Equal parts sticky and sweet, honey is the ultimate all-natural sugar, but it’s so much more than a saccharine substance.
The syrupy liquid offers a rich mix of disease-busting and gut-friendly properties, making it a noteworthy addition to foods and drinks.
What Is Honey?
Honey is a sweet, thick liquid made by honeybees, as known as winged insects that are originally from Africa. The insects make honey by sucking up nectar (a sugary fluid produced by flowers), which is partially digested in their stomachs.
Subsequently, they regurgitate the nectar into honeycomb cells, where it’s dehydrated by their wings and mouths. The result is honey, which serves as food for the bees…and people.
There are more than 300 types of honey each of which is dictated by factors such as the geographical location of the flowers and bees, the time of year the bees collect nectar, and the flower source of said nectar. These features also affect the honey’s final taste and colour, which can range from light to dark brown.
Honey consists of 75 to 80 percent carbohydrates (ie sugar) and 15 to 20 percent water. It also contains folate and vitamin C, along with smaller amounts of niacin, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The antioxidants in honey specifically, flavonoids and polyphenols are the real star of the show. That’s because they’re responsible for many of the health benefits of honey.
Health Benefits of Honey
When it comes to nutrition and health benefits, honey isn’t exactly packed with good-for-you macro-and micronutrients. It’s also meant to be consumed in small amounts since it’s high in sugar. But unlike white table sugar, honey offers some notable antioxidants known to benefit the brain and body.
Besides, it’s also sweeter than table sugar, so you might be able to use less to satisfy your sweet tooth and, in turn, curb your sugar intake.
Staves Off Disease
Meanwhile, if you’re on a mission to bolster your body’s natural defences, reach for honey. It was noted that the sweet substance contains flavonoids and polyphenols both of which are potent antioxidants that neutralise free radicals and other toxins that could lead to cell and tissue damage.
This is noteworthy because oxidative stress can eventually contribute to chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
In addition, the flavonoids and polyphenols in honey also minimise inflammation. Like oxidative stress, chronic inflammation can lead to disease via long-term cell damage. Further, honey antioxidants can also suppress the cellular processes involved in inflammation, further warding off disease.
What’s more, honey offers vitamin C, a micronutrient with disease-fighting antioxidant properties. It can also stimulate the production and improve the function of white blood cells, which attack foreign bacteria and viruses, thereby protecting the body from infection.
Promotes Wound Healing
Furthermore, using honey to heal wounds, burns, and other topical conditions dates back to ancient Egypt while the world’s come a long way over the past 4,000+ years, honey has continued to prove its power as a topical treatment.
This is largely due to part of the substance’s antimicrobial properties, ability to maintain moisture, and high viscosity (which helps provide a protective barrier). In other words, honey prevents infection by creating a protective barrier and fighting any potential pathogens — all while keeping the area moist (and staving off dehydration by forming a veritable seal), which is shown to promote healing.
All that’s to say, you probably shouldn’t start smearing whatever honey is hiding in your cabinet onto your body if you, say, burn your hand while cooking. But if you do have a particularly bad burn, large wound, or the like, you should definitely consult your doc, who will help you determine the best course of treatment.
Supports Brain Health
Consuming foods high in antioxidants such as honey can help prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
As neurons regulate cognitive functions (eg memory, learning) by sending electrical impulses. Neural damage can hinder these processes, thereby promoting cognitive decline and conditions.
Moreover, the antioxidants in honey can activate cells called microglia, are responsible for protecting neurons and controlling inflammation in the brain. When activated by compounds such as the antioxidants in honey, microglia can protect the brain and also help keep neurodegenerative disease at bay.