You may already know that honey is a great alternative to the refined sugars that seem to find their way into nearly every food we ingest these days. It can be used straight up as a sweetener for coffee. It works in baking as an alternative to white sugar. It can add a healthy spike of sweetness to sauces and all kinds of inventive dishes.
But not just any honey will do. It’s important to look for the least processed types of honey, ideally raw and local, if you can find them. Raw honey is better because it’s closest to its pure state—unrefined and unpasteurized. (However, due to the potential for food poisoning, it’s important to be cautious with any food labeled raw.)
What may be surprising is that most honey brands in conventional grocery stores are just the opposite of raw. Often the chunky, cloudy goodness that comes from beehive cells has been heated and filtered to a clarified golden syrup before it hits the supermarket disguised as honey.
Unfortunately, those processes destroy most of honey’s powerful health properties, including vital enzymes, vitamins and minerals, plus phytonutrients like pollen and propolis, which can help with everything from immunity to energy to digestion.
Many people believe sourcing honey from a local farm is even more advantageous. This effort is especially worth it if you suffer from seasonal allergies, as eating honey from as close to home as possible has been purported to build immunity against specific regional allergens.
The idea is that as bees make honey, tiny bits of pollen from allergenic plants get trapped inside. When you eat even a spoonful a day, over time it can work like a natural inoculation, providing relief by boosting your tolerance to local pollen irritants. While the science is still out on this theory, it’s at least worth a try, especially if you’re tired of annoying allergy shots and heavy prescriptions.
There are so many reasons to double down bees’ genius contribution to our planet: honey. Use it as a sugar substitute, health promoter, allergen blocker and so much more.