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Amazing Benefits of Honey (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Amazing Benefits of Honey (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

When a cup of tea or a piece of toast is in need of some sweetness, honey often does the trick. This deliciously sweet and sticky substance produced by bees can offer you more health benefits than you might expect, and it’s actually been used for centuries for its claimed healing properties.

Despite the fact that honey is just a natural form of simple sugar, it’s possible to use it strategically to support a healthy weight and improve your health overall. So if you thought that sugar was really all that bad for you, think again.

Skeptical, but curious to find out more? Here’re how this natural sweetener can help you become healthier.

1. It helps regulate your blood sugar.

Honey is a simple sugar, but research has shown that it’s more beneficial for the body than table sugar (for healthy adults at least–perhaps not for diabetics). During the honey-making process, the bees divide the honey molecules into glucose and fructose, which our bodies can directly absorb for a gentler impact on blood sugar levels. With table sugar (sucrose), however, our bodies have to work to separate the molecules before using it as energy, causing blood sugar levels to get a bigger jolt.

2. It can promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut.

Research has shown that swapping out table sugar for honey can help to prevent the harmful effects of bad bacteria in the intestine by providing probiotics that increase good bacteria. To get the full benefit of honey’s gut bacteria balancing power, however, you’ll need to select a type of raw honey with the least amount of processing. Heating, filtering and processing honey eliminates the enzymes and nutrients that make it such a functional food for health.

3. It may improve brain function.

Although there’s very little research to back it up at the moment, raw honey is known to contain naturally active compounds that can enhance memory and lower anxiety. In a study on postmenopausal women who were given tualang honey as a supplement, results showed improvements in immediate memory. Despite these findings, more scientifically rigorous research is still needed to determine with more precision how honey really impacts the brain and nervous system.

4. It can be used to soothe a sore throat or cough.

Honey has long been used as a popular home remedy for the common cold because of its natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. In a study conducted on children aged two and up with respiratory tract infections, two teaspoons of honey taken orally before bedtime was shown to have helped reduce nighttime coughing and promote better sleep. Although safe for most adults and children over one year old, honey should never be given to babies (due to concerns of botulism).

5. It can help you get a better night’s sleep.

If you find that you never quite feel rested when it’s time to get up in the morning, try drinking some milk or herbal tea with honey before bed. Consuming a bit of honey prior to hitting the hay will cause a steady rise in insulin along with a mood-boosting release of serotonin, which is then turned into melatonin–the hormone responsible for sleep regulation. Your brain also uses quite a lot of energy when you sleep, so a small amount of honey may help improve your of sleep quality.

6. It can give you an energy boost.

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy, and at 17 grams per tablespoon, honey can give you a dense hit of simple carbs in the morning when you need to wake up, before an intense workout, or any time of the day when you feel a bit of a slump. You likely won’t need more than a tablespoon. Honey doesn’t have any protein, fat or fiber to it, so stick to a very small portion to avoid insulin spikes that could cause you to crash later on. It does, however, have as many as 80 valuable nutrients to offer–including vitamins A, C, D, E, K and all the B-complex plus essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and others.

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7. It can aid in the healing process of wounds and burns.

For non-severe burns and wounds of the skin, topical application of honey to the affected area may help it heal faster and more effectively. It turns out that honey’s acidity, hydrogen peroxide content, osmotic effect, nutritional and antioxidant contents, stimulation of immunity, and other compounds work together to promote new tissue growth and minimize scarring. As long as a burn or wound is mild enough not to require medical treatment from a professional, honey may be used as a safe, effective and all natural healing remedy.

8. It encourages you to cut down on table sugar so that you can lose or maintain weight.

Per tablespoon, honey is about 64 calories while standard sucrose (a.k.a. table sugar) is about 48 calories. Yikes, there’re more calories in honey than in regular sugar! But it’s not all bad news. In fact, honey is much sweeter than regular sugar, meaning that you need less of it than you would if you used sugar. If you were to go by sweetness rather than by the tablespoon, you’d most likely end up consuming less calories by choosing honey over sugar, which is great for anyone who’s looking to shed a few pounds or avoid gaining any.

