How sweet it is, having a supply of beautiful fresh-from-the-hive honey in my pantry. I’ve been enamored with the stuff, gleefully drizzling it over any suitable food that crosses my path (usually Greek yogurt, but I have to say the culinary highlight so far has been its role in an extra special birthday-breakfast baked good that I definitely need to share with you soon).
As much as I’ve enjoyed eating the honey, the real treat has been digging into its sweet science. I was curious just how much researchers have been able to observe about honey’s composition, biochemistry, and dietary effects. So I dove deep, into a literature review so obsessive that it gave me nostalgia for my grad school days. If you’re a hopeless nutrition nerd like me, please enjoy my honey reading list:
- Honey as a source of dietary antioxidants: structures, bioavailability and evidence of protective effects against human chronic diseases.
- Neurological Effects of Honey: Current and Future Prospects
- The effects of long-term honey, sucrose or sugar-free diets on memory and anxiety in rats.
- The Potential Role of Honey and its Polyphenols in Preventing Heart Diseases: A Review
- Significance of nonaromatic organic acids in honey.
- The long-term effects of feeding honey compared with sucrose and a sugar-free diet on weight gain, lipid profiles, and DEXA measurements in rats.
- Substituting honey for refined carbohydrates protects rats from hypertriglyceridemic and prooxidative effects of fructose.
- Honey: a novel antioxidant.
- Honey–a novel antidiabetic agent.
- Oligosaccharides might contribute to the antidiabetic effect of honey: a review of the literature.
- In vitro investigation into the potential prebiotic activity of honey oligosaccharides.
- Stimulatory effect of honey on multiplication of lactic acid bacteria under in vitro and in vivo conditions.
Very interesting stuff… I knew that honey was a source of antioxidants, but I was impressed to see so many reports of significant potential protection from oxidative damage, inflammation, and the chronic diseases they can manifest. And although some of the experimental studies are limited by small sample sizes and animal models, it’s a pretty compelling pattern to learn more about how a diet containing honey, compared to one with refined sugars or starches, seems to be associated with fewer disease risk factors like altered lipid profiles and elevated markers of oxidative stress. And wouldn’t you know it, honey even seems to enhance our microbiota, supplying tasty prebiotic oligosaccarides to nourish the friendly bugs in our guts.
To take advantage of these health-promoting qualities, I designed this sweet, spicy tonic that pairs honey with a trio of spices that bring even more evidence-based herbal medicine to the party: cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper.
Taking a moment to steep a steamy mug of these simple ingredients will make you feel like a modern-day apothecary, and warm both your body and spirit. Consider it a nourishing restorative, or an antidote for daily stresses. I find it to be a particularly effective remedy for the colds/congestion/allergies that tend to threaten during cool, damp springtime weather.
Bring your cup of water just to a boil, and pour it over the rest of the ingredients in a mug. Steep for about 5 minutes, strain the solids if desired, then enjoy.
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