Nutrition Articles

The Buzz on Honey

The Good-for-You Sweetener

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After honey is collected from a beehive, there are a variety of ways it may be processed before it reaches store shelves:
  • Comb honey. This is honey packaged exactly the way it comes out of the bee hive, still in the bees’ wax comb, and completely unprocessed.
  • Raw honey. This honey has been filtered of its wax chunks and large particles but is not pasteurized (heated above 120 degrees Fahrenheit to extend shelf life). Because honey is naturally low in bacteria, pasteurization isn't necessary. Raw honey usually contains some residual pollen and small particles of wax.
  • Chunk honey. Similar to comb honey, this product consists of a few chunks of wax comb surrounded by liquid honey.
  • Strained or filtered honey. This honey is similar to raw honey, but has been filtered through a finer mesh material to remove all wax. It still may include pollen.
  • Ultra-filtered honey. This honey has undergone fine filtration under high pressure and heat (over 150 degrees Fahrenheit) to yield a very clear and longer lasting product.
There are also a variety of uses for honey. Obviously, it can be used as a sweetener. You can simply drizzle a little honey in your herbal teas, oatmeal, or on an English muffin. When you bake with it, you have to alter the recipe slightly by reducing the liquids by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey and reducing the cooking temperature by 25 degrees because honey is a liquid sweetener.

Besides being good for your insides, honey has a host of external uses too. Due to its extremely low moisture content, it is a natural antibacterial agent. You might also consider incorporating honey into your daily beauty regiment. The humectant (moisture-attracting) property of honey makes it useful as a hair or skin mask. However, if sitting around drenched in honey doesn’t appeal to you, check out the large selection of honey-based hair and beauty products in natural food stores everywhere. Individuals with sensitive skin will appreciate honey’s anti-irritant qualities too—it is so gentle that it is often used as an ingredient in products made for babies and anyone with sensitive skin.

Although honey is safe for just about everyone, individuals who have problems with maintaining proper blood sugar levels should restrict their consumption of honey. This includes people who have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), diabetes, and other sugar sensitivities. Another group who should abstain from honey is babies under one year of age, as they haven’t yet built up a resistance to the dormant bacteria that may be present in the honey. Some strict vegetarians also choose not to use honey because it is produced by bees.

Although it contains trace amounts of nutrients, honey is a carbohydrate-rich food that is approximately 80 percent sugar, so practice moderation when incorporating it into your diet. You'll please your palate and your body—now that's sweet!
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have a friend who was one of the "test subjects" for the UC Davis study! They had to drink that honey in a weird fruit punch every day. She said the fruit punch was nasty...but she lost four pounds during the honey part of the study. (They had to drink the same fruit punch sweetened with regular sugar during the other part of the study.) - 7/7/2014 11:40:58 AM
  • mmm...honey! Fresh from the farmer's market is the best :) - 5/20/2014 10:22:59 AM
  • I learned a lot. I love honey. :) - 1/6/2014 6:40:24 PM
  • CATHY65202
    The biggest difference between honey and refined sugar or artificial sweeteners is simple ... God made one and chemists made the others. Who you gonna trust? EVERYTHING in moderation and the more natural the better. - 5/20/2013 9:01:20 PM
  • I've always liked honey in my tea and thought it was a healthier choice but got information that it wasn't, now I'm hearing it is. They could have saved a lot of money on this research and just asked my mother.

    Now after reading this I want to go and watch The Secret Life of Bees. - 4/26/2013 8:08:11 PM
  • There used to be a company that had honey in a cardboard tub that was not highly processed but very delicious sadly I haven't seen it in years. I do like buckwheat honey but I confess I get tired of the taste after a while. - 4/6/2013 11:27:06 PM
  • Thanks for the reminder! - 3/3/2013 9:04:48 PM
  • I'm going to try honey instead of syrup - 3/3/2013 11:18:09 AM
  • I would like to see a little more information published on SparkPeople about Honey. Contrary to common thought, it is NOT processed just like sugar. Read about the fructose paradox if you need more information. Like with fruits and vegetables, the fructose and glucose from honey are absorbed simultaneously and play much less havoc with blood sugar levels. - 1/1/2013 9:57:57 AM
  • Interesting and informative. For years, when we took our son to college, we would stop at a roadside stand to purchase honey made by a woman in Guttenberg, Iowa. I still have some, and it needs to be heated to melt into useable form, but it is still as delicious as it was when it was fresh! - 6/18/2012 8:52:49 AM
  • HJBLAKESLEY
    Honey and cinnamon is a great throat/cough soother. - 2/24/2012 7:36:47 PM
  • It's great with hot water for a sore throat. - 2/24/2012 5:15:05 PM
  • One of my fav morning breakfasts in the summer is greek yogurt and raw honey. Mmmm love the stuff. - 2/24/2012 1:53:01 PM
  • As the study was funded by the National Honey Board, I'm a bit skeptical about the results. The micronutrients in honey are minute and make little nutritional difference, if any.

    Honey is tasty and versatile, but it's still, essentially, sugar. Your body will treat it that way. The caveats against people with sugar metabolism issues using honey are buried in the article. As with all things, a little from time to time is fine. - 2/24/2012 1:33:27 PM
  • APPROACHINGMARS
    I collect varietal honeys. It's amazing how different they all taste from each other, even though they're all just honey. The types I tend to stick to are forest, wildflower, and buckwheat. - 2/24/2012 11:37:46 AM

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