Why honey is good for you
Honey is a natural food that’s been part of our diet since time began. As everyone knows, honey is produced by bees using nectar from flowers. In the hive, this substance nourishes the larvae, which hatch into bees. A good hive can produce up to 15 kilos of honey a year. Normally harvested between April and November, honey has a consistency and taste that varies drastically depending on the flowers the nectar came from.
Nutritional value of honey
Honey is mostly sugar: it contains 75g of sugars per 100g. The rest is made up of water. It’s a great way to replace sugar in yoghurt or tea, as it contains fewer carbohydrates than sugar but has a similar taste. Apart from sugar, honey also contains B vitamins. Its composition and taste depends on the origin of the nectar.
Health benefits of honey
Honey is high in energy, at 300 kcal per 100g. It’s perfect for beating that mid-afternoon slump. Honey is a natural pick-me-up if you’re struggling with fatigue or if feeling low. It’s also widely used as a remedy for coughs and colds, especially to soothe a sore throat (this is why sore throat lozenges are often lemon and honey-flavoured). Honey has also been cited as a remedy for sleeping problems. A cup of hot water or milk with a spoonful of honey is a classic way to help you get to sleep. On a more frivolous note, honey is also thought to be an aphrodisiac...but it doesn’t have anything to do with the expression ‘honeymoon’!
Health supplements and natural remedies
Bees don’t just produce honey. As well as beeswax, which has many uses, they produce royal jelly and propolis.
As its name suggests, royal jelly is produced for future queen bees. When a hive loses its queen, a larva develops into a replacement queen and is fed on royal jelly. It is found only in tiny quantities – hence the price tag. Royal jelly is rich in protein (especially essential amino acids) and B vitamins.
Propolis is a substance collected by bees from certain types of buds on trees. It’s used to construct the hive and keeps microbes out. We eat it in gum and other forms. It can be beneficial as a remedy for respiratory infections.
At the moment there are concerns that the bee population is dwindling. This is almost certainly due to the toxic effects of two insecticides, Regent and Gaucho. These products were taken off the market in 2004 so that the dangers could be evaluated. Rest assured that honey is still perfectly safe to eat, so you can continue to enjoy it on your toast, porridge and yoghurt.