Submitted by Fan, Shelley Viggiano
I had a jar of honey in my cupboard that I bought from a local bee keeper last summer. Crystals had grown along the bottom, and the honey looked cloudy – like there were microbes having some kind of sweet party in there. Funny, I thought this was a bad thing and that the honey must’ve turned. So I tossed it out.
See, I grew up with the ubiquitous little plastic bear in the cupboard. The contents were uniformly pale yellow and clear. It never thickened or crystallized, and it sat placidly on the shelf while we reached for the big jar of white powder sitting on the counter instead. Sugar is sugar, right? Turns out we couldn’t have been more wrong. It also appears that I made an error in throwing out that beautiful honey the nice Ukrainian lady who wears a kerchief and a pair of old men’s moccasins, sold to me.
Not all honey is created equally. Though honey has a much lower glycemic index than table sugar – thus making it a better choice for diabetics, or anyone watching their weight, mass produced honey holds little other value. To be sure – unless your honey is labeled as “raw”, you aren’t gaining any benefit from it, other than sweetness. I was surprised to learn that we can do better than that.
Raw, unpasteurized (pasteurized means cooked to at least 145 degrees) honey has a myriad of benefits. It has been used for thousands of years as an antibiotic to treat wounds, a beauty product to condition hair and skin, and an anti-viral. Raw honey contains 27 minerals, 22 essential amino acids, and 5000 live enzymes. Yes, those floaters in my jar of honey were live cultures, referred to as pre-biotics. Pre-biotics help pro-biotics adhere in your digestive tract, allowing good bacteria to grow steadily. If your GI health is of concern – combining Greek yogurt and raw honey is a great natural solution for what ails your belly. And those amino acids I mentioned? They are literally the building blocks of life – every cell and process in your body needs them. There are 10 essential amino acids that we cannot make on our own and so we have to eat them. Raw honey contains all of them. In addition raw honey has anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic and anti-tumor properties. Many people worldwide still use honey to treat skin wounds and prevent infection.
Commercially made honey is refined, blended, and heated – killing those beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals. It looks smooth and uniform because it was boiled and chemically filtered, and it never crystallizes, which is a big hint that it has been processed. If your raw honey crystallizes, just set it in a pan of warm water to liquefy it again. And if it appears cloudy, just think of all the good you are doing for your tummy! Once Again offers great organic and fair trade raw honey from Dawes Hill, produced in South America. (Even Killer Bee honey – all the sweetness, none of the deadly sting!) And if you like to buy local, the Dawes Hill Clover and Wildflower honey comes from right here in NY and surrounding states.
Have you learned anything? I did! I plan to chuck the big bag of nutritionally valueless white powder, and go for honey in my smoothies, cookies and tea. Honey is a tasty treat, but if you eat it raw, you will also gain major health benefits, and that is sweet indeed.