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Natural Honey

Honey is a naturally occurring syrup, which contains glucose, fructose, vitamins and minerals and is known to have many health benefits. It is produced by the honey bees by the nectar of various flowers that they pollinate. In the ancient times, it was used as an effective medicine for good health and was also considered an effective moisturizer. It was once used as currency, for paying for commodities.Even today, honey has not lost its significance and is still equally valued, and in many cultures is the first food given to an infant.

Humans have been collecting honey for as long as 10,000 years. First, with the help of smoke, the bees are forced to leave the hive. Then the honey combs are removed from the hive. The combs are strategically cut with a special knife and the honey is derived. Further the honey obtained is filtered for pollen grains, bee stings and other impurities. The pure honey is then sealed and packed in air tight bottles. As honey has very low moisture content, therefore, it can be stored for many years and even centuries.

Honey has multiple uses associated with it. It may be used in cooking, baking, as a bread spread or as a sweetening agent in beverages. Mead, an alcoholic beverage is primarily made from honey and is referred to as honey wine or honey beer. It is also used for various medicinal purposes. According to a survey conducted by the Food and Agricultural Organization, China, Turkey and The US are the top producers of honey all over the world.
 

Honey and Its Cultural Significance
Honey finds may references in the Old Testament. In the book of Exodus, there is a famous scene, which describes the Promised land, as a land flowing with milk and honey. Also, in King James version of the Bible, the word Honey is mentioned more than 73 times. It is a symbol of New year in the Jewish tradition. The traditional Jew meal on this auspicious day comprises of apple slices dipped in honey. They are eaten to bring sweetness in the new year.

The Buddhists also have strong regard for this golden fluid. The Buddhists celebrate Madhu Purnima to commemorate Buddha's making peace with his deciples. On this day the Buddhists give honey to the Monks, depicting the monkey's gift to Buddha on his stay in the jungle.

In ancient Rome, honey was used instead of gold to pay taxes. A Greek bride was supposed to follow a tradition, in which she had to dip her fingers in honey and make a cross before entering her new home. This symbolized sweetness in her married life. The holy Qu'ran too lists the benefits of this magical syrup.

 

Types of Honey

Honey may be classified into the following types:

  • Blended: This the most common form of honey available in the market. It is often a combination of two or more varieties of Honey differing in floral source, colour, density, etc.

  • Mono-Floral Honey: This type of honey is derived, when the bees collect nectar from only one type of flower. Various varieties of mono-floral honeys have different flavours. This is the best type of honey. Beekeepers try to make sure that the bees collect nectar from one particular flower only. Some examples of such honey include orange blossom, eucalyptus, buckwheat, etc.

  • Poly-Floral Honey: It is the honey, which is produced, when the honey bees collect nectar from more than one flower. They collect nectar from different flowers and the honey we get does not have a distinct taste

  • Comb Honey: If the honey is taken straight from the combs, this type of honey is termed as the comb type honey

  • Liquid Honey: This type of honey is prepared by using a honey extractor, through which honey is extracted by applying a centrifugal force

  • Granulated Honey: This honey is derived by mixing nine ounces of liquid honey with one part of finely granulated honey. It is then stored at a temperature of 57 degrees to make it rigid

  • Chunk Honey: It is made by first placing comb honey in a jar and then pouring liquid honey around it

  • Honeydew Honey: Sometimes, the bees collect secretions of other nectar sucking insects and deposit them in the hive. This honey is termed as honeydew honey. This honey is stronger flavoured than the normal nectar honey.
 

Benefits of Honey

  • Honey has, since time immemorial been associated with many miraculous healing properties. It is considered as an effective medicine to cure coughs. Its is more effective if mixed with ginger juice, as it helps cure cough faster
  • Various studies show that regular consumption of honey raises antioxidant levels in the body
  • It also acts as a soothing balm, and its antimicrobial effects help in quick healing of wounds, burns, eczema, and other bacterial and fungal infections
  • Honey is also an ideal remedy for stomach aches and during dehydration
  • It also proves beneficial in repairing the damaged cells of the body
  • It provides a number of vital vitamins and minerals to the body
  • Honey also helps in curing allergy and soothes the burning and the itching sensations caused by the allergy
  • Regular intake of honey also works wonder for the skin and hair, as it helps in flushing out the toxins from the body, thus cleansing the system
  • Plenty of face creams and lotions use honey as it has a natural nourishing, bleaching, astringent and antiseptic effect on the skin
  • Honey when directly applied to the skin, makes it soft and supple. For ages, the Japanese women apply honey as a moisturizer on their hands, to keep them soft and beautiful
  • Consumption of honey also makes the breath smell sweet and fresh. The Egyptian women chewed pills made of honey and spices to sweeten their breath. In ancient Rome a high-priced semisolid paste, called "honey-mint," was used for bad breath.