Honey is a blend of water and sugar. It also contains small amounts of other ingredients including vitamins, minerals and acids. Honey is made by bees primarily for its use during the long winters (Chepulis 27-28). According to Alvarez-Suarez et al. (15-23), Honey is produced by honeybees from exudates of trees and plants (honeydews) or the nectar of blossoms (nectar honey). The average consumption of honey per person ranges between 0.0-1.3 grams.
Properties of Honey
Honey is composed of many properties. The main component of honey is sugar (fructose and glucose) which account for around 85-95% of the total carbohydrate in the honey. Other sugars also occur, but in small quantities. These include sucrose and complex sugars such as oligosaccharides and disaccharides. The minor components include amino acids, vitamins, and enzymes. The primary enzymes are amylase and invertase. In some kinds of honey, catalase and acid phosphatase are also present. Choline and acetylcholine may also be found in some varieties of honey. Honey also contains antiseptic and antibacterial properties (Chepulis 33-35).
Uses of Honey
Honey is attributed to extensive uses. It is used for medicinal purposes. The medicinal use of honey dates back to 1250 BC and have been utilized in the course of history as evidenced in Sumerian clay tablets (Chepulis 28). Ancients Egyptians made ointment and salves with honey for treating skin and eyes’ diseases. The Papyrus Ebers manuscript dating back to 1550 proves that honey was used for ulcers, inflammation of the eyes and dressing of burns. Ancient Greeks also used honey to avert fatigue such as in the case of athletes (Chepulis 30-31). Due to its soothing effect when at first smeared over to open wounds, it has been used in dressing burns and wounds (Alvarez-Suarez et al. 15-23). Honey is also used in cooking and baking. Also, honey is used as a preservative of food items such as meat.
Health Benefits of Honey
Honey is associated with numerous health benefits. Choline and acetylcholine, properties of the honey, are useful for brain disorder and also help minimize the cognitive decline in older age (Chepulis 33-35). Honey enters the lung and moistens them. This helps in treating cough associated with lung dryness. This moistening characteristic also aids in deep-source nasal congestion and prevents constipation by moistening the intestine channels (Altman 60). Honey, specifically the buck wheat variety is used for prophylaxis and treatment of blood vessels after radiotherapy and people suffering from radiation sickness (204). Honey also aids in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and helps in strengthening the heart muscle (208). Honey helps in destroying microbes by osmotic force due to its antibacterial properties. (Ellis)
Types of Honey
There are thousands of types of honey in the world. The flavor and color of honey vary with the source of the nectar used by the honeybees. The color, texture, taste and aromas are different among the types of honey. For instance, the colors range from nearly colorless to dark brown. Examples of honey types include acacia, alfalfa, avocado, blackberry, blueberry, blue borage, buck thorn, buck wheat, chestnut, clover, kamahi, lehua, linden, long’an, macadamia nut, manuka, may, mesquite, motherwort, mountain, and orange blossom. Acacia honey has a pleasant fragrance and mild taste. It does not crystallize easily and is produced by many countries such as US and Russia. Alfafa honey is produced in Canada and is mostly used for cooking and baking. Blueberry honey is light amber in color and contains a well-rounded flavor. Buckwheat honey is dark and full-bodied. It is considered the best medicinal honey due to its antioxidant compounds. Lehua honey is rare, water-white and crystallizes quickly. Macadamia Nut Honey is sweet and flowery and is regularly used in oatmeal and pancakes. (Altman 201-208).
Altman, Nathaniel. The Honey Prescription. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press, 2010. Print.
Alvarez-Suarez, Jose Miguel et al. “Contribution Of Honey In Nutrition And Human Health: A Review”. Mediterr J Nutr Metab 3.1 (2009): 15-23. Web.
Chepulis, Lynne. Healing Honey. Boca Raton, Fla.: BrownWalker Press, 2008. Print.
Ellis, Hattie. Spoonfuls Of Honey. Print.