Honey is far more than a natural sweetener. It is a “functional food”, which means it is a natural food with health benefits. It contains natural antioxidants, enzymes and minerals including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium. Vitamins found in honey include vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin. In addition, the nutraceuticals contained in honey help neutralize damaging free radical activity.
One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, yet it has a healthy glycemic load around 10 for 1 Tbsp, which is a little less than a banana. and does not cause a sugar spike and elevated insulin release like white sugar. Although honey is an affordable food, bees spend thousands of hours collecting pollen from around two million flowers to make one pound of pure honey.
Research by the Palynology Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University tested 60 honey products from supermarkets and grocery stores and found that 76% contained no trace of pollen. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that any honey products that have been ultra-filtered, as these have, are not actually honey and therefore the health benefits of honey cannot be assumed.
Commercial honey is often heavily processed and may even have been chemically refined. Excessive heat destroys the natural enzymes, vitamins, and minerals in honey. Filtering and processing eliminates many of the beneficial phytonutrients including pollen and enzyme-rich propolis. The only way to achieve sparkling clear honey is by heat, so avoid the golden syrup-like honey in favor of opaque organic raw honey.