One thing I make sure I never run out of is locally produced, raw honey. This is my go-to sweetener for almost everything as it offers some potential health benefits over regular, refined sugar. Additionally, purchasing it from a nearby apiary supports local farmers and minimizes the impact on the environment caused by imported sugar. I put it on my oatmeal every morning, sweeten my tea, and use it in recipes that call for sugar, particularly Asian dishes (just keep in mind that when baking, honey cannot be directly substituted for granular sugar as it alters the moisture content).
We all know that honey is produced by honeybees as a source of food. When they return to the hive, bees create honey from regurgitated nectar, and pollen collected on their bodies also makes its way into the mix. This pollen can influence the taste of the honey, depending on the flower from which it comes, and has been implicated in providing many health benefits, including allergy management and cancer prevention.
There have been no peer-reviewed studies that have conclusively linked commercial honey to the numerous health benefits with which it is associated, but it is also important to remember that many of these benefits are lost during the pasteurization process. Any honey you purchase in a grocery store is required to be pasteurized by heating to high temperatures, and this is purported to destroy the phytochemicals that raw honey contains. This is another reason to purchase directly from your local apiary.
I introduced it into my daily diet last fall, when I first became a believer in the power of honey. I was astonished that my usually severe seasonal allergies were non-existent. But when I tested this again in the spring, I didn’t notice a difference in my allergies. They were as bad as ever. The person I bought the honey from said that the bees that produce it need to have pollinated exactly what you are allergic to, so perhaps that played a role, but it’s also just possible that honey has a negligible affect on allergies.
More studies need to be done on the benefits of raw honey specifically. It is proven to be an effective anti-microbial agent, however, and many use it to treat acne. Many consider it a better choice than refined sugar — and I do prefer unprocessed foods over processed — but at the end of the day, it is still mainly comprised of glucose and fructose.
Really, I just like the way it tastes :).