How to Incorporate the Benefits of Honey Into Your Diet

Keep in mind that raw honey is best for its rich nutrition, and when shopping around for specific brands, make sure to go for the type that is extremely dark in color. The darker the honey, the less processing it’s been through and the higher its nutritional calue.

Honey is more of a condiment or an ingredient you add to foods to make them taste better. Check out the list below for a few creative and delicious ways to liven up your current meals and snacks with honey.

(Note: The first three recipes require heating the honey in order to cook with it, which may destroy some of its nutrients. If you want to leave all of its nutritional content intact, try the last two recipes, which don’t require heating the honey.)

1. Honey Roasted Butternut Squash

    Here’s a sweet way you can use honey to get yourself eating more vegetables (even though butternut squash actually belongs to the fruit family).

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb butternut squash, cut into cubes
    • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions:

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    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cubed butternut squash and the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently to coat all the cubes. Spread the cubes out on a baking sheet with parchment paper and roast them in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes until they turn lightly brown and are soft when poked with a fork.

    2. Grilled Honey Garlic Salmon

      When it comes to cooking up a few salmon fillets, you can experiment with different toppings for a nice burst of flavor. Natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup make a perfect addition to this healthy, omega-3-rich fish!

      Ingredients:

      • 4 salmon fillets
      • 4 tablespoons butter
      • 4 tablespoons honey
      • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
      • Sea salt to taste

      Directions:

      Preheat your oven to medium-high heat on its grill or broil setting. Cook the butter in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until the foam disappears and it changes to a light brown color. Add the honey, garlic and lemon juice, stirring it all in for about a minute. Remove the skillet from the stovetop and pour half of the mixture out into a glass bowl to save for later.

      Place the salmon fillets skin side down in the skillet with the remaining mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they turn a golden color. Remove the skillet and transfer it to the oven to grill or broil the salmon for about 6 minutes. The top layer of the salmon should flake away when it’s done. Transfer them to plates, drizzle with the remaining mixture from the bowl, and season with salt and parsley.

      3. Honey Roasted Almonds

        Nuts make a perfectly healthy and filling snack almost any time of the day. For those who love a little something that’s both sweet and salty, roasting your own nuts with honey will make them taste like candy.

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        Ingredients:

        • 3 cups raw almonds
        • 4 tablespoons honey
        • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
        • 1/2 teaspoon salt
        • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

        Directions:

        Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the butter first in the microwave (if you’re using it instead of oil) and then mix in the honey. In a large bowl, mix the almonds with the honey and butter/oil mixture until they’re full coated. Spread them out on the baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes.

        Remove the almonds from the oven to stir and flip as many over as you can before returning them to the oven for another 10 minutes until they turn a golden brown color. After the baking, throw the almonds in a bowl and give them a thorough stir with the salt and sugar.

        4. Frozen Banana & Honey Smoothie

          One of the easiest ways to get the full benefits of honey without using heat is by using it to sweeten up your smoothies. Even if your smoothie is already pretty sweet, a tablespoon or two honey will probably make it taste even better.

          Ingredients:

          • 3 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
          • 1/4 cup almond butter
          • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
          • 2 tablespoons honey
          • 2 dates (optional)
          • Cinnamon to taste (optional)

          Directions:

          Blend all ingredients together in a blender until they’re smooth and creamy. You can add extra ice, water, or more almond milk to get your desired consistency.

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          5. Greek Yogurt with Mango Fruit, Granola and Honey

          When the weather's nice, I love having fruit, greek yogurt, honey and some crunchy granola for breakfast.

            A small amount of honey makes a great morning energizer. By combining honey with some protein and fiber, you’ll have a complete breakfast that will help you get through those early hours leading up to lunch.

