We crave sugar. Simply put: It’s the way we are programmed. Sugar provides us with fuel. Not only is sugar a fast form of fuel, but it’s an inexpensive ingredient as well. Consider how many candy bars you can buy for $5 compared to vegetables. Sugar also is highly addicting, so once you have a little, you crave more and more. This food focus is all about swapping out refined sugars for a more natural sweetener.
Honey is Mother Nature’s sugar. This sticky, sweet liquid is produced by honey bees and is available in hundreds of different varieties. The flower type, location, and climate all play a role in the finished honey’s color, flavor, and viscosity. Honey may be floral, herbal, fruity, or citrusy depending on the particular flower in which the bee collects its nectar, but characteristically honey is sweet. It’s because of this and its lack of processing that honey is the go-to natural sweetener for healthful foodies.
The Natural Benefits of Honey
Honey truly is “liquid gold,” containing trace enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. These contribute to many health benefits. Check it out! It’s:
- Cardio-protective (heart health promoting)
- Antihypertensive (blood pressure lowering)
- Antifungal and Antibacterial
- An Antioxidant
- Immune boosting
When hunting for the best honey, it’s always best to go for raw and organic whenever possible. Just like fruits and vegetables, the nutrient profile diminishes upon high heat and pasteurization. While raw and organic honey may be expensive, this is definitely a case of quality over quantity. When it comes to quantity, you don’t need too much! Ultimately, we must remember that while honey has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar, your body still processes it like sugar. Your body reaps the health benefits of honey most when consumed in small amounts.
Tips for Incorporating Honey into Your Diet
In Cooking: Replace half the refined sugar in your sauce, salad dressing or glaze recipe with honey.
In Baking: Substitute 2/3 cup honey for every 1 cup of sugar; decrease the liquids in the recipe by ¼ cup; add ¼ teaspoon baking soda to cut acidity; and reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sources: National Honey Board, Mercola.com, and HuffingtonPost.