I like my life sweet, but I steer clear of sugars (as most sweeteners are more destructive than beneficial, and generally devoid of nutrients). I often opt for my favorite calorie free sweetener—Vanilla NuStevia. That being said, one of my favorite natural, and healthy sweeteners is raw, unprocessed honey.
Raw, unprocessed honey has been considered for its medicinal purposes for centuries. However, it is more commonplace to come across cute little jars of squeezable honey bears, holding a pasteurized, liquidy, golden substance, than it is to find the real stuff. Honey bears generally hold a honey that has been heated, and refined, making it easier to use, but robbing it of its nutritional value.
While these mainstream honeys may be a “healthier” substitute for soda gulping individuals (ahem, my mom), they are a far cry from a health food, and are the equivalent of consuming other, less healthful sugars, as far as the body is concerned.
Raw honey, on the other hand, is quite a different story.
Although raw honey’s slew of claimed benefits can be controversial, depending on brand, and whom you speak to, raw honey is certainly no phony when it comes to being delicious, and relatively speaking— nutritious.
Used in moderation, the body needs natural sugars. Whether this comes from fruits, or sweeter vegetables like carrots and beets, glucose (fructose is converted to glucose) is the main source of sugar required by the tissue and cells for energy. In order to be beneficial, fructose and glucose must be unrefined, unprocessed, and to be the most beneficial— raw. When you see glucose, or fructose, high fructose corn syrup, etc., listed as an ingredient on a food label, know that it is not the type of “healthy” sugar the body needs for energy.
An apple, for instance, does not contain an ingredient label, but it does contain raw, natural sugar in the form of fructose. A candy, or protein bar, however, may list fructose, but it is not raw, or unprocessed. My point being: the real unprocessed stuff need not be labeled.
Another way to tell if a sugar can be considered “healthy,” or not, is to know how it was processed, and or treated, before making its way into your grocery basket. Although cute little honey-containing bears, will not generally be labeled as containing anything more than honey, itself, unless the jar specifies that the honey is RAW, is has been heated, and refined.
Why do we care? If we want to receive any of the benefits of honey, we need to consume it raw.
So what are some of the benefits of consuming raw honey?
As I mentioned earlier, there are many people who praise raw honey as a magical super food, with great healing properties. I do not consider honey, raw or not, to be magical. I do believe that raw honey can contain some of the B vitamins, in addition to vitamins C, D, and E, as well as trace minerals, that make it stand apart from other sweeteners, which are completely devoid of nutrients.
Raw honey can be wonderful for digestive problems. Its lubricating effect can stimulate the intestines, helping waste to move through the colon. It is for this reason that some may experience a laxative effect when consuming raw honey.
- Try adding a tablespoon of raw honey to a glass of hot water, and freshly squeezed lemon, in the morning, or sipping it prior to eating a meal. Raw honey will not have the same digestive benefits when it is consumed with, or on other foods.
- Raw honey, and freshly squeezed lemon can also be a nice “energy” drink, prior to a morning workout.
Additionally, honey can generally be considered a sterile food. Which means that it is not a host for bacteria*. However, the quality and nutritional content of any honey is completely dependent on the quality and type of plants the bees visit. It would not be unrealistic to find unwanted particles in some unheated, raw honeys, as bees will often pick up other particles when pollinating plants, aside from the pollen itself. It is for this reason that it is important to choose a raw honey from a trusted company. I like Really Raw Honey.
*Although not a host for bacteria, unpasteurized honey contains yeast spores which are not to be consumed by those suffering from Candida related illnesses. A person with Candida should not consume sugars, period (so this would include pasteurized honey as well).
A spoonful of raw honey can also be a natural cough suppressant and a more healthful aid in lubricating a scratchy throat, than other over the counter medications.
Some have also found that raw, and local honey has helped relieve certain seasonal allergies. However, I would advise individuals that are allergic to bees to avoid honey, to be safe, and children under the age of one should not consume honey.
Honey can also be a healthful, and sweet treat. A personal favorite cleansing snack, of mine, is a bit of raw honey, spread onto a few pieces of fennel bulb.
I suggest only consuming honey on an empty stomach to receive any of the claimed benefits of raw honey. You may be interested in checking out these other articles concerning raw honey! I can’t say that I agree with them in their entirety, but it will sum up what I mean when I say that raw honey’s many “claimed benefits can be controversial.”
How do you use raw honey? What are your favorite honey recipes? Have you found raw honey to have any health benefits?