Honey to Sweeten Our Lives
Honey consists of a sweet and viscous fluid produced by insects, including bees, from the nectar of flowers or secretions of living parts of plants.
Humans have consumed honey since prehistoric times. It has been found in Egyptian excavations more than 2000 years old, and there are biblical references.
The engagement of humans in the process of exploiting the honeycombs of beehives is known as beekeeping.
Its world production is more than 1.2 billion tons annually. The main producing and exporting countries are China, Argentina, and Spain, the United States, and the European Union, their leading importers.
Composition of Honey
100 grams of honey provides 300 calories and 75 grams of carbohydrates. One tablespoon of honey contains 9-12 grams of carbohydrates and approximately 65 calories.
40% of the total weight of honey is fructose, and the rest is glucose, which is why it is sweeter than table sugar. It has only small traces of vitamins and minerals, but it does contain several antioxidants.
Its relative content of glucose and fructose can vary considerably, and its glycemic index has a variable range within the healthy. That’s why its sugars can be gradually absorbed into the bloodstream.
High glycemic index foods lead to a rapid increase in blood glucose and cause the release of insulin into our body as a result of the intense stimulation of the pancreas.
18% of honey is water. Its composition is 2% of minerals, vitamins, pollen, and certain amino acids. The vitamins present in honey are B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid. The minerals include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc in small amounts.
Honey in Health
In moderate amounts, one tablespoon a day can be taken as a sweetener by those on a weight loss diet.
Honey has excellent health benefits, it does not have a significant caloric increase, and it is healthier than regular sugar.
It has enzymes capable of helping digestion, and one of the most outstanding nutritional facts of honey is its antioxidant value and its antibacterial action. Besides, it does not contain fat or cholesterol.
It is recommended to consume honey at temperatures not higher than 200° because it begins to lose beneficial properties when some of its healthy elements vaporize.
Honey reduces C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation. It lowers the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. On the other hand, it raises the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol and reduces homocysteine, another blood marker related to diseases.
Therapeutic Properties of Honey
Honey has several therapeutic properties. It can be used externally because of its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties as it helps to heal and prevent infection in wounds or superficial burns.
It is also used in cosmetics, such as in creams, facial cleaning masks, and tonics, due to its astringent and softening qualities.
It is used for the symptomatic relief of colds and can relieve coughs. Its sweetness and syrupy texture soothe sore throats, but its antioxidant content and antimicrobial effect also play a role.
It remains in good condition for long periods thanks to its high concentration of carbohydrates. It kills bacteria by osmotic lysis. Airborne yeast cannot thrive in honey due to its low humidity.
Honey promotes the production of phosphates that help to regulate the heart rate, which has positive effects on the heart. It is healing because bees provide an enzyme called glucose oxidase, and when applied to wounds, this enzyme produces the local release of hydrogen peroxide.
Contraindications of Honey
Honey is not recommended for children under one year old because there is a danger of developing botulism. When mixed with a child’s non-acidic digestive juices, it creates an ideal environment for the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores, which produce toxins.
They are one of the few bacteria that survive in honey. However, these spores are harmless to adults due to their stomach acidity. The digestive system of young children is not sufficiently developed to eliminate them.
How to Chose the Type of Honey
The composition of the honey depends very much on the environment in which the bees harvested their nectar. The antioxidant content of different types of honey may vary. But generally speaking, darker kinds of honey are better than lighter ones.
For those who are healthy and active, and have no need to lose weight, consuming honey will not cause any harm, and even less so if we compare it in terms of health with sugar.
In general, the total daily percentage of caloric requirements provided from simple sugars should not exceed 10%. Therefore, 200 or 300 calories of honey are right in healthy people.
A proper diet to follow is to consume one or two spoonfuls of honey in the morning with fruit, skimmed yogurt, or whole grains. At midday, one or two spoonfuls with fruit snacks or in baked wholemeal products. And another spoonful at dinner, before bed.
Honey and Diabetes Mellitus
Those who keep stable values of their glycemia can consume bee honey as an option to sweeten in substitution of sugar, but always under the control of their doctor and maintain strict supervision of their glycemia.
They should consume it in small quantities and always in the substitution of other carbohydrates. People with diabetes with variable blood glycemia are restricted to the guidance and advice of their doctor.
Honey in Our Kitchen
Honey is mainly used in bakery, as an accompaniment to wholemeal bread or toast, especially in breakfast and snacks, and as a sweetener in various drinks, such as tea or coffee.
Recipes with Honey to Sweeten Our Lives
Turkey with Honey Sauced Gravy
1 medium-size turkey
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup of white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
- Wash and clean the turkey.
- Prepare a marinade with honey, soy sauce, and white wine, adding pepper to taste.
- Bathe the turkey with the marinade.
- Let it marinate overnight.
- Bake the turkey for 40 minutes at 350° and check the cooking.
- Bathe the turkey with the sauce every 15 minutes and when the skin has turned golden brown, turn off the oven and rest for 1 hour before slicing or serving it whole if you prefer.
To make the gravy sauce for the turkey
- Remove any liquids from the roasting pan and scrape the bottom.
- Put the juices in a pot, add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch diluted in 2 tablespoons of water, season to taste, and if you are short of liquid, you can add a little chicken broth.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
1/2 pound of chicken breast
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of white wine
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Salt to taste
For the Sweet and Sour Sauce
2/3 cup water
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon of rice or wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- Cut the chicken into relatively large cubes. Smaller than a bite.
- Do the same with the onions and peppers.
- Chop the garlic very fine.
- Put the egg in a bowl, beat it, add the chicken in pieces and add a pinch of salt.
- Then add the spoonful of white wine, the soy and mix well.
- You can let it marinate in the fridge for 4 hours to a whole day. But if you don’t want to, you can proceed with the recipe without waiting.
- Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the marinade and mix well.
- Put it in the freezer so that the preparation rests while making the sweet and sour sauce that will go with the chicken.
- To do this, put all the sauce ingredients, except the cornstarch, in a frying pan.
- Heat while stirring frequently. Let it thicken for about 10 minutes and set aside.
- Take the chicken breasts out of the freezer. Remove the excess cornstarch and fry each piece in plenty of boiling oil.
- When they are golden brown, remove them and place them over some paper towels.
- In a wok or large pan, add a tablespoon of oil and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, and when it begins to take on color, add the peppers, onion and a little salt.
- Mix well while cooking for 3 more minutes.
- It is time to add the sweet and sour sauce.
- Also, add a teaspoon of cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water to thicken the sauce.
- Mix well and leave to cook for a couple more minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the chicken. Mix all the ingredients again and serve immediately
1 1/2 pounds of salmon
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil.
- Place the salmon loin in the center of the tray.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a small bowl mix the garlic, honey, lemon juice, and virgin olive oil. Blend well until the honey is dissolved and coat the salmon evenly with this mixture.
- Place the oregano sprigs over the salmon.
- Fold the sides of the aluminum foil completely covering the salmon and forming a kind of envelope.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked.
- Serve hot.