After almost 10 years as a beekeeper, I have heard just about every myth and misunderstanding there is about honey. Our farmer’s market booth has served as our opportunity to correct the misinformation. Raw, local honey can be an important ingredient in natural home healthcare, but there are some important things that everyone needs to know.
3 Misunderstandings About Honey
Here are three of the most common misconceptions we hear:
1. It’s a good sugar replacement in baking
The truth? Honey is not a health food when it is cooked. This is why we avoid buying pasteurized honey in the store. Around the world, most traditional medicine practices agree that heated honey has a negative effect on the human body. In the case of ayurveda, it is believed that honey heated over 60 degrees celsius (140 degrees fahrenheit) creates “ama.” Ama is a condition of mucus that is brought on by inflammation and toxicity. Heating honey can also reduce the antioxidant content and increase the glycemic index.
Knowing that pasteurized honey isn’t the best, savvy shoppers head to the farmer’s market each week in search of raw honey. This is wonderful! Unfortunately, many of those who buy this liquid gold then proceed to head home and bake a batch of muffins using honey instead of sugar as the sweetener. Baking with raw honey effectively pasteurizes it… making it the same dead and damaging food that we tried to avoid in the supermarket in the first place.
2. Only local honey is healthy
Honey that is local, raw, and collected in the correct season is one of the best things you can use for your allergies. Somehow this came to be translated into the common knowledge that only local honey is healthy for you. The truth is that any raw honey is healthy regardless of where it comes from. It will enter your bloodstream at a slower pace than processed sugar and keep your insulin levels from spiking. It can support your immune system, help fight illness, soothe a sore throat and much more.
What is best for you depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you want to use honey to help with your allergies you must choose only raw, local honey. (Find raw honey in your area here.)
3. Pregnant women should avoid eating raw honey
Another common misunderstanding I hear a lot is the idea that honey isn’t safe during pregnancy. We don’t give honey to children under the age of one – this is because of the concern over botulism spores. If botulism were in raw honey, it would not pose a concern for an adult digestive system. The spores cannot grow in honey and the toxins associated with botulism are only produced with it is reproducing and growing. The problem with young children is that their digestive systems are not mature enough to handle even botulism spores that aren’t growing.
The good news is that pregnant women should feel free to enjoy this healthy food. If there were any contamination, the spores would be destroyed in the mother’s digestive system long before there was ever any chance of them crossing the placenta.
Were you led to believe any of these common myths about honey? Share your info in the comments below!