Monday, December 17, 2012
Good Eats: Don’t ignore the buzz about honey – nature’s sweetener is good and good for you
Last week I wrote about sugar, sweets and some of the negative effects (see here). This week, let’s look at a positive – and my very favorite – sweetener!
I grew up on a farm in rural Casey County, Ky., where my grandfather raised bees. It was a huge treat when it came time to go get the honey. He would use an electric knife to shave the combs off their frames, and my cousin and I would eagerly await his handing us the first chunk of warm honeycomb drenched with gooey goodness … one of my best childhood memories.
Most of my life honey was just a yummy sweet treat – and one I took for granted. In recent years, I had quit using it because of the high sugar and calorie content. But I’ve recently been exposed to some fascinating truths that make honey the ONLY sweetener I’ll use.
Don’t misunderstand, honey is still a simple sugar, so if you have sugar sensitivities or are diabetic, you still have to be careful. However, honey is natural and has a much different molecular structure than simple processed sugars, so it affects the body differently.
Throughout history, honey has been used as a sweetener, but also as medicine. In medieval times, it was slathered on wounds as an antibiotic treatment. But more recently, the buzz has been about its benefit in treating allergies. While no comprehensive scientific studies have been done on the topic, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence showing that adding raw local honey to your diet can greatly reduce and, in some cases eliminate, your misery.
How does it work? A lot like a vaccine, actually. When all the trees and flowers start to bloom and the grass turns green, you start sniffling, wheezing, sneezing, watering … right? This is because of the pollen in the air – which your body sees as an invader and wants to fight. However, through locally produced honey,* you get these same pollens and your body becomes immune to them, no longer sensing an enemy combatant but a normal part of life.
Other uses of honey are to detoxify the body, speed up the metabolism and reduce inflammation in the body. Also, it has as many or more antioxidants than blueberries.
Honey is not just tasty – it is GOOD for you and doesn’t have any of the damaging effects of other sweeteners. Give it a try!
* Store-bought pasteurized honey won’t have the same effects – you have to get honey produced close to where you live!
You might also be interested in reading Honoring the example set by grandmother, author looks at ‘beeconomy’ in new book.
Rachel Crabtree was born in Ohio but moved with her family to rural Casey County in Kentucky at the age of 7. She was raised on a farm full of chickens, goats and organic gardens. Rachel is a 1997 graduate of the University of Kentucky and worked as a stockbroker for several years before moving to a career in her true area of passion: fitness and health. She currently owns Well Fed! in Lexington, which provides healthy, nutritionally balanced, portion-controlled, fresh, organic/local foods for individuals and families.