Pot of gold
The magical properties of this glorious liquid have been celebrated since the dawn of civilisation. But, with food processing and mass production, this elixir has often been reduced to a cheap syrup, with few of the nutritional benefits that raw honey boasts – and here’s why…
Firstly, raw honey is not heat-treated nor refined so retains thousands of beneficial enzymes, essential amino acids and countless vitamins and minerals. Raw honey maintains its unique phytonutrients, namely bee pollen and propolis, that help to modulate the immune system and ease seasonal allergies. This is due to honey’s microbes, which educate our own gut bacteria on how to build up their defences, and is the reason to source honey that is as local to you as possible.
As well as working with our microbes, honey helps enzymes in the gut to produce hydrogen peroxide, which creates a natural antiseptic environment and is why it has such a positive association with wound healing and ulcers.
Honey also supports a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, since it feeds the more beneficial micro-organisms and crowds out disruptive ones. It is also said to include powerful polyphenol antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage and prevent certain diseases.
The rawest honey is on the cloudy side as it is taken directly from the honeycomb with minimal intervention to reach the end product. It is better not to heat honey, nor cook with it, as this destroys its benefits.
Remember, its sweetness is for savouring, not satiating – Winnie-the-Pooh had a point with: ‘I wasn’t going to eat it, I was just going to taste it!’ One tablespoon of the raw stuff a day (on sourdough with nut butter is my favourite), will deliver all of honey’s bountiful health-giving properties. Sweet.
Spoonfuls of Honey by Hattie Ellis (Pavilion Books, £29). Beautiful ways to make honey part of your daily dishes.
Go for local, raw honey – closest to home is best. See The London Honey Company (thelondonhoneycompany.co.uk) and Local Honey Man (localhoneyman.co.uk).
Help save our bees – with a bee-friendly garden or even adopting a hive. See the Friends of the Earth (Bee Cause) and Bumblebee Conservation Trust websites.