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Healthy Dish

Savor the Natural Sweetness of Pure Honey

Even our resident low-carb expert can't get enough honey -- the pure, natural stuff, that is. Here's why it really can be considered a health food.

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I may be a low-carb guy, but I love honey. I think it’s a superfood, and I usually have five different kinds in my house at any given time.

As you probably know, I’ve written a lot over the years about the dangers of sugar and starch and the need to moderate our carb intake. So how could I possibly recommend honey, which is, after all, a sugar?

First off, let me say that if you’re in the middle of a sugar detox, honey is not for you (nor is any other kind of sugar). And if you’re particularly sugar- sensitive (i.e., your blood sugar and insulin go skyrocketing at the first whiff of chocolate cake), honey may not be such a good idea.

But for people with more flexible metabolisms who can handle a little sugar here and there, especially in the context of a basically healthy low-glycemic, high-fiber diet, it’s fine. If you’re one of those folks, and you want to use an occasional sweetener that isn’t stevia, xylitol, or erythritol, then honey—raw, unfiltered, virtually unprocessed, and preferably organic—is one of your best options.

Real, unfiltered, raw honey contains a complex mix of enzymes, amino acids, sugars, and other compounds, which—as in the case of Manuka honey—may have additional antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial effects.

Speaking of Manuka honey, there’s no doubt that it has all kinds of bioactive compounds with antimicrobial properties, but almost all the research I’ve seen is about its ability to help with wound healing when applied topically. I haven’t found much that supports its high price tag if you’re using it for food. On the other hand, it does contain a healthy amount of helpful plant chemicals, and the folks in New Zealand or Australia, where it comes from, are serious about certification. So if you’ve got the money to spend, it might provide some benefits beyond ordinary high-quality honey. I just don’t know for sure.

Personally, I stick to local, organic, honey of all kinds. And I try to use it only when there’s also a lot of fat in the dish—fat significantly depresses any elevation in blood sugar you might get from honey alone.

make it!

 

(Photo: Pornchai Mittongtare)

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