We're still celebrating National Honey Month, tea lovers! In part 1, we gave you an overview of what makes honey so special, and this week we want to blog its praises a bit more by pointing out some health benefits of the sweet stuff.
A natural sweetener
First up, something obvious: Honey is a great natural sweetener! Sure, you could stir your tea with a stick of sugarcane...but why wouldn't you just use honey, a wonderfully versatile sweetener that comes straight from the hive? Given that it's made with pollen and nectar collected by honeybees on their legs, it's almost literally the bee's knees. Honey is slightly sweeter than sugar, so you can use a bit less to sweeten up your tea, and depending which honey you choose, it can add a unique flavor profile to your favorite beverage. Honey is a great thickener for sauces, dressings, marinades and dips, and lends its moisture to a broad variety of recipes, even extending the shelf life of baked goods.
There might be a million ways to boost your energy in today's marketplace, but let's face it — honey is one of the first and the best. With 17 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon at just 64 calories, honey is the ideal source of fast fuel to feed your muscles. Sports nutritionists recommend consuming some carbohydrates before athletic activity for an energy boost, and honey is the sort of natural sweetener that's released into the system at a steady rate, avoiding an energy crash. During activity, honey can delay fatigue, and your method of usage can be as simple as putting a bit of honey into your water bottle! Finally, research shows that ingesting a combination of carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes after exercise is ideal for refueling and decreasing delayed-onset muscle soreness.
There's a good reason why honey is used by beauty industry leaders in lotions, soaps, and bubble baths! Honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture. Honey also has anti-microbial properties. We got this fall-themed beauty recipe for a "Harvest Pumpkin Exfoliating Mask" from the National Honey Board, and it just so happens to include green tea! You probably have some of that around your house, right?
Banish coughing with honey
Thick, sticky and sweet, honey has been used for centuries to relieve symptoms of the common cold. Sometimes it just takes time for your sore throat to abate, but in the meantime, the fact that honey can coat and soothe your throat is wonderful relief for irritating symptoms. Take a spoonful straight, stir it into tea to up your hydration level, and even try a dab in orange or grapefruit juice for additional vitamin C. Sore throats are caused by numerous viruses and bacteria, and always check with your doctor if you have a fever or symptoms that last more than a few days. And don't forget that honey should never be given to infants under one year of age -- honey can contain spores of bacterium that can germinate in an infant's immature digestive system, causing a rare but fatal illness that does not affect adults and children over 1 year old.
For more fascinating facts about honey and the most delicious-sounding recipes, we recommend visiting the National Honey Board. Next week we'll update you on the latest news regarding Colony Collapse Disorder and the importance of honey bees in our world that goes way beyond sweetening up your cuppa' tea. Cheers, tea lovers!