Another “new” healthy food I tried last year is raw honey. I was flipping through my Clean Eating and my other health magazines and noticed that it is used as the sweetener in a lot of healthy dessert type recipes. I was confused, what is “raw” honey? I went to look in my cupboard for my Billy Bee Honey bottle and the label said “pure honey.” Surely it’s the same thing, right? WRONG!! Raw honey is honey that has not been pasteurized (heated) or processed in any way. It comes straight from the extractor. Its appearance is cloudy compared to the pure honey that we find in our regular grocery stores. But I’ll get more into that later.
I was intrigued by this sweetener that appeared to be so popular; I’ve been reading health and fitness magazines since my early twenties and never really noticed this before. And suddenly it seemed to be everywhere. It can’t be that much better for you than regular pure honey? So of course, I did what most people do these days….I googled it!
I found several website supporting raw honey as a healthy choice for a sweetener and some that claim that it can help you lose weight! Well before I read any material about all the supposed health benefits, the first thing I did was look up its Glycemic Index to see how it compared to other sweetener options.
For those of you who don’t know what the Glycemic Index (GI) is, it is a measure of how foods containing carbohydrates effect your blood sugar levels. As I mentioned in a previous post, Insulin is the hormone that plays a large roll in converting carbohydrates into fat and the level of insulin that is in your body is determined by how much sugar is in your blood. And thus the GI system, which was originally created to help diabetics, is now a widely use for people looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight.
Below is chart containing the GI of some common sweeteners that I found at http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/blog/healthy-sugar-alternatives.php
The GI system uses Glucose as a reference with a value of 100. Foods with values of 55 or less are considered “Low GI”, 55-69 are “Medium GI” and 70+ are “High GI.” As you can see from the table, pasteurizing honey changes it properties making it go from a “Low GI” sweetener to a “High GI” sweetener. After learning this I was anxious to learn what else made this sweetener so special compared to regular honey.
The most informative website that I found is called Benefits of Honey (www.benefits-of-honey.com). And here is a summary of some of the ways raw honey can be used for our health that I read from this site:
- Honey is a natural energy booster – Try it before your workout or use it instead of an energy drink.
- Honey is a great immunity system builder – It’s antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties can help with digestion and can help you stay healthy and fight disease.
- Honey is Anti-Cancer – It contains carcinogen-preventing and anti-tumour properties.
- Honey is a natural ailment remedy for many ailments – Some of these ailments include athlete’s foot, arthritis pain, hangovers, sleeplessness and sore throats. I’m sure most of you are interested in the theory behind the hangovers so I’ll elaborate on that one. According to this site, the natural sugars speed up oxidation of alcohol by the liver, which acts as a “sobering” agent. I haven’t tried is personally but it’s worth a shot next time I’m hurting after a night of partying!
- Honey can help with weight loss – There are a few ways listed that honey can be used as a weight loss tool on this site, but the one I found the most interesting was the Hibernation Diet. In fact, the main aspect of this diet is something I’ve incorporated into my own daily regime. Every night before bed for the last 6 months or so, I’ve been taking 1st of raw honey most nights before bed.
According to this website:
“Natural honey when taken prior to bed is believed to be able to fuel the liver, speed up fat-burning metabolism, ease stress hormones and help us get a better night’s sleep. This oldest natural sweetener also contains a wide variety of vitamins, including vitamins B6, B1, B2 and B5, and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and zinc, anti-oxidants and amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.”
“due to its 1:1 ratio of fructose to glucose, honey is the most ideal food that can provide a fuelling mechanism for the body at night, keeping blood sugar levels balanced and letting your recovery hormones get on with burning fat stores.”
I was a little skeptical about eating sugar before bed at first but so far it definitely hasn’t made me gain weight and I am still steadily losing weight. I’m not sure if the honey itself has anything to do with it, and maybe it’s all in my head. But I haven’t felt bloated in the morning on the nights that I’ve taken 1 tsp of honey before bed, despite what else I’ve eaten that day. As well, my morning workouts always seem to be energetic and effective, so it’s definitely not hurting me! One other thing I do like about this is that some evenings I have a sweet craving and taking a tsp of this makes it go away immediately!
I also put a tsp of raw honey in my Plain Greek Yogurt which is something I try to eat every week day.
So where can you buy raw honey? Well so far the most convenient place I’ve found is Longos. The brand I use is called Dutchman’s Gold. But don’t make the mistake that I made the first time…make sure the label says RAW. The first bottle I bought was from a Farmer’s Market in Lindsay. The label said “unpasteurized” but the honey it was very clear, and according to my research raw honey should be cloudy, not clear. So after I paid $10 for the bottle I decided to do some more reading and I finally emailed the manufacturer asking if the honey I bought was indeed raw. He told me that the honey I bought was not raw, but was unpasteurized – it had been heated only enough to be filtered, but not enough to be to reach the temperature of what would be considered pasteurized. I’m sure this honey still had many health benefits but the heating and filtering it likely removed many of the healthy enzymes and nutrients that we look for when buying a raw honey.
So the point is, buying true raw honey does require a little education on the product. The raw honey I buy is always solid. From what I have read, raw honey crystallizes quickly and this is a sign that this is true, raw, unpasteurized honey. Since the honey I buy is usually already crystallized, I heat it by placing the bottle with it’s lid off in a pot of water on the stove and heating it until it liquefies, being careful not to let the water boil or to overheat it.
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