In complement to its taste rates, honey has countless nutritional properties. But are all types of honey similar? Answers with a beekeeper and a nutritionist, who enlighten us on all the benefits of honey.
A superfood and treasure of nature, honey contains many nutritional qualities. In France, we consume nearly 40,000 tonnes of it a year, whether to enhance breakfast, complete a bowl of granola, or replace refined sugar in recipes.
But how do you know which honey to choose? Are all kinds of honey equal? Do some have specific properties?
Answers with Aurélie Biron-Paumard dietitian-nutritionist at WW and Henri Clément, professional beekeeper and author of the book The Rustica treatise on beekeeping.
Honey, is a natural sugar with a low glycemic index
“The fundamental benefit of honey is that even if you put little, you will have the same sense of sugar, launches Aurélie Biron-Paumard straight away. For instance, for a teaspoon and a half of honey, you will maintain the impression of holding put three spoons of sugar”.
Unlike refined sugar, honey has an impressive sweetening power and a low glycemic index, due to the fructose it contains.
This is also why its consumption is not restricted to individuals with diabetes.
According to a 2018 study posted in the journal Nutrients, daily consumption of honey may enhance fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, it is best to consult with your diabetologist’s doctor before changing his diet.
However, it is not because it is considered better than refined sugar that honey should be consumed in large quantities – whether you have diabetes or not -. “Honey remains a precious nutrition, it has 80% sugar, 18% water, 0.2% protein, and a few traces of nutrients per 100g”, interprets the nutrition specialist.
Honey, is a food loaded with trace ingredients and antioxidants
A syrupy food made by bees, honey also has multiple nourishing qualities, due to its composition. It is a concentration of trace components, which beekeeper Henri Clément indicates.
“Honey possesses particularly varied trace components: potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, barium”.
Not to note the antioxidants (phenolic compounds, flavonoids, etc.) whose are known, particularly in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. There are also enzymes, carbohydrates, lipids, and amino acids.
If in public, all honey – if they are purified and directly from the hive – includes these nutrients, there may be some deviations in the composition, relying on the coloring of the honey.
Remark also that we keep differences due to the forager bee: thus a black bee from Brittany will not leave the same enzymes as a Carnolian bee or as a Sicilian bee. Note that there are more than 20,000 species in the world, including 750 in Europe.
Harvesting strategies and times can also have an impact: honey harvested too early will have greatly fewer nutrients, and in the event of heat, the arrangement, and in particular the vitamins and enzymes, deteriorate.
The properties of honey according to the flowers visited
One can even notice discrepancies between the honey – always natural – depending on the flowers foraged by the bees in the hive. Thus, lavender honey will not have identical properties to chestnut honey or all-flower honey.
Proponents of apitherapy attribute distinct health properties to different kinds of honey.
Thus, lavender honey will be advised in case of sleep disorders or for its antiseptic properties;
– eucalyptus honey for its activity on the ENT globe and to soothe coughs;
– rosemary honey to ease digestion and promote the gallbladder;
– acacia honey to fight against constipation;
– heather honey for its diuretic effects, or in complement to a treatment to treat cystitis;
– chestnut honey for its activity on blood circulation;
– thyme honey for sore throats;
– Manuka honey – super nectar from New Zealand – for its strong antibacterial ability;
– and yet all-flower honey, for irritated throats or digestive disorders.
Effects that science validates, without ignoring that honey stays a sugar and therefore should not be abused, at the chance of having harmful impacts on the body.
How to choose the right honey?
In addition to the properties attributed to the different kinds of honey, there are other criteria to pay attention to when buying.
The first thing to check to choosing quality honey: is its origin. “Prefer jars that mention the origin (Provence, Corsica, Languedoc) and avoid labeled honey from intra and extra EU mixtures”, warns the beekeeper. Also, make sure it says “collected and potted by the beekeeper.”
In addition, for more guarantee, it is preferable to opt for direct purchase with the beekeeper or local networks (amap, organic stores) and to avoid the honey of the large distribution which can be “ blended honey”, often cut with water or glucose syrup.
Also Read: Health Benefits of Mango Butter
On the consistency side now, beware of liquid honey sold on the shelves of department stores. “Some consumers think that hard honey is of poor quality, but no, it’s a natural phenomenon and it’s even a guarantee of quality”, explains Henri Clément.
Indeed, all honey crystallizes over time, it depends on the glucose-fructose ratio. Thusly chestnut, acacia, fir, or forest honey remains liquid for a very long time, while other honey, such as rapeseed or white heather honey, crystallizes quickly.
In addition, the color can also help you in choosing a “good honey”. According to our beekeeper, whether it is liquid or solid, beautiful honey must present a single-colored robe. “The shades can vary from the most purified white to the most extreme black, parting via several yellows, reds, browns, or oranges”, he clarifies.
Beware of labels
And to help us in our choice of honey, there are different labels, some more reliable than others. “It is preferable to opt for honey labeled IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) or PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)”, explains Henri Clément.
There are currently two protected designations of origin in France: AOP honey fir tree from the Vosges and AOP honey from Corsica.
Some honeys are labeled “organic” which corresponds to different criteria, ranging from natural materials for the hive, to respect for wintering, including nearby “organic” pollen sources.
Finally, the “mountain” designation represents, according to our expert, an officially recognized sign of quality, in the same way as PGIs or PDOs.
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