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The Buzz about Liquid Gold: 4 Health Benefits of Honey

By: Aizya Ali, RDN, LD

Amber viscosity that engulfs warm buttermilk biscuits, chilled herbal tea, and juicy berries with sweetness.  The allure stems from ancient Egypt, where it was cherished for its culinary and medicinal properties. The ultimate Queen Bee, Cleopatra, was said to have bathed with this syrupy substance for supple skin. This golden nectar is the bee's knees!  We are celebrating honey’s buzz-illion benefits. Keep reading for four that are positively un-bee-lievable!

1. An Abundance of Antioxidants

Honey is rich in naturally occurring antioxidants including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Phenolic Acids
  • Flavonoids

Antioxidants help to protect the body and healthy cells from free radicals, which can increase the risk of chronic disease. Did you know that the color of honey may be indicative of the antioxidant activity strength? Current research demonstrates that darker colored honey is associated with higher phenolic acid content. The color is a result of a higher concentration of beneficial compounds like carotenoids, that provide more pigment. All honey varieties will hive nutritional density, but consider incorporating the following dark honey varieties:

  • Buckwheat
    • Flavor Profile: nutty and deep. molasses, malt, and toffee notes.
    • Pairs well with goat or feta cheese
  • Wildflower
    • Flavor Profile: floral and sweet.
    • Pairs well with fruits and yogurt
  • Manuka
    • Flavor Profile: mild sweetness with slight bitterness. caramel notes.
    • Pairs well with oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles

2. Banish Bee-hydration

Did you know honey can be used to hydrate? Yes, that's right…we're not pollen your leg! Dehydration from decreased fluid intake or increased fluid output can cause electrolyte imbalances. Dehydration symptoms include confusion, dizziness, or cramps. Research reports that honey can be used in place of glucose in oral rehydration solutions (ORS). In a research study, an ORS made with honey was successfully used to reduce vomiting and diarrhea in young children with gastroenteritis. Honey is thought to increase the absorption of potassium and water for quicker recovery. Here's a simple recipe:

  • 1 quart drinking or boiled water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Stir ingredients together until salt, baking soda, and honey are dissolved.

3. Pump Up the Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the food source for probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria in your gut. Maintaining balanced gut bacteria is imperative for digestive health. Honey contains prebiotics in the form of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). FOS also naturally occur in other plant foods like asparagus, onion, and garlic. Research demonstrates honey's ability to reduce infection-causing bacteria and increase gut healing bacteria. Want a more buzzworthy combination? Consider combining honey as your prebiotic with probiotic-rich foods:

  • Stir honey into creamy yogurt.
  • Add honey and cultured buttermilk into pancake batter.
  • Drizzle warmed honey over cheddar, mozzarella, or gouda and crackers.

4. Workout Wins

Consuming a pre-workout snack of carbohydrates and protein before physical activity, lasting longer than 60 minutes, can improve energy levels and recovery. Carbohydrates are your body's preferred energy source, and protein can increase muscle growth. If you are doing aerobic exercise, like:

  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Jump Rope

You will want to focus on a snack that is primarily carbohydrates for optimal energy.

Current research demonstrates that, because honey is a low glycemic index food, it releases glucose at a slower rate. This would limit blood sugar spikes and provide longer-lasting energy throughout the workout.

So, did we swarm your heart for honey? Not to be a buzzkill, but we have one more point!

Open Hand, the nonprofit organization of Good Measure Meals, is partnered with Bee Downtown. Bee Downtown is responsible for installing beehives and providing employee programming on corporate campuses across the southeastern United States. Most recently, our favorite bees-ness donated 150 bottles of honey to our Market Basket recipients. Learn more about Bee Downtown here.

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