Many of us have an association between things that are good for us and things that taste bad. We’ve learned since childhood that chocolate pudding is dessert and that we can’t eat it until we’ve finished all our broccoli and other veggies
Thus, we have been led to assume that anything that tastes sugary and sweet must be bad, while healthy things will only ever taste like… well, sprouts.
But you’re an adult now! And thus, you are capable of understanding slightly more complex nuances of your diet. And that’s why it’s time to consider some of the exceptions to this rule. A good example? Honey.
Honey is absolutely delicious by all accounts. It is sweet, sugary and works great on pancakes (especially with a side bacon…). Despite this though, the benefits of raw honey are numerous and profound. This is a prolifically nutritious food and one that has countless different health benefits that go way beyond a lot of the ‘healthy’ foods that tend to come to mind when you’re thinking of ‘eating well’.
Read on and let us bask in the incredible benefits of raw honey!
Firstly, honey is packed with important nutrients. In particular, it is incredibly high in antioxidants which can help to block free radicals that cause aging and lead to cancer, while also boosting the immune system to prevent your chances of contracting colds, flus and other illnesses.
The most powerful antioxidant nutrients found in honey are the polyphenols, which are particularly abundant here and not easy to find elsewhere. The research backs up what already looks impressive on paper: in one study, subjects fed four tablespoons of honey per day for 29 days exhibited considerably higher levels of polyphenols in their body.
Honey is also a rich source of numerous vitamins and minerals. In particular, it is high in vitamin B6 (for healthy energy production), niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. It is also a food source of copper, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium! And the best way to get all these benefits is to consume the raw, unfiltered form.
Honey is packed with goodness but it also provides a few specific benefits when used in specific ways.
For starters, honey is promoted by many ‘biohackers’ as an effective sleeping aid/hack. Many people claim that having a teaspoon of honey before bed can significantly enhance their sleep that night and help them to wake up the next day feeling more rejuvenated and full of energy.
So, what might be going on here? One possibility is that the benefit is coming from the inclusion of two forms of sugar – sucrose and fructose. Between them, these two forms of energy are known to release energy slowly and quickly. This means that you should have an immediate supply of energy as you fall asleep, as well as a longer lasting supply of energy that you will feel when you wake up.
It has been suggested that one of the reasons we often feel unhealthy when we wake up in the morning is that we are low on body sugar – making us jittery and headache prone first thing in the morning. But if you have consumed honey, then you should still have a supply of energy in the morning so that you don’t feel quite so drained and ill.
Another possibility is that sleep is helped by the inclusion of anti-histamines in the honey, which are inhibitory neurotransmitter helping us to feel more sleepy and drowsy – just as consuming antihistamines from a packet can make you feel tired!
Finally, honey also contains magnesium which is known to relax the muscles by getting them to release calcium and which also appears to stimulate the brain ready for sleep.
Not convinced of the benefits of honey just yet?
Then you might just be won over the next time you overindulge on the alcohol with friends (or alone, sure…).
That’s because honey might just be the ideal hangover cure for a number of reasons.
For starters, the sugar that we’ve already described is great for providing more energy and helping to make you feel a little more human again after drinking. At the same time though, the fructose found in honey is also highly effective at combating acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is the main toxic substance that is produced as the body breaks down alcohol. In other words, acetaldehyde is the reason that your body feels rough after you’ve been drinking and honey can neutralize it.
There’s salt in honey too, which helps to restore your electrolytes and combat the cramps and muscle soreness that can also come from drinking.
If you really want to maximize the benefits of raw honey after drinking, then you should combine it with two other ingredients to create the ultimate hangover cure. Those ingredients are bread and banana - so make a banana and honey sandwich.
The banana will provide you with more energy, as well as a source of potassium to fix your electrolyte balance. Meanwhile, the bread is going to line your stomach and help to soak up any remaining acids and alcohol in your stomach.
When you first bite into this, the honey will seem sickly sweet and you may even gag if you’re feeling particularly rough! Stick with it though and you’ll find it can completely turn around your hangover!
Finally, the last benefits of raw honey pertain to its effect on allergies. It is currently uncertain just how honey helps to combat allergies but it is thought that it may contain natural antihistamines, which is another reason it can potentially work via a process called ‘immunotherapy’. That’s because it provides a way to gradually introduce traces of pollen into your system in a way that won’t trigger allergies, thereby teaching the body to stop triggering the immune response in future.