We have all head about the benefits of honey in its own right, but also as a natural substitute for sugar. But can you believe everything you read or hear? When it comes down to it, honey is still a high-calorie food – there are about 61 calories in a tablespoon of honey.
Is it really all that good for you?
There have been lots of studies on the benefits of honey. It is known to contain antioxidants reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes. Honey also reduces bad cholesterols and increases the good ones.
You probably have heard that honey can help calm a cough too.
But even with the associated benefits, it is still almost pure natural sugar like glucose and fructose – that’s why sites like https://diethive.com and most others encourage moderation.
Not all honey is created equal
You have probably noticed that some honey is thick and opaque while some others are runny and transparent. If you’ve ever been to a store to buy it, you will have seen that some are comparatively expensive, while other honey is less expensive.
The difference is how it is produced.
Raw or Processed
Honey comes from the honeycombs made by bees. When it comes out of the hive, it is not the pure golden liquid we think of when we think of honey. It will have bees in it and there will probably also be some wax content too.
For beekeepers that produce raw honey, straining the unwholesome or unattractive parts out and bottling it is all that’s needed. It is as simple as that. The impurities are removed – even so you may still see some that sneaked through the process – and next thing it ends up on your toast.
Processed honey, as the name suggests, has been put through some sort of process which might or might not include pasteurization. This is simply treating it at a high temperature to extend its shelf life and help prevent it from becoming thick or crystallized.
But this very process also has the effect of removing all the real goodness.
What to look for when buying honey
The first thing to check is the list of ingredients. There should be only one and it is, you guessed it, honey and only honey. There should be nothing else, definitely no high-fructose corn syrup or other added syrups.
Believe it or not, some makers put rice or corn syrup into honey.
The next thing to understand is the source. If you get it at a farmer's market it will have been filtered and bottled and, if you ask nicely, the vendor will probably be more than happy to talk about where the honey came from. Supermarket honey – well not so much. Rarely will you know where it came from.
The answer is pollen
This is the substance that gets onto bees’ legs when they land on a flower or a plant. Raw honey contains pollen. 100% of the time raw honey will contain pollen and no, you will never taste it.
The presence of pollen means that it hasn’t been heated and has been handled as little as possible – which is precisely what you’re looking for.
Organic or not organic?
This is an interesting question. There are two ways of looking at this: how does the beekeeper look after the hive, and are the bees cared for without the use of unnatural substances. Again, knowing the source is the only way to be sure.
But when it comes to the honey itself, you can almost guarantee it is not organic.
The average bee will travel up to two miles on a pollen trip and unless you can be certain that every plant in a two-mile radius is an organic one, there is no way the honey itself can be certified as organic. The same goes for GMO (genetically modified) too.
Bees get around and the beekeeper can't possibly know where each one gets to.
Raw honey and price
The average bee, going about his bee business (and he is a he, by the way), will make about 1/12th of a teaspoon in his entire life. It takes about 12 bees, that live on average about 6 weeks, to make a teaspoon of honey.
One bee colony produces about 60 to 100 pounds of honey a year and, depending on the weather, they need somewhere between 20-25% of that to feed on during the winter.
Given the relative scarcity of the product, it makes sense that high-quality honey is going to cost a little more. This is one of those cases where you go ahead and buy the best quality you can afford and then you might be a little bit mean and keep it all to yourself or at least share with people who know the difference.
Honey is not the most important thing about bees
It is great that bees go to all the trouble they do and the by-product is something we find so delicious. But making honey isn’t all bees do for us.
Bees are this world’s natural pollinators. Crops like potatoes and tomatoes are pollinated by bees collecting pollen by accident and spreading it to the next flower.
The world would be a different place without them.