Before we talk about the benefits of raw honey let us first delve a bit into what makes honey a complex food that needs to be closely examined.
Ancient Taste Treasure - Raw Honey
First and foremost, not many of us are aware that honey is one of the most ancient of foods. It is found in texts that go back thousands of years. There are references to honey from as early as 1200 BC, and thereafter, images and carvings from 2100 BC showing Honey as a part of the food scene.
There are descriptions of honey made in the pre and post Vedic eras. Archaeological studies show “Madhuvanam” being mentioned in the Ramayana which is about 4000 years old. Madhu was the name by which honey was referred to due to its intoxicating taste and aroma.
The history of honey also mentions instances in ancient Egypt where tombs were preserved with honey and even after hundreds of years the honey was still found to be in edible condition.
When octogenarians and nonagenarians talk about the honey of their youth, they talk of tribals climbing rock clad cliffs or towering evergreens in search of pure honey.
In addition to the formation of natural hives, the bees producing honey are also of different kinds.
Each kind of bee is said to produce a honey which varies in health benefits, taste and consistency.
- Raw honey which is produced by bees after collecting the nectar from flowers and regurgitated is made up of nectar and water.
- The water gets evaporated in an organic manner when the bees flap their wings while making the honey.
- The honey which is then produced has a chemical composition that is similar to sugar.
- Sugar is hygroscopic which means that the water content in it is minimal.
- But if it is left open it can pull in the moisture in the air and change.
- This is why it is important to keep a jar of honey tightly closed.
- Since there is very little moisture prevalent in raw honey it makes it difficult for any microorganism or bacteria to survive.
- This is essentially why raw unpasteurized honey is so healthy and cannot be compared to pasteurised honey.
- Bees secrete an enzyme called glucose oxidase
- When this mixes with the nectar it is broken down into glycolic acid and hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is used extensively in the medical industry to inhibit growth of bacteria, healing of wounds etc. in raw honey it is naturally occurring in minimal quantities but enough to work its healing magic.
When honey is pasteurised through heating, it kills all the properties which make raw honey a medicinal food. What we have left with is a sweet , sticky liquid which will stare at us from pretty glass bottles but really does not prove to be nutritionally beneficial.
Nutrients in Raw Honey
Similar to the nutrients found in plant life, honey contains calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, zinc along with essential enzymes and compounds.
Riboflavin is an antioxidant which safeguards against oxidative stress caused in the process of digestion.
It is therefore important to buy raw honey from a known source which supports traditional beekeeping and also ensures that the honey is free from clostridium botulinum (dangerous for infants below the age of 1) which can cause botulism in babies.
Consciously procured and bottled raw honey on the other hand is an unbeatable medicinal ingredient from nature’s pharmacy. It has the nutritional ability to cure disorders of the respiratory system, relieve stomach ailments , reduce inflammations and heal internal and external wounds.
Phytonutrients are compounds which give a great deal of protection . When present in a plant it helps combat cell degeneration and harm from UV rays.
Similarly the phytonutrients present in raw unpasteurised honey help boost the immunity and prevent cell damage which can lead to dangerous diseases like cancer.
We talk about antifungal and antibacterial foods because we need them to work their magic in this body of ours which is a complex ever functioning mechanism. The foods we choose to eat in the right combination are what build a team of warriors which are ready for battle at any given time. From having a broken and discoloured nail, to lesions on the skin and an itchy scalp, fungal infections can wreak havoc if we don’t take their right precautions. Rather than having to take strong medication to cure these ailments, having a regular habit of including raw honey in the daily food exercise can be more beneficial than we realise. An antibiotic will wipe out both the good and bad bacteria simultaneously.
Raw honey as mentioned earlier contains healthy enzymes . These are good for the gut and can be classified as probiotics. Having a teaspoon of raw honey with your desi cow milk is the smart way to have your drink sweetened because it aids the growth of flora and fauna in the gut. Without a healthy digestive system, no food we eat can be assimilated in a proper manner.
Laryngitis is not a pleasant condition to have is it ?
The voice comes out in squeaks and rough gasps letting us know that we have overstepped the allowed limits of the voice box. The remedy that is almost always prescribed is to have sips of warm water with honey. But, here’s the thing…sometimes it may not work. That’s when the focus has to shift to the kind of honey which is being used. Pasteurised honey will have no medicinal benefits to heal. Raw unpasteurised honey will work wonders with any kind of issues plaguing the throat including (respiratory illnesses) due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Healthy Honey Drinks
Turmeric & honey, pepper crushed with honey, tulsi and ginger juice with honey; are many of the tried and tested recipes from Indian homes which give concrete evidence that raw honey was a well known ingredient which accelerated healing and contributed to staying healthy.
Pasteurisation is a more recent practice which comes with the mindset of sterilising foods to remove the presence of bacteria. Unfortunately it ends up doing more harm than good.
The taste of raw honey changes based on the flowers that the bees take nectar from. Beekeeping follows a system where raw honey is based on both monofloral as well as multiflora bee feastings. Understanding what makes honey a unique food lies in choosing properly sourced raw unpasteurised honey over a pasteurised liquid of the same name.
Raw Unpasteurised Mono Floral Honey -
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