The evidence is overwhelming -- we eat way too much refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. The average American now consumes over 25 teaspoons of sugar and corn syrup EVERY DAY. This translates into more than 650 calories per day from sweeteners. Much of this sugar intake comes from processed foods, carbonated beverages, and fruit drinks. This over-indulgence in sweeteners is linked to increased rates of obesity,diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, and cancer. Dr. Aseem Malhotra recently observed that sugar is now enemy number one in the western diet.(1)
Before sugar and corn subsidies significantly lowered prices for these sweeteners, Americans used far more raw unfiltered honey in their daily diet. In 1947, there were 5.9 million managed beehives in the US; today there are around 2.6 million managed beehives.(2) That means that many of our parents and grandparents were consuming far more raw unfiltered, real honey in their daily diets.
Pure, raw honey is very different from typical grocery store honey. Much of the "real" honey sold by large food retailers is pasteurized and ultra-filtered.This over-processing removes all of the beneficial pollen and propolis, kills all of the beneficial enzymes, and degrades or destroys most of the vitamins and minerals. This over-processing results in a clear, shelf stable, and bland product that is no better for you than white sugar.
Real raw honey, on the other hand, has been aptly named a super food: "Bee products are considered to be one of the most spiritual and magical foods on the planet, as well as one of the top superfoods and sources of concentrated nutrition."(3) Raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized honey is a rich and highly nutritious blend of enzymes, antibiotics, probiotics, vitamins and minerals. Unfiltered real honey is a powerful antioxidant, and helps to fight the buildup of "bad" cholesterol in your arteries. It contains bifidobacteria, which promote good digestion. Raw honey is a natural immune enhancer and anti-inflammatory agent. Ingesting the pollen grains present in raw honey have been known to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms, especially when local raw honey is used. Honey is also great for athletes, providing easily absorbed carbs, along with natural glucose and fructose, which increases performance and accelerates post exercise recovery. For skin care, raw honey contains strong anti-bacterial properties and has been used for centuries to treat burns and cuts.(4)
Raw honey, however, is still a sweetener. It should be consumed in moderation, and is only one part of a healthly diet and lifestyle. But the evidence is clear - raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized honey is far superior to processed white sugar and high fructose corn syrup in almost every way. At least 1 to 2 tablespoons should be part of your daily diet. Two excellent ways to consume raw honey are in herbal tea and fruit smoothies. For herbal tea, make sure that the water is not too hot, or it will degrade some of the nutritional benefits of the honey. Also, for an added kick of nutrition, add a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a full bodied herbal tea (Rooibos tea is great for this). This tea/honey/vinegar blend will supercharge your immune system. For a wonderful fruit smoothies, add a cup each of frozen strawberries and blueberries in a blender, add coconut milk to cover, add 1 tablespoon of raw honey and blend until smooth. You can also add some ground ginger or cinnamon for an added zip of flavor and nutrients.
As noted by Dr. Fessenden and Mike McInnes, "Honey is Sunshine Energy."(5) Here at Smiley Honey, we think that "Sunshine Energy" is a wonderful title for the magical and wonderful food what we call raw honey. Start a healthier life today by consuming more raw honey, and much less white sugar and high fructose corn syrup. You will be so glad that you did, and your body will thank you too.
(2) Journal of Invertebrate Pathology,101 (2010) S80-S95.
(3) David Wolfe, Superfoods:The Food and Medicine of the Future (2010).
(4) Claire Watson, http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-raw-organic-honey-9105.html
(5) Ron Fessenden & Mike McInnes, The Honey Revolution: Restoring the Health of Future Generations (2008).