Honey, one of the oldest sweeteners, comes from flower nectar that has been consumed by the honey bee (Apis mellifera), which was originally found in Europe. (The Entomological Society of America uses two words, “honey bee,” and the British use one word, “honeybee.”) Known as “nectar of the gods,” as far back as 5,000 years ago it was used for medicinal purposes, in cooking and as a preservative, as a medicinal agent, in cosmetics, and in soaps, and even the beeswax has been used for candles.
Honey is praised for its healthy sweetener virtues: It has no fat, no cholesterol, and no sodium.
Medical researchers around the world continue to find new health-promoting nutrients in honeys. Most important, like red wine, green tea, and certain fruits and vegetables, honey contains antioxidants—disease-fighting enzymes that protect your body by trapping free-radical molecules. (Imagine video game–like bright yellow Pac-Man heads, with mouths that open and close like a shark, chasing big bad bugs and gobbling them up before any damage occurs to a human body.)
Research also shows that eating antioxidant-rich superfoods(food that has super health benefits)—like honey—may lower the risk of developing diseases and even stall the aging process. Researchers continue to find new health-promoting nutrients in certain superfoods, and here are some of the super ones in honey that you should know about:
- Alpha-tocopherol: an essential antioxidant, known as vitamin E.
- Enzymes: chemical substances your body produces to help boast chemical reactions in your body.
- Flavanols and Flavonols: a group of plant compounds (from flavonoids, a large group of phytonutrients) found in honey that have shown antioxidant effects that may help lower the risk of developing heart disease, some forms of cancer, and diabetes. Both flavanols and flavonols can be found in honey.
- Oligosaccharides: aids to heart health, by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and regularity, by boosting good bacteria in the colon.
- Salicylates: naturally produced acid that acts as a protective compound against stress and disease.
- Peptides: molecules made up of two or more linked amino acids that may help lower risk of heart disease, too, as well as enhance the immune system and digestion.
Up next are 3 healthy recipes infused with honey, that you can include in your everyday diet:
Breakfast: Firefighter’s Honey Muesli
1 teaspoon honey
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup skim milk or low-fat vanilla soy milk
1 ounce mixture of almonds, walnuts and pistachios
handful of mixed dried fruit
Lunch/Dinder: Ted’s Savannah Bee Grill Honey Salmon
1 pound fresh salmon filet
2 tablespoons White wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Savannah Bee Company Grill Honey
Salt, Black pepper, Fresh rosemary
Preheat grill to 350ºF. Prepare grilling planks according to directions on package. Make slits in salmon (along the grain) every 1 to 2 inches.
Pour vinegar and lemon juice over salmon filet, turning to coat both sides.
Mix olive oil, mustard, and Savannah Bee Company Grill Honey in a small pan over low heat, blending mixture into an emulsion. Pour half of
the mixture over fish, turning to coat.
Strip the leaves of the rosemary and roughly chop to release the oils. Gently push rosemary into the slits on the filet.
Heat the plank on the grill for 5 minutes and turn the warm side up. Place fish skin side down on the plank. Pour remaining mixture over the
top and close grill. When salmon reaches an internal temperature of 135–145º (about 15 minutes), drizzle Savannah Bee Company Grill Honey liberally over the top and turn up the heat to 450º. After 1–2 minutes pull salmon out and let stand for 5 minutes under foil tent before serving.
(Courtesy: Savannah Bee Company.)
Dessert: Honey & Yogurt Fruit Salad
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
Handful of chopped walnuts
2 large seedless oranges, peeled, sliced, and halved
4-6 Watermelon wedges
1 apple, cored and chopped
1 ripe pear, cored and sliced into wedges
1 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, honey and walnuts. Stir well to blend ingredients.
Arrange fruit on plates and drizzle the honey-yogurt dressing on top.