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HONEY- Benefits & 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR....

I recently incorporated honey as the sweetening agent in my daily beverages, adding a spoon of honey to my twice daily cup of 'chai' (tea) and that occasional cup of coffee. In fact, not just in my beverages, but also in yogurt, which is something I best enjoyed with sugar. I'm even guilty of trying to sneak in honey in lieu of syrup on my kids' pancakes and waffles (didn't quite get away with it, but hey, a mom has got to try, right?) Making these substitutions gave me lot of satisfaction. Especially since my Cholesterol has been a little on the higher side and cutting down on sugar has been on my mind. But does replacing sugar with honey really is beneficial to health? We asked Rupal Mohan, M.D., who is a family practitioner in Phoenix, AZ. "The health benefits of honey remain largely unproven. And even though I am not a big advocate of using honey for colds, wound or anti inflammatory effect, there are nutritionists and alternative health specialists who strongly believe that honey is the only sweet with any substantial health benefits", says Rupal Mohan. Turns out, she's right. We found an article, 'Honey's Unknown Benefits' on Dr. Oz's website, written by Lindsey Duncan, a celebrity nutritionist. According to the article, simply put, honey, which naturally contains 18 amino acids and small amounts of a many vitamins and minerals, has the following benefits-

1. Helps with athletic performance: 

Glucose found in honey can provide a energy boost to athletes.

2. Helps with better sleep and relaxation: 

The natural sugar found in honey raises our insulin slightly and allows tryptophan, the compound famous for making us sleepy, to enter our brains more easily. Next time you experience difficulty in sleeping, try taking a spoonful of honey before going to bed.

3. Helps with allergies: 

As bees carry the pollen some of that pollen becomes part of the honey. Consuming honey daily two months before the allergy season can immunize your body against it.

4. Helps with skin care: 

Honey absorbs and retains water. Moisturizing benefits of honey makes it a fairly common ingredient in shampoos, soaps and cosmetics.  Use it at home as a facial with milk, as an exfoliate with oats and as a hair conditioner with olive oil.


 

Although the article also promotes honey on wounds to prevent bacteria and dirt from entering it and also for its anti-bacterial effects, doctor Mohan advises against it. "Stick to antiseptic creams that are easily available", she says. Also, be sure to not give honey to infants under one year old since their immune system is not developed enough to fight infection against bacteria that might have made its way into honey, she adds.

Obviously the next question is, so what kind of honey to buy and where from? Since bees make honey from the nectar of flowers and store it in honeycombs, the honey you buy, must be labeled as only "honey". FDA (U.S. Food And Drug Administration) guidelines recommends that the product be named simply 'honey' or the name may also include the source of the honey, such as “Clover Honey” or 'Orange Blossom Honey' on the label. Because honey is a single ingredient food, you might not find an ingredient statement on the label or the 'ingredients' will simply state honey. Avoid product that contains honey and a sweetener, such as sugar or corn syrup. FDA requires such a product to not be named simply 'honey'. As per FDA, a blend of honey and a sweetener would have a name such as “blend of honey and sugar” (likewise, “blend of honey and corn syrup”) and an ingredient statement that lists each ingredient, such as “honey” and “sugar” (likewise, “honey” and “corn syrup”). Similarly, a properly labeled package of honey with natural raspberry flavor would have a name such as “raspberry flavored honey” and an ingredient statement that lists each ingredient, such as “honey” and “natural flavor.” In short, go for 'Honey' or 'Clover Honey' that is 'True Source Certified' (picture above shows honey from Costco that we use in our household).

What do you say? Would you want to give honey a try?

(by Sonal Kulshrestha)

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