless skin:

Indeed, it works as a wonderful moisturizer. We can make many homemade DIY with it to have flawless skin. Besides, it may improve symptoms of rosacea. Furthermore, we can use it in many ways in our skincare routine. It also helps to remove dry skin.

What are the uses of Honey?

We use honey in many ways. Below are some of its uses.

Medicinal use:

Most importantly, we may use honey to treat various ailments, illnesses, and injuries like

  • weakness
  • obesity
  • Stress (also read stress management technique).
  • vision problems
  • teething pain, in children over a year old
  • cough and asthma
  • bad breath
  • overcome hangover
  • arthritis
  • hiccups
  • high blood pressure( May read benefits of apple)
  • Eczema and dermatitis
  • stomach ulcers
  • diarrhoea and dysentery
  • jaundice
  • vomiting
  • bedwetting and frequent urination
  • burns, cuts, and wounds

Although honey may not be equally effective in all the above-mentioned cases, still it will not worsen the condition or cause harm.

We may also use it sometimes as a beauty solution for dry, cracked, pimply, or clogged skin.

Dietary use:

Below are some tips for using it in the diet:

  • Use it into coffee or tea as a sweetener.
  • Mix it into yoghurt, cereal, or oatmeal for a more natural sweetener.
  • Use it to sweeten our marinades as well as dressings.
  • Spread raw honey over whole-grain toast and top with peanut butter.
  •  Add a little bit of it on top of toast or pancakes.

How much honey a day?

See above.

Is it good to eat honey every day?

See the above.

What are the risks of honey?

As per the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations, men and women will consume daily less than 150 and 100 calories from added sugar. It means that men can take 3tablespoons of it daily while women can take two tablespoons (six teaspoons). But, at the same time, we must remember that we should not take added sugar in any other form.

What are the side effects of eating honey?

Few people are allergic to bee pollen like some components. They may sometimes be very fatal and serious.

These signs and symptoms may be as follows:

  • Vomiting.
  • Irregular heart rhythms.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Weakness.
  • Wheezing and other asthmatic symptoms.
  • Nausea.

Precautions and warnings of honey:

  1. At first, there is a high chance of increasing sugar levels in the blood because it contains no fibre. As a result, sugar is totally absorbed in the blood. Therefore, it may lead to diabetes. Due to this, a diabetic patient should try to avoid consuming it. Otherwise, they must consult an expert before taking it.
  2. Secondly, it is not suitable for children below one year. It may cause serious food poisoning due to clostridium botulinum.
  3. Thirdly, pregnant women, as well as breastfeeding mother, should try to avoid it due to contaminants.
  4. Fourthly, we must not heat it because it may generate Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). It is a chemical compound that may harm the DNA.
  5. If we eat too much of it, then it may lead to several stomach problems like diarrhoea, bloating and stomach cramps. Moreover, it may disturb the smooth function of the small intestine. Therefore, it may cause irregularities in absorbing nutrients.
  6. Moreover, allergic patients may experience difficulty in swallowing, asthma, itching, lung as well as tongue inflammation and shortness of breath. Therefore, they should consult an expert before consuming it.
  7. Besides, some honey may cause heart problems, low blood pressure along with chest pain.
  8. Added to this, taking too much of it may erode the enamel because of excessive sugary content. It also the harbinger of acidophilic bacteria that causes cavities in teeth.

How to decrystallize honey?

How to recrystallize honey

source canva.comSometimes it may crystallize in the jar. Indeed, this is common and natural. It does not mean that it has spoiled. This is not only edible but also tasty as liquid honey.  But if anyone does not like crystallized honey, he may easily recrystallize it. We can add heat to soften it. Actually, the process is not very hard. Only, we will remember one thing that overheating may change the quality. It may lose both its nutrients and benefits. Therefore, we will liquefy it in a glass jar applying indirect, low and constant heat.

At first, we need to place a sealed glass jar of it into a large glass or ceramic bowl. We will either keep the mouth open or not seal the jar very tightly. If it is in a plastic bottle, then we will spoon out the crystallized honey into a sealed glass jar.

Then, we will heat a pot of water between 950 F to 1100 F of temperature.

Then, we will set the sealed jar in the pot. We will ensure that the water will be above the level of it in the jar. But it will remain below the cover. Moreover, the jar needs to remain straight. Otherwise, the water accidentally may get into the jar and mix with this.

Next, we will take out the jar when the water comes down to room temperature. Now, we will tilt the jar back and forth to check whether it is moving easily. If it does not crystallize, then it will not come out easily. If requires we may repeat the process to get a satisfactory result.

How can we use honey for weight loss?

We need to drink one glass of water with one teaspoon of it and one-fourth teaspoon of cinnamon, daily 30 minutes before breakfast. Also, read how to use it for weight loss in the above.

Honey for weight gain:

As it is rich in calories and sugar, therefore it may cause weight gain over time. We get nearly 64calories from a single tablespoon (21 grams).

Therefore, we see it gives us immense benefits. We come to know various aspects along with the health benefits of this wonderful item. We will use it cautiously. However, it can provide us with innumerous benefits.

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Banani Chakraborty

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