In ancient times, Eygptians sacrificed honey by the tons to their river gods, Roman legions slathered honey on the wounds as a natural cure to promote healing, and medieval lords reserved honey for their private use. It's told that the body of Alexander the Great was preserved and embalmed with honey. As honey was then expensive and not all could afford it, its use in cooking was reserved only for the wealthy. And ancient myths and writings on alcoholic beverages throughout the world also contain references to mead, or honey wine, which is known as the world's oldest fermented beverage.
All nectar contains some kind of yeast which can reproduce in higher-moisture content honey and cause fermentation. While fermentation does not necessarily pose any health risk, some manufacturers do pasteurization whereby the honey is heated very quickly to kill any yeast cell without damaging the product too much and then rapidly cooled. Pasteurized honey also has a slower granulation process and will last longer in its liquid state.
Hence, honey is a source of carbohydrates, containing
* 80% natural sugar -- mostly fructose and glucose. Due to the high level of fructose, honey is sweeter than table sugar.
* 18% water. The less water content the honey has, the better the quality of honey.
* 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein.
The vitamins present in honey are B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. I learnt that "conductivity" is an indirect way of measuring the mineral content of a honey. Manuka honey has a higher than normal conductivity -- about 4 times that of normal flower honeys. The higher the conductivity, the better the value of the honey.
It was reported that archaeologists found 2000 year old jars of honey in Egyptian tombs and they still tasted delicious! So, real honey facts ; there is no expiration date for honey, it is a miracle food; it never goes bad! Many people find it rather surprising that bacteria cannot grow in honey because all things being equal, bacteria love sugar. The unique chemical composition of low water content and relatively high acidic level in honey creates a low pH (3.2-4.5) environment that makes it very unfavorable for bacteria or other micro-organism to grow. "Best Before" dates on honey buckets indicating honey shelf life thus do not seem to be very important after all.
***The benefits of honey go beyond its great taste. A great natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies, honey is known for its effectiveness in instantly boosting the performance, endurance and reduce muscle fatigue of athletes.
***It can be a powerful immune system booster. Honey’s antioxidant and antibacterial properties can help improve digestive system and help you stay healthy and fight disease.
***For thousands of years, honey has been recognized as one of the most natural home remedies to treat a wide range of ailments and complaints including yeast infection, athlete foot, and arthritis pain. Its antiseptic properties inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and helps keep external wounds clean and free from infection. Honey has been used as a natural care first aid treatment for wounds, burns and cuts as it is able to absorb moisture from the air and promote healing. Its antibacterial properties prevent infection and functions as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing both swelling and pain, and even scarring.
***Honey has a hygroscopic nature, which means when exposed to air; it naturally absorbs moisture in from the air. In treating open wounds, honey is useful as it could help prevent scarring by keeping the skin moist, encourage the growth of new tissues, and allow easy removal of any dressing by preventing dressing from becoming stuck to the skin.
***Honey contains natural antioxidant properties that can destroy biologically destructive chemical agents which have been linked to many diseases such as cancer. Studies also found that dark-color honeys such as Buckwheat seem to possess more antioxidants than light-color varieties. Not only could honey’s antioxidants help to eliminate free radicals in the body, they are also part of the nutrient supply for growth of new tissue.
***The effective antimicrobial agent in honey prohibits the growth of certain bacteria. It contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide which is believed to be the main reason for the antimicrobial activity of honey. As such, honey is a useful treatment for wounds and scalds. Cuts, abrasions and scalds can be covered in honey to prevent bacteria from entering the wound and promote healing.
***Honey can help treat minor acne by attacking the bacteria that cause the outbreaks while moisturizing the skin to aid rejuvenation.
***When you get a hangover from drinking too much alcohol, combat its effects by applying honey remedy. Honey is gentle on the stomach and contains a mix of natural sugars such fructose which is known to speed up the oxidation of alcohol by the liver, acting as a 'sobering' agent.
***One of the better known health benefits of honey is that it is able to help treat sore throats. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, honey not only soothes throats but can also kill certain bacteria that cause the infection.
***A daily spoonful or two of honey taken prior to bedtime can help us sleep better and lose weight at the same time.