By Rebecca Fending
Fall is full of flavorful foods and tantalizing smells; from deep, rich spices to light and earthy mums, ’tis the season to indulge your senses. And what would the season be without a sweet treat featuring one of nature’s best sugars, honey? September is National Honey Month, an all natural treat that deserves its own month based on the number of health benefits one can enjoy from replacing conventional sweeteners with this liquid gold.
Here are five ways in which unprocessed honey can help better your health while letting you indulge your sweet tooth:
Antioxidant-rich foods have been proven to help lower your risk of various diseases such as heart disease, stroke and certain cancers by regulating blood pressuring and reducing cholestrol and triglycerides. This is especially true for unprocessed or raw honey. The polyphenols and flavonoids in this substance help to combat “free radicals” within our bodies that contribute to our physical aging and deterioration, both inside and out.
For this reason, honey is also great in maintaining eye health. The antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols in honey aid in fighting off negative compounds in the eyes that contribute to deteriorating vision.
Not only do the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in honey help with your internal health, but they can also assist in healing external wounds of various origins. In a 2015 study, it was found that honey healed various “partial thickness burns” more quickly than typical treatments, and post-surgery wounds at a faster rate than antiseptic and repeatedly changed coverings. These occurred at a 43.3 percent success rate.
Honey has been found to help aid other topical skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and mild lesions. Again, this is more than likely due to antibiotic and anti-inflammatory qualities attributed to the defensin-1 protein found in honey bees and transferred from bees to the honey.
The best honey for healing topical wounds is Manuka honey. Many studies have found that this type of honey from New Zealand has specific anti-microbial qualities that allow for it to effectively heal topical skin issues.
Honey has also been found to help suppress a pesky cough due to upper respiratory infections. Found especially useful in treating a child’s cough, but still mildly successful for an adult, honey reduces the number of coughs and the severity of the cough when taken as a spoonful before sleep.
To use honey as a cough suppressant, try making these homemade cough drops for this coming cold and flu season:
Sweetening Alternative for Diabetics
As you may have guessed, using honey as a sweetener for your beverages or dishes is a healthier alternative to processed sugar or chemically derived sugar substitutes. Due to its previously discussed anti-inflammatory qualities, it can be a great help to those with type-2 diabetes in reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and other diseases caused and affected by inflammation.
Although honey tends to have a higher sugar content than conventional sugar, it also has a number of the aforementioned health benefits for its advantage. Try to use only a minimal amount if you have type-2 diabetes.
*Although these properties of honey make it seem like a miracle substance, be sure to consult your doctor before consuming or using honey has a treatment.
How to work honey into your daily diet
It’s easier than you think to include more honey in your daily routine. For starters, stir a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered or unprocessed honey into your morning beverage. This works especially well in hot drinks such as brewed coffee, green or black tea. However, you can also stir it into a tall glass of lemon water to aid in keeping skin clear and flushing toxins out of the body due to lemon’s diuretic quality.
If you’re looking for a sweet snack or light breakfast, drizzling a bit of honey over yogurt, fruit or granola is another great way to sweeten your day and help support your body. Better yet, combine the yogurt, granola and fruit in one bowl with a drizzle of honey as garnish for a deliciously refreshing homemade parfait.
Honey can also be a great ingredient for cooking. One dish in which honey helps balance out each flavor is crushed red pepper pasta. Make your own tomato-based pasta sauce by sauteing minced garlic, crushed red pepper and diced onion in olive oil until fragrant. Add a spoonful of honey to help sweetened and balance the spicy bite of the fresh garlic and pepper, then add your desired tomato products and pasta–a quick and easy, “gourmet” pasta dish!
Of course, honey isn’t a miracle liquid, but it’s a great natural sugar to replace conventional in your daily foods. Be sure to only eat it in moderation in order to fully enjoy its benefits.