HONEY AND YOUR HEALTH

Maintaining optimal blood sugar levels has a positive effect on overall health, and honey may help to contribute to this goal. Ancient Olympics competitors used honey to enhance performance and help maintain energy levels and promote muscle strength recovery.

In one recent study of thirty-nine male and female athletes, following a workout the participants ate a protein supplement blended with a sweetener. Those who ate the supplement sweetened with honey, as opposed to sugar or maltodextrin, enjoyed the best results. They maintained optimal blood sugar levels for two hours following the workout and had better muscle recuperation.

There are more than three hundred kinds of honey in the United States, such as clover, buckwheat, and orange blossom. Light-colored honeys are generally mildly flavored, while dark honeys are more robust.

We know that daily consumption of honey raises blood levels of protective antioxidants. In one study, participants were given about four tablespoons daily of buckwheat honey while eating their regular diets for twenty-nine days. A direct link was found between the subjects’ honey consumption and the levels of protective polyphenolic antioxidants in their blood. In another study, twenty-five healthy men drank plain water or water with buckwheat honey. Those consuming the honey-water enjoyed a 7 percent increase in their antioxidant capacity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the average U.S. citizen consumes about 68 kilograms of sweetener annually. Substituting honey for at least part of this amount would make an impressive contribution to our overall antioxidant status and would no doubt be a significant health promoter.

Note: Never give honey to children younger than a year old. About 10 percent of honey contains dormant Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause botulism in infants.

Honey has been used for centuries as a topical antiseptic for treating burns, ulcers, and wounds. A study in India compared the effectiveness of honey with a conventional wound-healing treatment, silver sulfadiazine. In the honey-dressed wounds, early subsidence of acute inflammatory changes, better control of infection, and quicker wound healing were observed. Some researchers attribute this effect to nutrients in honey that promote skin growth and antibacterial substances present in honey. While we don’t recommending using honey topically, its power in this role is further evidence of its wide range of health benefits.

Oligosaccharides in honey increase the numbers of ‘good’ bacteria in the colon, reduce levels of toxic metabolites in the intestine, help prevent constipation, and help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Feeling under the weather? Throat sore and scratchy? Try sipping some hot green tea with a spoonful of honey and a dash of red pepper (cayenne). The potent mix of these SuperFoods (tea and honey) along with red pepper can soothe that inflamed throat. Researchers think that in neutralizing substance P – a neuropeptide that carries pain signals to the brain, red pepper can help you swallow more comfortably.

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