The nutritional value of honey is incredible, and the benefits are huge both from a health and wellbeing perspective. Zara Carmichael gives us some nutritional facts about the benefits.
I have long been aware of the healing properties of Scottish heather honey. As a born and bred Scot, you know it as the medicine ‘yer granny used to take’. As I have learnt more on my journey through nutrition and wellbeing, these ideas have not been unfounded. Saying this, there is a lot of false information about precisely what Heather honey can do, and so I’m here to set things straight with a big old dose of science (and some links beside so you read more at your leisure!)
Top Nutritional Benefits of Scottish Heather Honey
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Honey’s celebrated properties are primarily due to the presence of polyphenols, a collective term for various bioactive plant compounds exerting strong antioxidant effects; including flavonoids and phenolic acids. A diet rich in polyphenols can alleviate numerous inflammatory diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and even protect against some cancers! (2). Scottish heather honey is abundant in several polyphenols but notably gallic acid (3), known to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells (4).
2. Good for the Gut
Only a small proportion of polyphenols found in honey can be absorbed in the small intestine, with up to 95% travelling to the colon (5). Once in the colon, polyphenols nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut, encouraging them to proliferate, recognising honey as a prebiotic (6). This increase in beneficial bacteria (probiotics) helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria (pathogens) as well as improving your digestion and overall nutrient status (6). Polyphenols specifically fuel Bifidobacteria,afriendly gut bacterium with the ability to produce B vitamins as well as vitamin K (6). Essential nutrients many of us are lacking!
3. Source of Vitamins & Minerals
Although it is important, we acknowledge the free-sugar content of honey and consume it mindfully (even natural high-quality honey), it is equally important we celebrate its nutritional benefits. Unlike typical white sugar, which is often referred to as ‘empty calories’, honey contains the antioxidants discussed above as well as important vitamins and minerals such as manganese!
Scottish heather honey was recently found to contains significantly high levels of manganese, up to 10x that of its competitors, including the well-loved Makuna, making it the second richest source in the world! (7). Manganese is an essential trace-mineral, with powerful antioxidant properties as well as being crucial to metabolism, liver function and bone formation. (8) In regards to metabolism, manganese plays a vital role in regulation of insulin secretion; supporting the storage and utilisation of carbohydrates and dietary fats (8). In bone health, manganese activates several enzymes necessary for the formation of healthy cartilage and bone (8) . Finally in the liver, manganese facilitates the urea cycle; the centre of the body’s natural detoxification process (9).
- Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009;2(5):270‐278. doi:10.4161/oxim.2.5.9498 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835915/
- Lorna Fyfe, Paulina Okoro, Euan Paterson, Shirley Coyle, Gordon J. McDougall. Compositional analysis of Scottish honeys with antimicrobial activity against antibiotic-resistant bacteria reveals novel antimicrobial components, LWT - Food Science and Technology, Volume 79, 2017, Pages 52-59, ISSN 0023-6438, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lwt.2017.01.023.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643817300233
- Sharad Verma, Amit Singh, Abha Mishra, Gallic acid: Molecular rival of cancer, Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, Volume 35, Issue 3, 2013, Pages 473-485, ISSN 1382-6689, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.etap.2013.02.011.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1382668913000276
To find out more about Zara Carmichael check her out on www.zaraszen.com