            Ingredients:

            • 1/2 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
            • 1/2 cup fresh mango fruit, chopped
            • 1/3 cup granola
            • 1 tablespoon honey

            Directions:

            Scoop out the yogurt into a bowl and top it with the mango and granola. Drizzle the honey over everything, serve and enjoy!

            Honey is really one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular foods. Here’s hoping that we can keep the bee population healthy as we head into the future–not just for the honey, but more importantly for being the number one species we rely on to cross-pollinate crops that make it possible for us to grow a wide variety of plant-based foods.

            Featured photo credits: Roasted butternut squash, grilled salmon, roasted almonds, banana smoothie, yogurt with fruit and granola.

            Featured photo credit: Oksana Shufrych via shutterstock.com

            More by this author

            Elise Moreau

            Elise helps desk workers lead healthier lifestyles. Visit her website on her profile to get a free list of health hacks.

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            Last Updated on July 2, 2020

            Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally)

            Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally)

            There is very little in life as annoying or distracting as neck pain. Most people find that neck pain is temporary. What can you do if your neck pain seems chronic or if it comes and goes with no obvious source?

            Whether you have simply slept on your neck wrong or you are working late, hunched over a keyboard half the night, neck pain is, well, a pain in the neck!

            What most people are unaware of is that there are little known hacks that can help you find relief from neck pain fast and naturally. This means no pills or expensive exercise equipment to buy.

            How can you get relief from neck pain?

            There are several easy steps to follow to find the perfect hack for solving your neck pain fast and easy.

            How Did I End Up With This Pain in the Neck?

            Neck pain often has an I-was-looking-right-at-it source that we don’t recognize at first glance. Once you identify the source of the pain, you can take the best corrective measure, or several measures if need be!

            Ask yourself these questions to find a possible source:

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            • Do you spend much of the day sitting (desk job, typing, etc.)?
            • How old are your mattress and pillow?
            • How much exercise do you work into an average day?
            • How do you manage stress?
            • Have you been injured or in an accident (no matter how small) lately?

            Perhaps one last question to ask yourself might be, “Is my pain a regular occurrence, or is my neck pain something that has just cropped up?

            Once you know the answers to these questions, you can start searching for answers.

            Remedies for Neck Pain

            Once you know the source, try tapping into one (or several) of these solutions to start healing your neck pain now.

            1. Everyday Activities

            One of the important factors with neck pain will be your everyday activities. Other than an injury or accident, one of the largest factors for neck pain includes working overtime in an office and the stress that work entails[1].

            Due to the coronavirus, many people find themselves working from home, in kitchens, basements, using a barstool, and/or other equipment that was not designed for humans to spend hours on end, typing and looking at a computer screen.

            If you find that your neck pain has occurred during the past few months due to a job change, or if you suddenly began working from home, your issue may be due to ergonomics. Invest in an adjustable office chair to help make your workspace more neck-friendly.

            2. Age of Mattress and Pillow

            The age of your mattress and pillow should also be considered. Pillows, on average, should be changed every 3 years, and a mattress every 7-10 years. No matter how good or comfortable you think these items are, the truth is that they are hurting your neck and back with a lack of support.

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            A good mattress is well worth the investment, and pillows are always on sale, as well as wallet-friendly. If you haven’t tried them, a water-filled pillow can be comfortable for many people.

            3. Exercise/Movement/Stretching

            It’s that old exercise question that no one wants to hear. This time around, it has been difficult for many people to get in good exercise since they have been housebound due to the quarantine. There are plenty of ways to get in some good, old-fashioned exercise.

            Stretching exercises are even more important than before since many people do not get enough movement while sitting at home. There are hundreds of at-home exercise, dance, and yoga videos that require little to no equipment, so even if you’re a beginner, give it a go.

            4. Stress and Stress Management

            Stress is a hidden danger that robs more people of health than even most doctors realize. While everyone has stress, not everyone recognizes it, nor do they have a means of managing it. Exercise is one of the best ways to release stress, with meditation and yoga being the best ways to manage and relieve stress. All of these will remove tightness in the muscles and relieve neck pain.

