There is no dearth of honey brands dotting the market shelves claiming to be pure, healthy and immunity boosting. Are all these products really as healthy as they claim to be? Is the honey you consume pure, unadulterated and unaltered from its natural state?
To ascertain the goodness of honey, one must know that honey is most beneficial and healthy when consumed in its most natural state. However, when the honey extracted from beehives is processed, heated and laden with additives, it not just loses its innate health benefits but may even become unhealthy to consume. So, if you want to consume honey for its myriad health benefits, it is raw, unprocessed honey you must look for.
Health Benefits of Raw Honey
Honey has long known to be a superfood with near miraculous medicinal properties. Ancient medical literatures from across civilizations show how honey has always been used as a healing agent. Among his diverse observations, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle also referred to honey as "good as a salve for sore eyes and wounds''. The benefits of ''madhu'' find mention in the Vedas, suggesting how our ancestors swore by its medicinal properties.
Modern research has attested to the fact that when consumed in its pure form, honey indeed has miraculous medicinal properties. Honey's antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties are well-known today. Pure honey also has immunomodulatory properties, implying that it helps modulate the body's immune system and boosts its immunity effectively. Growing evidence in recent years has indicated that honey when consumed in its purest form may also have potential anti-cancer benefits. The pollen derived by bees from the nectar of vibrant and diverse flowers helps improve digestion, vitality and longevity. It is rich in amino acids and may help achieve a series of health goals including weight loss, fighting off allergies, improving respiratory health and even provide anti-ageing benefits.
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Raw honey is also packed with phytonutrients and is antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal in nature. In current times when the only way to really protect yourself from a contagious virus is to boost your immunity, a cup of pure honey-lemon tea can go a long way.
Unfortunately, a bulk of these benefits is lost when honey is subjected to processing, heating and pasteurization. Heavy processing kills its natural curative qualities and reduces it to a mere sweet tasting syrup. This is why it is not a given that the honey picked up from grocery stores is replete with all these health benefits.
Raw Honey vs Processed Honey
Raw honey is what is derived directly from the bees in its most natural form. Raw honey is neither heated nor pasteurized. It is not processed in any form and does not contain any additives. Rather, it comes laden with the immense benefits of bee wax and bee pollen. However, not all honey available in the market is in its natural raw and unprocessed state.
The process of mechanical filtration, pasteurization and bottling does significantly improve the texture and appearance of honey but it also kills most of its benefits. Pasteurized honey can increase its own glycemic index which in turn has adverse effect on diabetics. Heating honey not only deteriorates its quality but also results in a loss of essential enzymes and nutrients. Worse still, the principles of Ayurveda suggest that when cooked, the molecules of honey produce toxins which contribute to health problems such as congestion, obesity, indigestion, respiratory diseases and blood glucose imbalances.
Unfortunately, most of the mass-packaged honey we get in our local stores is preheated and severely processed. On the other hand, some producers also replace honey with sugarcane, corn or rice solutions while many beekeepers replace the honey in the hive itself with sugar substitutes. A study conducted by a leading Indian environment watchdog recently threw up startling revelations. It concluded that a number of leading honey brands in the country were adulterated with sugar syrup.
What to look for while buying honey?
If you are out to buy honey for its health and immunity boosting benefits, it is raw and unprocessed honey that you should look for. At Conscious Food, we source honey from the Shivalik hills of the Himalayas using age-old eco-friendly honey-extraction methods that preserve its natural goodness and nutrients. It is then bottled and shipped to ensure every spoonful is as pure and fresh as can be.(Shivranjani Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer, Conscious Food)