Updated: Apr 4
Winnie the Pooh’s love for honey comes with no surprise, the sweet syrup is the perfect addition to any food to add sweetness and even a slight floral tone. If that were not enough, the health benefits of honey make it a truly spectacular gift that nature has given us. With traces of its use as early as 2400 BC, honey became a hot commodity in medieval Europe for its beer-sweetening ability. Furthermore, people quickly discovered that bees produced more honey than was necessary to maintain a hive, and therefore it could safely be extracted without disrupting the function of the hives.
Two types of honey are often seen in stores; light and dark honey. While they are generally the same, there are slight differences between the two. The colour varies based on the type of plant the bees took the nectar from. Darker honey is yielded from plants such as buckwheat while lighter honey may be yielded from plants such as acacia. In terms of taste, the lighter the honey, the more delicate and mild the taste. Darker honey tends to have a stronger flavour and can even be slightly bitter. Honey is known for its great versatility and substitutability for other sweeteners. From mixing in yogurt to treating coughs, it can offer many health benefits when eaten in moderation.
To the knowledge of few, honey actually has antibacterial properties and is also an effective cough suppressant. The natural acidity of honey along with the hydrogen peroxide deposits that bees leave result in a liquid that is effective for fighting against strains such as E. coli and salmonella. As well, honey is scientifically proven to be a treatment for ulcers, bed sores, burns, skin sores, and inflammation. The liquid can even be used to heal wounds that don’t respond to antibiotics!
In terms of suppressing coughs, honey actually does a better job than both dextromethorphan and Benadryl. This is particularly useful for parents with young children, as over-the-counter medications are highly discouraged for youth. It is important to note, though, that honey should never be given to children below the age of 1. Honey contains toxic bacteria that may result in infant botulism, which is a severe form of food poisoning that can result in death. If consumed by children above the recommended age of 2 years old, honey can be used as a great remedy for respiratory tract infections and to relieve some symptoms more effectively than medications and antibiotics.
Honey is also rich in antioxidants, which help to prevent inflammation. Darker honey is particularly rich in these antioxidants, which can prevent a plethora of health issues such as heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Furthermore, honey is shown to enhance antioxidant activity within the body, which amplifies the effect of other antioxidant sources.
Honey is known for its effectiveness as a substitute for artificial sweeteners. The natural syrup eliminates the need for unhealthy sugars without detracting from the flavours in foods. Though honey raises blood sugar levels as with any other type of sugar, the antioxidant contents help to protect against metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Honey also helps to increase levels of adiponectin in the body, a hormone that improves blood sugar regulation. These indirect benefits make honey a perfect healthier sweetener substitute.
For athletes, honey has countless benefits. The combination of both glucose and fructose allows for the carbohydrates to be absorbed at different speeds. These carbohydrates are a source of fuel for the body during physical activity, and are absorbed at different speeds meaning the athlete can experience the effects immediately but also for a prolonged duration. Furthermore, honey is easy to digest due to its liquid form making it a perfect pair for any snack to quickly replenish energy within the body. Without a doubt, honey has numerous benefits all packed into one delicious syrup. While remaining inexpensive, it is useful for all sorts of people with varying needs.