            5. Accident or Injury

            If you have been involved in an accident or injured yourself lately (falling down, or having something fall on you, for example) and your neck pain began after this incident, you should speak with your doctor about this as soon as possible.

            6. On-Going Problem or Sudden Occurrence

            Finally, if your neck pain is something that has occurred recently, it could simply be that you slept on it wrong or turned your neck too hard. That will make this a very temporary condition. You can try some easy stretches for pain relief .

            An on-going problem, however, might respond better to some other alternative methods, including:

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            • Slowly moving and stretching your neck. Do not move too quickly or too far. Roll your head from side to side, shoulder to shoulder, to the front and to the back.
            • Ice packs work well for some people, while heat works best for others.
            • Be aware of how you use your cell phone or tablet. If you keep your neck bent downward for too long to look at it, you can develop an annoying pain called text-neck or tech-neck. Take breaks and look up to stretch those neck muscles.
            • Long hours driving can also be hard on the neck. Look from side to side as far as you can, as well as up and down to prevent a stiff neck.

             

            Still Have Tight Neck Muscles? 3 Tips for Finding Relief

            When tight neck muscles are not responding to the typical heat, ice, or massage treatments, you might want to give the following a try:

            1. Gua Sha

            This is an ancient Chinese practice that might seem a bit odd, but it works for many people. In this practice, a trained individual uses a spoon or other object and makes short strokes down the neck. It is believed that poor blood circulation causes it to become stagnant, if you will, and blocks the positive energy needed for life, called qi.

            Fresh blood will indeed allow oxygen and nutrients to feed the tissues in a given area, and one study found that gua sha worked where traditional methods, such as heat therapy, did not[2].

            2. Swimming

            You probably know that swimming is a terrific low-impact exercise that works wonders for those with back and knee pain, but did you know that it also works well for neck pain and tight muscles? It helps if the water is tepid and not cold, but even just floating on your back can offer tremendous relief since most of the body weight is suspended by the buoyancy of water.

            3. Chiropractic Massage

            Not your typical day spa massage, chiropractic massage is performed under the guidance of a chiropractor. A trained massage therapist will still do the massage, but this time, the chiropractor will have discussed your neck pain and any problems you might be having with them. Many people have found real relief from neck pain through chiropractic massage.

            The Best Treatment for Neck Pain

            When you need to find relief from neck pain and nothing you have tried previously seems to give you more than a few minutes of relief, spending some time with a chiropractor often times can fix this issue, and it doesn’t often return if you follow a healthy lifestyle.

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            I’m certain that many of you are thinking about those awful videos with those loud cracking noises you’ve seen on social media, or you are recalling a news story which might have suggested that allowing a chiropractor anywhere near your neck might be a health hazard[3]. Nothing could be further from the truth.

            You should try the other suggestions in this article before you head off to the chiropractor, but when all else fails, don’t let neck pain nag you day in and day out. Take steps to make an appointment, and you will be surprised at the results.

            What Can a Chiropractor Do for Neck Pain?

            Many people mistakenly believe that the only technique a chiropractor will use is a neck adjustment. Chiropractors are trained in a variety of methods that are designed to help you find the pain relief you are seeking.

            A few of the methods a chiropractor might use include:

            • Cervical Manual Traction
            • Flexion-Distraction
            • Cervical Mobilization
            • Ultrasound
            • Cervical Drop Technique
            • Trigger Point Therapy

            There are many more options, but your chiropractor should explain to you which techniques s/he intends to use and why[4]

            The Bottom Line

            If neck pain wreaks havoc in your life regularly, the best way to stop it is to identify the source and attack it from that angle.

            Getting plenty of exercises, having a proper posture, and buying an office chair that provides plenty of support, as well as a regular stretching program, will keep your neck strong and flexible for many years to come.

            More Tips on Healing Neck Pain

            Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

            Reference

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