Invigorating and antiseptic, honey is a food rich in nutritional properties. There are different types, each with particular characteristics and indications. Let’s find out together.
Honey is a food produced by bees from the nectar of plants. It therefore has different characteristics, both in terms of chromatography and organoleptic properties, depending on the flowers from which the bees extract the nectar.
Honey is a very sweet food, being made up mostly of sugars, especially fructose, which represent 80% of honey. These are easily assimilated sugars and that is why its use is recommended as an invigorating to immediately provide energy, in case of sports or excessive fatigue. Honey is a very digestible food, so it is also recommended for children (although, as we will see, it is contraindicated for children under one year of life) or for those suffering from gastrointestinal diseases.
Honey contains substances with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action, which is why it is often recommended in the case of inflammatory and infectious affections of the throat or respiratory tract. There are different types of honey, depending on the flower from which the bees extract the nectar, and each one has particular characteristics and is therefore suitable for a specific use.
Honey and its properties
As we have said, honey can be of different types, each suitable for a particular use because it has the characteristics of the plant from which it is obtained. In the kitchen what is used most often is the wildflower honey, which, as the name suggests, comes from flowers of a different nature and therefore does not have specific characters. Let’s see the organoleptic and nutritional characteristics of the different types of honeys and their benefits.
Acacia honey looks like a light yellow but transparent liquid, with a very delicate and fine, almost velvety flavor. It has laxative properties and is anti-inflammatory for the stomach and intestines. It is used for throat inflammations and as a liver detoxifier. Great for children, given its delicate flavor. It is the most digestible honey.
It is a honey with a very strong flavor, reminiscent of that of anise. This honey has a strongly restorative and antirheumatic action.
Citrus honey can be orange, lemon and bergamot, in various proportions. It is a honey with an aromatic but slightly acid flavor. It has sedative properties, in fact it is used against insomnia, but it also has the ability to heal ulcers.
Chestnut honey has an amber, almost reddish appearance. Its flavor is very intense and even a little bitter. It disinfects the urinary tract, is astringent, calms abdominal spasms and promotes circulation. Chestnut honey is also useful as an anti-inflammatory in case of respiratory tract diseases.
Lavender honey has a pale yellow color compared to other types of honey. It tends to crystallize into small crystals, taking on a whiter color. It is a honey with a calming action on the nervous system, useful in case of anxiety and stress and also has an antispastic action.
Dandelion honey has a very strong and persistent flavor, with an amber color. Like the plant from which it is produced, the respective honey also has diuretic and purifying properties but also detoxifies the kidneys. The use of dandelion honey counteracts constipation.
Thyme honey is a very aromatic honey and, like dandelion honey, it has an intense and persistent smell and flavor, with a balsamic aftertaste. Thyme honey is used to combat fever, cold and respiratory tract infections, thanks to the presence of antiseptic substances. It also has calming properties.
Linden honey also has a persistent and balsamic flavor. It is used as a calming of the nervous system, against irritability and insomnia. It has diuretic properties and facilitates digestive functions. Its consumption is also able to calm menstrual pains. Excellent for sore throats and bronchitis, thanks to its expectorant properties.
Rosemary honey is very dense, with a very light color, tending to white when it crystallizes. It has a fine and delicate flavor. This honey is excellent for purifying the liver and for counteracting fatigue. It also stimulates the functionality of the intestines and stomach.
It is a honey with a very strong flavor, with a malt aftertaste. It is more liquid than other types of honey and also less sweet. Fir honey is beneficial for the respiratory system, thanks to its antiseptic properties.
Manuka honey has a slightly spicy flavor and dark brown color. Its use stimulates the immune system, is beneficial for the gastrointestinal system in case of gastritis and colitis and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Eucalyptus honey has a dark color and a strong, balsamic flavor, reminiscent of malt. It has an anti-asthmatic, balsamic, expectorant and antibiotic action. For this reason it is useful in case of sore throat and respiratory problems. Excellent in the winter months.
Sunflower honey has a deep yellow color and flavor with a slight pollen aroma and is not very sweet. It is recommended to lower blood cholesterol levels and to counteract fever and neuralgia. Sunflower honey is also useful for calcifying bones.
Strawberry tree honey
Strawberry tree honey has an amber color, a fairly strong bitter taste and is a rare honey, produced only in some areas of Tuscany and Sardinia. It is a honey with a high antioxidant content, purifying, astringent and stimulating the immune system.
Honeydew honey is obtained from honeydew, a sugary substance found mainly on the leaves of plants, rather than from the nectar of flowers. It is a very dark honey with a thick consistency. It is very rich in mineral salts but also in oligosaccharides, thanks to which the activity of the intestinal bacterial flora is stimulated. It also has a strong antibacterial action.
Alfalfa honey is a very delicate honey with a neutral flavor. It is restorative and invigorating and has anti-inflammatory substances, therefore useful for sore throats.
Some tips for introducing honey into the diet
Honey can be used as a sweetener for coffee or tea, but also in milk and herbal teas instead of sugar. It can also be used in desserts or to accompany salty foods such as cheeses. In case of sore throat or cough, it can also be useful to consume pure honey to the extent of one or two teaspoons.
Contraindications: who should not take honey
Honey should not be given to children younger than 12 months, due to the danger of infant botulism, given by the presence of botulinum toxin in honey (harmless, however, for adults). But it is also not recommended for children because it is an allergenic food. Finally, due to the high sugar content and the resulting high glycemic index, honey should not be consumed by diabetics. Being a fairly caloric food, moderate use is recommended for those who need to lose weight.