By Kirsten Nunez. When you think about it, honey is really interesting. It's produced by bees from flower nectar, and it's the only thing made by insects that humans are so eager to eat up. Yet, there are so many misconceptions about it. Wondering what's the deal with this sweet and sticky substance? And is honey good for you? Here are 6 popular myths about honey, all cleared up.
- Honey is Healthy: TRUE True, true, and true again. We can go for days about just how healthy honey is. It’s a naturally-produced product that bees produce and store, ensuring that they have food at all times. Honey is actually antibacterial and is used to protect the Queen Bee from disease. In humans, it plays a similar role; honey is great for boosting the immune system and even facilitating wound healing. It even benefits iron deficiency anemia, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Honey is also a super-inexpensive remedy for a pesky sore throat. It’s also not uncommon to find all-natural beauty recipes that use honey; when applied topically, it leaves the skin feeling soft and hydrated with a healthy glow.
- Honey is the Same Everywhere: FALSE Since bees produce honey from flower nectar, it will differ depending on the blossom type, climate and region. Even from season to season, it may change. Honey can also be light or dark in color - the latter is typically more intense and flavorful. Textures and thickness may also differ. Additionally, honey can be made from the nectar of one flower, or by many. Obviously, local honey in one area will be different than local honey grown elsewhere. Commercial honey may be more consistent, solely based on the fact that it was produced at a single location before being sent out to chain grocery stores.
- Honey’s Sugar Content Causes Cavities: TRUE Let’s backtrack and talk about how cavities form to begin with. When sugar is left on your teeth, the bacteria in your mouth feeds on it, leading to tooth decay. With that said, sugar from any food – healthy or not - can cause cavities. Regardless of what you’re eating, it’s important to practice good personal hygiene and regularly brush your teeth.
- Honey Can Replace White Sugar: TRUE While both can play the cavity-making game, honey trumps sugar when it comes to adding nutritional value to recipes. However, keep in mind that honey is much sweeter than sugar, so you’ll want to be cognizant of how much you use. For the first cup of sugar, use one cup of honey. From that point on, use 1/4-3/4 cup of honey for each cup of sugar, depending on your preferred sweetness.
- Honey Helps Allergies: FALSE Many people believe that consuming local, raw honey will help relieve allergies by slowly exposing the body to pollen allergens. While honey is beneficial for the immune system, a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology debunked it’s ability to ease allergies. Researchers split allergy sufferers into three groups: one that ate local, raw honey, one that ate commercial honey, and one that ate a placebo. Compared to the ones that didn’t consume honey, no significant relief difference was found in the ones that did. Regardless, there’s still a lot of debate over whether or not honey helps in this sense. Here’s one thing to remember: bees pollinate flowers, and most seasonal allergies come from weed, grass and trees. If you know that you’re specifically allergic to flowers, it won't hurt to see if honey works for you. Otherwise, honey might not be your answer.
- Honey Never Spoils: TRUE There’s a reason why worker bees seal off their honey for safekeeping – it can last forever. Since honey contains very little water, bacteria can’t survive (remember, it’s antibacterial). Plus, it has a pH of about 3-4.5, making it super acidic and an unwelcoming home for bacterial growth. History buffs will appreciate this tidbit: 3,000-year-old honey was found in King Tut’s tomb, and it’s still believed to edible!
The final verdict? Honey can play a pretty amazing role in living a healthy, wholesome life. Turns out Winnie the Pooh was on to something after all.