It would truly be a sweet thing if there were no disadvantages to purchasing and consuming raw honey, however there are a few that every health- and planet-conscious individual should be aware of:
- Extra Calories – Honey is a fast way to add calories to a meal. 1 tablespoon on average yields 60 calories. Thus, if you are interested in losing weight, or not gaining excess pounds, you have to be careful how much honey you use, and how often. Normally, due to honey’s intensely sweet flavor, it is hard to consume a lot of it at once.
- High Sugar Content – Honey is about 40% fructose and 30% glucose, with the remaining carbohydrates including maltose, sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates. Even though raw honey has been studied in actually aiding insulin regulation, regular or high consumption of any sugar can cause various imbalances.
- Bacterial Contamination – Due to the fact that honey is very low in water content and very high in sugar content, this makes it undesirable for microbial growth. However, in rare cases endospores of Clostridium botulinum (the bacteria that can cause botulism) have been found. This is normally never a problem for an adult digestive system, but the reason why honey should not be given to infants.
- Animal Welfare – Depending on how the honey bees are housed and maintained, beekeeping can become a controversial animal welfare issue. Some beekeepers have been known to burn or starve the colonies at the end of the season to avoid costs of maintenance out of season. Hence, buying honey from local beekeepers whom you know or companies who practice humane treatment is key when purchasing raw honey.
- Disappearing Bees – Scientific reports show that bee numbers are on a sharp decline and this is naturally troublesome for our future food forecasts. We must remember that bees are responsible for the pollination of most of our plant food crops and without them, we face serious problems. Thus lowering a demand for honey has been proposed as a way to let bees thrive in their own natural habitat. Various chemicals, climate change and electromagnetic radiation are also being investigated in the issue of declining bee numbers.
In the end, raw honey can be both beneficial and damaging to our health and environment. Hence, it all depends on its source and how it is used.
I do not believe in the “everything in moderation” paradigm, so I will not tell you to enjoy it in moderation, but rather to listen to your body and its needs. If you feel that raw honey is something that can benefit your health as a natural health option, search for the right variety to cause minimal environmental damage and get maximum organic foods benefits.
If on the other hand, you can pass on this sweet substance, don’t forget that the beneficial compounds like bee pollen and propolis are available as all natural health supplements as well. Just search your favorite natural health store to find raw honey or the equivalent health supplements online.
Evita Ochel, B.Sc., B.Ed., CHN., RNC., CNHP - is the founder and editor of EvolvingWellness.com. She is a certified holistic nutritionist, biologist, educator, writer, researcher and speaker in the areas of health, science and holistic wellness. Evita is a nutritional science expert and her teaching and writing focus on natural, wholesome, plant-based and organic nutrition to achieve optimal health and longevity. You can learn more about Evita Ochel or follow her on Twitter.