Honey is often underestimated as a health food, which could be due to it’s sweetness. There is often a misconception that sweet means sugar, which means its bad for us. But honey can be an exception to the rule. In fact, there are many health benefits of honey.
Many of us are beginning to realise the benefits of natural remedies when dealing with minor illnesses such as coughs and colds. We are told time and again how antibiotics should be used carefully, and doctors are becoming increasingly wary of prescribing antibiotics. It is here where the health benefits of honey can prove useful.
The Health Benefits Of Honey – A Natural Antibiotic
Honey is known as a natural antibacterial, and has been used for hundreds of years to treat numerous conditions, including wounds. Manuka honey, a more expensive form of honey, is known to be particularly effective as an antibacterial.
However, recent research has begun to suggest that there may also be antibiotic properties within honey which could help in the search for new antibiotics as bacteria becomes more immune to our current medicines.
These two properties – antibiotic and antibacterial – make honey the perfect first step in treating minor illnesses at home. Many GPs are recommending that home treatments, such as honey and lemon, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon, all of which have been scientifically proven to have medicinal properties, be used before turning to your GP. In doing so, you could not only help improve your own symptoms without having to use antibiotic medicines, but you are also freeing up valuable appointment time for overloaded GP surgeries.
Honey and Hayfever
There is also some evidence to suggest that eating honey rich in pollen local to your area can help reduce the symptoms of hayfever. Although the scientific evidence for this is fairly weak, many people have found relief from hay fever symptoms by choosing locally produced honey. The theory is that by ingesting local pollen, the body is then able to acclimatise and adapt to that pollen.
Honey – The good and the bad
Not all types and brands of honey will prove equally effective when dealing with things like coughs, colds and sore throats. When out shopping in your local supermarket, you may find 20 or more types of honey to choose from: cheap own-brands, organic, expensive Manuka, honey made from various types of flowers or from different countries around the world.
If you are looking to use honey purely as a sweetener, then it doesn’t matter too much which one you choose. However, when considering the health benefits of honey, it is important that you think carefully about your choice.
Manuka honey is by far the most powerful antibacterial honey on the market, and this is reflected in its price. It is known to be the most effective in cases of coughs, colds, hay fever symptoms, sore throats, and in the treatment of burns and wounds.
Raw honey is also effective, as opposed to regular honey which will have been through a process of pasteurisation where it is heat-treated to kill any yeast which may be present. However, all honey, no matter how much or how little it is processed will still have some level of antibacterial action.
Honey as a Sweetener
Although honey has plenty of benefits as a medicine and health food, it’s important to remember that it is a form of sugar. Natural sugars like those found in honey and fruit are preferable to processed sugars as they contain other nutrients.
Current guidelines state that sugar intake should be limited to around 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day. When considering calories, choosing honey to sweeten your tea, for example, makes little difference: one teaspoon of sugar contains around 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey contains around 21 calories.
So although it is not necessarily recommended that you increase your honey intake on a daily basis, it could be a good alternative in cases of minor ailments before you decide to turn to a doctor for help.