I love honey; I would even consider myself a somewhat “sommelier” of honey and as with wine it comes in just as many varieties, according to region, flora and temperature. I love its sticky, fragrant texture and would, if it didn’t seem too kinky, smear it all over my body. Actually that is where the scientific and alternative community concur, it is frequently used in the treatment of skin ulcers where nothing else will work. In recent years a lot more research has gone into the healing properties of honey and according Ronald E. Fessenden M.D., M.P.H Co-author of“The Honey Revolution: Restoring the Health of Future Generations”, honey regulates and stabilizes blood sugar. Honey contains both fructose and glucose, which is required for the formation of most of the glycogen made and stored in the liver. It’s this action that gives honey it’s amazing healing powers. It aids in digestion, insomnia, coughs and respiratory diseases, helps improve skin condition and much more.
Nevertheless, the myth that heated honey is toxic or even carcinogenic has been around for a while now and I wanted to look into this a little further. Firstly, because every time I bake a cake I have a little gnawing feeling of guilt as to whether I am ever so slightly poisoning my body, and secondly, I like to make sure my information is as accurate as possible.
Sanjeev Rastogi author of “Ayurvedic Science of Food and Nutrition”, found research showed heating honey at low temperature (50°C-70°C) actually increases the anti-oxidant properties of honey. At high temperatures, research has shown that taste and healing qualities of honey break down, but no toxicity or carcinogenic qualities have been found.
This evidence is supported by Ross Conrad the author of “Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture” who notes:
“The idea is that heat destroys enzymes. And basically any time you are going to heat honey the enzymes are going to get destroyed and as a result dilute a lot of the medicinal value of the honey. Raw and unfiltered honey has incredible antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is very, very healing in many ways. That said, there is no evidence that heat-treated honey is actually toxic”.
Overall, still a much better option than sugar and I feel better now about using it in my recipes. It is worth noting even honey can be overdosed on, not if you’re swathing your body in it, but definitely if you are ingesting it. Also, while we are clearing up myths, the idea that honey doesn’t go off and that jars of the nectar have been found in ancient tombs – still full of gooey goodness – isn’t so, as the same research on heating honey has also shown it to loose its medicinal values over time.
And, on a final note according to Lindsay Duncan N.D., C.N. celebrity nutritionist on the Dr. OZ show, 1 tsp of honey before going to bed at night will help to raise our insulin slightly and allow tryptophan (the sleepy chemical) to enter out brains more easily and therefore allow for a much better night’s sleep.