Superfood Profile: The Health Benefits of Honey
Did you know that of all the superfoods, honey is the one that’s been around the longest? Honey is arguably the “oldest” superfood around, dated by cave paintings that depict past civilizations harvesting honey from wild bee hives. That means humanity has been hooked on honey and the health benefits of honey since at least 7000 BC! This liquid gold has healed wounds in Roman armies, fed Hannibal’s elephants on their trek through the Alps, and remained a highly prized trade good. Plus, it’s lengthy history is matched by its almost indefinite shelf life — it doesn’t spoil if sealed up. Ancient Egyptian tombs have been discovered with still-good, edible honey within. Now that’s a powerful history for a powerful superfood.
Since much information has surfaced around the harmful effects of artificial or refined sugars, honey has made comeback as a healthy sweetener option. But like any sugar, honey is a superfood to be consumed in moderation, and as such, we only include just enough honey in our foods to add just the right amount of healthy sweetness.
Most importantly, the health benefits of honey are vast. Just take a look at the nutritional profile of honey, based on a 100g portion:
- Calories: 304 kcal
- Water: 17g
- Protein: 0.3g
- Carbohydrates: 82g
- Calcium: 6mg
- Iron: 0.4mg
- Magnesium: 2mg
- Phosphorus: 4mg
- Potassium: 52mg
- Sodium: 4mg
- Zinc: 0.2mg
- Vitamin C: 0.5mg
- Folate: 2µg
- Niacin: 0.12mg
- Vitamin B: 0.26mg
Many superfoods have powerful little components called antioxidants, and honey is definitely counted in that group. Antioxidants are linked to so many health benefits, it can be hard to keep track of them all: cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, eye health, brain health, and more. You want these in your body and working toward deactivating “free radicals”, which have harmful effects at high levels.
Bees use digestive bacteria in their gut to create honey, and this good bacteria can also help yours, too. While honey does not contain “probiotics”, it does act as a “prebiotic”, aka a food that feeds the healthy digestive bacteria in our digestive tracts and promotes a healthy gut. As a result, this is a sugar that is easy on even the most sensitive stomachs and digestive tracts.
Unlike refined sugars, honey is lower on the glycemic index because the body takes longer to process it and sugar is released gradually, preventing dangerous sugar spikes. Combined with other healthy superfoods, like in our bars, honey has an even slower release of sugar into the bloodstream. This helps keep you fueled for longer periods of time. For diabetics, honey doesn’t increase blood sugar levels as much as other types (but they should still be careful with it).
Honey is now being looked at as a natural way to try and combat seasonal allergies. The idea of eating honey is much like getting an allergy shot, which exposes a person in small doses to the things they’re allergic to in an effort to build an immunity. Remember that bees use pollen to make honey, and pollen is that frustrating yellow dust that creates drippy noses and sends many of us into sneezing fits. By consuming local honey made from pollen in your area, there is a theory that it could also help build an immunity against it.
Because of the health benefits of honey, we use organic wildflower honey in many of our Pumpkin Seed Bars and we also make sure to harvest that honey in a responsible way.