Many of us have a sweet tooth and love sweet, unique flavours, so it is important to find a natural sweetener that is not only delicious but can also provide significant benefits to our health.
One of the earliest uses for honey was for wound and burn healing, with the soothing viscous liquid being used to aid healing for infected burns, wounds and skin conditions.
To this day, honey dressings have been used to treat ulcers in people suffering from diabetes, where infection can in some cases lead to amputation of an infected limb.
Part of the reason it is so effective at this is the natural processes that help to create it. Honey is formed by bees collecting honeydew and nectar as a food source before returning it to a hive, which creates the crystalised honeycomb that forms the bases of their hives.
Because of this natural source, honey is rich in antioxidant compounds, such as flavonoids and other phenolic compounds which help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by neutralising the effects of free radicals in the body.
This protects the body, especially the heart, from oxidative stress, the sign of ageing that can cause cell damage and is a risk factor in strokes and heart disease.
As well as this, studies have found that honey has a role in preventing blood clots by helping the arteries to dilate.
These same antioxidant compounds have been connected to anti-inflammatory effects and to lower blood pressure, one of the main risk factors for heart disease.
Studies on honey itself have shown that people who eat it have a reduction in blood pressure and thus a lower risk of heart disease.
Along with this, other risk factors, such as triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (aka “bad”) cholesterol were noticeably reduced when people ate honey, compared to refined sugars such as those you would have on a kitchen table.
It should be noted that there are many different kinds of honey because its exact makeup depends on the nectar that is used to make it, which affects slightly the types of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are in it.
Most honey you can buy is a blend, either mixed by a manufacturer or in the form of polyfloral honey in which nectar from different kinds of flowers is used by the bees themselves to create the hive.
There is also honeydew, a stronger, less sweet version of honey made from tree sap. Honeydew honey has very different health benefits, and a much higher antioxidant value compared to floral honey.
Honeydew honey can typically be spotted by its much darker hue compared to standard floral honey, and if you enjoy the stronger flavour it has, it contains a wealth of health benefits, minerals, antioxidants and prebiotic benefits that are not as abundant as in floral honey.