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Uses and Benefits of Honey

September 18th, 2009

honey-uses-benefits.jpgHoney has always had a strong culinary and symbolic place in the history of mankind. In ancient Rome, the father of the groom made a daily gift of a pot of honey to his son during the first thirty days after the wedding ceremony. Galen (129-199 AD) recommended a paste made of honey and the ground bodies of dead bees as a cure for baldness. Indeed, almost everything connected with bees has a useful function.

Honeycomb, when chewed, gives relief to sufferers of respiratory and nasal problems as well as those afflicted by hay fever. Bee pollen, which is a mixture of pollen taken from flowers, honey, and preservatives secreted by the bees themselves, is useful as a source of energy. It is also used in cases of anemia, weight loss, colitis, lack of appetite, depression, and constipation.

Royal jelly, a whitish paste that contains mineral salts, proteins, free amino acids, fats, sugars, and other compounds, is a food reserved for the queen bee. She has a lifespan of between five and six years while the rest of the bees only live for a few weeks. For this reason it is used as an energizer and general tonic. Both pollen and royal jelly, because of their potency, should only be used following consultations with a physician.

The making of honey begins with the worker bees who take the nectar from flowers. On their return flight to the hive the bees secrete gastric juices and enzymes which start the process of converting the sugars in the nectar to honey. In the hive, the water contained in the nectar mixture is partially evaporated by air currents produced by the beating of the bees’ wings. The final product is honey, which is composed of approximately 17 per cent water, 76 per cent sugar and seven percent of minerals such as iron, sodium, sulfur, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, copper, and trace elements of nitrogen, proteins, acids, and amino acids.

Because the sugars are predigested, honey does not appear in the urine of diabetics. For this reason it is a good substitute for sugar in their diets. Honey could also be used in several ways in cases of ill health. A gargle of water, honey, and alum quickly soothes a sore throat. Honey mixed with lime juice is a useful remedy against coughs.

In the kitchen, a quick French dressing could be made by mixing half a cup of olive oil, a quarter cup of vinegar, a teaspoonful of salt, and a quarter cup of honey. A nutritious breakfast could be made by mixing a quarter cup of oats soaked overnight in water or milk, one grated apple or sliced banana, one spoonful of honey, one teaspoonful of lime juice, half a cup of yogurt (or milk when using dried oats), and a spoonful of crushed nuts.

Honey thus has always been a boon to humanity, from well-meaning elders in Roman times to today’s health-conscious parents.

Related Article: Health Benefits of Honey


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