Winter Tips: On the Nature and Use(s) of Honey

Winter Tips: On the Nature and Use(s) of Honey
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Waseem Ahmad

As winter approaches in Kashmir, the demand pull of honey in market begins vigorously. People of different age, caste and religion begin to use honey in different forms to stay energetic and enhancing immunity against cold winters. As honey contains concentration of sugar it has a high calorific value. People use it differently on the basis of their choice, taste and need. Some people use it as diet, others use it for medicinal purpose and some use it as an ingredient in elite recipes and some use it in cosmetic form.
Honey has a vigorous market demand in J&K valley depending only if it is pure. While going through this essay, you will get to know the home based tests to check purity of honey. People are always demanding pure honey and saying “Khand maah chuus rallee” (means if it is adulterated with sugar).There are different types of honey differentiated on the basis of floral source like Acacia honey (Keekar Maunch) white transparent in colour, Plectranthus rugossus honey locally called as “Solai” Maunch having a unique colour, taste and aroma and much more.
In several religious books honey is mentioned. A whole chapter called Surah An-Nahl is in the Holy Quran which dwells on honey and the honey bee and where it is said that honey can treat everything except death. “The honeybee, then to eat of all the produce and fruits(on the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a fluid of varying colors, in which there is a healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought”(Surah 16:68-69)
“Honey is the most important primary product of beekeeping both from the quantitative and economic point of view, first bee product used by human kind in ancient times. It is the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of blossoms or from the secretion of living parts of plants or excretions of plant sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which honey bees collect, transform and combine with specific substances of their own, store and leave in the honey comb to ripen and mature” (this is the general definition of honey in the Codex Alimentarius (1989)).
The composition of honey
The average composition of honeys, or we can say the main components identified in honeys are sugars which account for 95 to 99% of honey dry matter. The majority of these are simple sugars fructose and glucose which represent 85-95% of total sugars. Small quantities of other sugars are also present, such as disaccharides (sucrose, maltose and isomaltose) and a few trisaccharides and oligosaccharides. Though quantitatively of minor importance, their presence can provide information about adulteration and the botanical origin of the honey. Water is quantitatively the second most important component of honey. Its content is critical, since it affects the storage of honey. Only honey(s) with less than 18% water can be stored with little to no risk of fermentation. The final water content depends on a number of environmental factors during production such as weather and humidity inside the hive, but also on nectar conditions and treatment of honey during extraction and storage. Among the minor constituents organic acids are the most important and of these gluconic acid, which is a by-product of enzymatic digestion of glucose, predominates. The organic acids are responsible for the acidity of honey and contribute largely to its characteristic taste.

USES OF HONEY
• Improves digestion
• Relieves nausea
• Acne cure Exfoliator
• Improves diabetes
• Lowers cholesterol
• Improves circulation
• Antioxidant support –Restore Sleep Pre-biotic support
• Improve allergies
• Lose weight –Moisturize as a hydrating solution with olive oil and lemon –Hair mask ,Eczema relief –
• Reduces inflammation –.
• Heals wounds and relives sore throat

Precautions to be taken before using honey:
Honey should not be given to infants under the age of 18 months because some honey contains low count of naturally occurring bacterial botulinium spores, which bees collect together with the nectar. Honey should never be mixed with hot, spicy foods.
Honey should not be heated or consumed warm as it causes toxic effect.
During full fasting, taking in only liquids and no other foods about 150ml to 200ml honey mixed with water or tea every day for a few days is recommended.
Honey should not be used in excessive quantities. If taken in excess quantity, produces a condition like indigestion of honey.
As a thumb rule in the case of a normal diet, not more than 10 teaspoons of honey (about 50 ml) per day is recommended.

The Author is a Researcher at SKAUST-KASHMIR and can be reached at: waseembhatspn@yahoo.com