Honey

Benefits of honey

HoneyHoney is used all over the world for different purposes. It does not only have high nutritional value but has also been of high medicinal value for centuries. The golden liquid product comes from bees and the product is often used in the kitchen. The antibacterial and antifungal properties make it a product which has been used since the early days of the Egyptian tombs.

History

The collection of honey has been an activity which has started over 8,000 years ago. Different historic paintings show humans hunting for honey carrying gourds and baskets, and using ropes to reach the nest of the bees. The oldest remains of honey were found in Georgia. Archaeologists found honey in Georgia which dates back to 5,500 years ago. In Georgia, different types of honey were found. The various sorts of honey were added to the grave once someone was buried. It was believed that a person would take the honey with on their journey to the afterlife. In Egypt, honey was used as a sweetener for biscuits and cakes. Moreover, in Egypt as well as the rest of the Middle East honey was also used for embalming the dead. Also, in both Roman and Greek culture honey was also used as a sweetener. When there would be no more sugar, honey provided as an integral sweetening ingredient. Honey became such an important product during Roman times that it was even mentioned by authors. Famous authors such as Cicero, Virgil and Pliny mention the product in their work. Honey was also used in Central America by the Maya. The Maya considered the bee to be sacred and they used honey from the stingless bee for different purposes. The main purpose of honey was for it to be used as a culinary product. It continues to be used by the Maya as a sweetener for various meals.

Description

As mentioned, honey is mostly used as a sweetener for different dishes. The type of honey which is most commonly used is the honey coming from honey bees. This type of honey is collected by beekeepers and is also the type which is sold most often. Honey bees, however, are not the only type of bees which produce honey. The stingless bees, bumble bees and honey wasps also produce honey. Nevertheless, the quantity is different compared to the honey produced by honey bees. Also, the honey from these bees also has different properties compared to the one produced by honey bees. Bees produce honey by converting nectar into honey. This process is called regurgitation. The production of honey will be outlined in the next paragraph. Honey has its sweet taste due to glucose, fructose and mono-saccharides. Due to its sweet taste, many people are not able to distinguish the difference between honey and sugar. While honey can be eaten by anyone, it is not recommended for people who have a weakened immune system. This is due to the fact that there is a risk of a fungal infection. Honey is considered to be safe product. Nevertheless, it could have adverse effects when it is combines with drugs or certain disease conditions.

Production

As indicated, honey is produced by bees. They collect nectar which serves the purpose of supporting the metabolism and for long-term food storage. During cold weather, food sources are scarce. This means that larval and adult bees use stored honey as food. People have been able to domesticate insects and harvest excess honey. They can do this by contriving bee swarms to nest in hives which are artificial. In a bee nest there are three different types of bees present. The single female queen bee is always present in the nest. Also, there are also a number of male drone bees present which fertilize the new queens. Then there are about 40,000 female working bees present producing the honey. The female bees hydrolyze sucrose to a mixture of fructose and glucose. The bees work together for an average of about 20 minutes to reach a point where the quality of honey is good enough. Once the honey is removed from the hive by a beekeeper it can last for a long time. Also it is important for the honey to be sealed properly in order for it not to ferment. There are also a few wasp species which produce honey. They are found in Central and South America. These taste of this honey is different compared to the honey produced by honey bees.



Health benefits

Honey is known for having different health benefits. Different researches have shown that the honey contains compounds which have wound healing properties. Some of these compounds are methylglyoxal and hydrogen peroxide. Moreover, there is also some evidence which shows that honey helps healing skin wounds after mild burns or after surgery. The evidence on this topic is, however, not strong enough to draw conclusions. This implies in order for honey to be used for healing wounds, it is important that more research is done on the topic in order for firm conclusions to be drawn on this topic. Another topic on which research is currently being done is the link between honey and the antimicrobial resistance to modern antibiotics. Also, a lot of research has been conducted on honey and its use against coughs. Different research institutes have recommended to give children honey instead of pharmaceutical medication to treat a cough or a cold. Honey is usually recommended in combination with lemon. Honey is also recommended when you have a sore throat. However, a couple of years back it was concluded that honey should not be given to newborns. The research and its conclusions were drawn after the case of a newborn dying after having had honey.

Religious significance

Honey is also known for having a religious significance. In Hinduism, honey is considered to be one of the five elixirs of immortality. Ancient Hindi literature refer to the use of honey for its great medicinal value and for it being a healthy food. In Judaism, honey also plays an important role. Honey is considered to be symbol for the new year. For the start of the new year, apple slices are dipped in honey and are eaten as part of the traditional meal. In Buddhism honey is also considered to be important. Honey is used during the festival Madhu Purnima. This festival is celebrated in Bangladesh and India. During this festival honey is brought to the monks since it is remembered that honey was given to the Buddha by a monkey. The honey was given as an act of peace and was meant for the Buddha to eat. This act is also often depicted in Buddhist art. In Islam honey is promoted as a healthy and nutritious food. The Qur’an has dedicated an entire chapter to the use of honey. In his teachings, the Prophet Muhammad also recommends the use of honey for healing purposes. The Christian New Testament also refers to the use of honey. It is said that John the Baptist has lived a long life and has managed to survive its time in the wilderness due to a diet only consisting of wild honey.

Different forms of honey

Honey can be bought in different forms. The most common form of honey is its liquid form. However, honey can also be sold in other forms dependent of the processing methods. Crystalized honey, also referred to as candied honey or granulated honey, is more firm but can also be turned back into a liquid form when heated. Another form of honey is raw honey. Raw honey is honey when it has just been extracted from the beehive. No heat is added to raw honey and it possible for the honey to contain small parts of wax. Another form of honey is filtered honey. Filtered honey is any type of honey which has been filtered so that no fine particles are left. All air bubbles and small particles have been removed. Filtered honey is the type of honey which is preferred by the supermarket industry since customers like honey which does not contain any particles. The filtered honey is usually heated and is very clear. Also, filtered honey does not crystalize quickly. Creamed honey is also a popular form of honey. Creamed honey is also referred to as churned honey or whipped honey. It has been processed in such a way that it controls crystallization. The consistency of creamed honey is different compared to liquid honey since it is very smooth and spreadable. Also, it contains a high number of small crystals. These small crystals prevent the formation of large crystals. The formation of large crystals usually occurs in unprocessed honey.

Organic honey

A lot of people buying honey in the supermarket believe it to be healthy since it is a good alternative to sugar or another sweetener. Also, it is believed that all honey available in the supermarket is natural honey. However, this is not the case. Honey is produced in huge quantities and the production of it often happens on chemically sprayed farms. This means that the chemicals sprayed on weeds and crops could also get into the honey making it not as organic as we might think in the first place. It is not only the honey that gets affected, but also the bees. Bees could get seriously affected by the use of pesticides on the farms. Also global leaders are worried about the use of chemicals and pesticides on the farms. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, warned Barack Obama about the extensive use of pesticides on the farms. He said that if the use of chemicals is not greatly reduced in the coming years, it could lead to a globally volatile situation. This in turn would also mean that it is not just the bees that get affected, but also the global population. Nevertheless, it should be noted that there is no strong evidence that organic honey is better and healthier compared to honey which is not produced in an organic manner. Most of our decisions made with regards to consuming organic honey is based on our conscience and our beliefs. People usually feel more comfortable when something has been produced in an organic manner. This is due to the fact that organic products have been produced according to stringent guidelines.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1010x
Added: 04-07-2016 19:23
Last modified: 14-07-2016 20:13

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