What Makes Honey So Healthy: Nutritional Values

Honey is widely known as one of the healthiest foods in the world that has a lot of benefits. Beyond its great taste, this miraculous product of honey bees also has a long medicinal history. In the ancient Egypt, honey was used as an embalming fluid and a dressing for wounds. Honey can absorb water in the wound, drying it out so that the growth of bacteria and fungi is inhibited. But before discussing the benefits of honey, it would be interesting to have an overview of its nutritional profile.

honeyHoney is a source of carbohydrates, containing a high level of natural sugars (mostly fructose and glucose). Sugars in honey include fructose (38.5%), glucose (31%), sucrose (1%), and other sugars (9%). Fructose and glucose are monosaccharides, that is, simple sugars. Sucrose, which is composed of fructose and glucose linked together, is a disaccharide. Some of the disaccharides in honey are maltose, sucrose, kojibiose, turanose, isomaltose, and maltulose. The simple sugars are easily absorbed into the blood, but that absorption is sustained and gradual. It makes honey as a good pre-exercise food.

Actually, sugar syrup also provides the similar levels of easily-digested sugars and usually it costs less than honey. But the question is: can it replace all the quality that honey has? However honey contains complex properties that we might haven’t fully understood yet, including those aside from the sugars. And above all, honey is an all-natural sweetener without any added ingredients, which also means it could be a perfect alternative for a healthy diet.

Other properties in honey are water (which is the third greatest component in honey), acids, and other nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. The vitamins include Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Vitamin B6, Folate (Vitamin B9), and Vitamin C. While the minerals in honey consist of iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Generally, antioxidants content in darker honeys are higher than the lighter honeys.

The minerals and vitamins may prevent obesity and promote overall health for us, by helping the metabolizing of undesirable cholesterol and fatty acid on the organs and tissues into the system. But it should be noted that vitamins and minerals in honey are only present in small amounts. Honey also contains small amounts of enzymes that are introduced into honey by the bees during the phases of honey manufacturing process. The predominant enzymes in honey are diastase (amylase), invertase (α-glucosi- dase) and glucose oxidase. Other enzymes such as catalase and acid phosphatase, are generally present in lesser amounts. The enzymes may cause or speed up chemical reactions in the body and thus can help digestion in the human body. In raw honey, an enzyme called glucose oxidase can produce hydrogen peroxide, a mild antiseptic.


Honey & Glycemic Index (GI)

Glycemic Index (GI) describes the rate and extent to which 50 grams of a carbohydrate-rich food will raise blood glucose levels. You can also see it as a measure of how quickly the body can use the carbohydrates in food as energy. If the carbohydrate is released too quickly, it may cause disturbances in your blood sugar levels. A sudden surge of energy which quickly drains away can make you feel tired, weak and hungry again. While the foods that release their energy slowly can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable. The value of low GI foods is 55 or less. Medium GI foods have values between 56 and 69 and high GI foods, which release their energy quickly, have GI values of 70 or above.

The glycemic index may vary depends on the type of honey. Floral honeys tend to have the lowest GIs, so it is safer to use them to sweeten your foods. According to the Glycemic Index Database, locust honey has a GI of 32, yellow box honey has a GI of 35 and stringy bark honey has a GI of 44. Other honeys release their energy faster and are classed as medium on the glycemic index. These tend to be the commercial blends, clover honey which has a GI of 69 and pure honey which has a GI of 58.

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