What food group is honey? You might be shocked to learn that in 2017, honey production revenue will increase by 11 billion US dollars, which indicates that this food will be one of the essential natural components in the sector.
Honey is considered a sugar and a sweetener. It is a sugar that is made from the nectar of flowers. Honey is used as a sweetener because it’s sweeter than refined sugar and also much less calorific.
In other words, honey contains far fewer calories per gram than dried cane or beet sugars. It is naturally sweet, so people use it as a form of sugar.
In addition, honey is considered one of the best natural sweeteners after sugar because it has distinct nutritional values, making it more distinctive for human health.
So, here we’ll discuss honey and its nutritional values and whether it is a food or not. To know more about it, keep reading.
What is Honey?
Honey is a natural food which means that it does not contain any artificial stuff added to alter the flavor, color, or nutritional values.
Instead, it is produced by bees who collect flower nectar from flowers through their tongues and store it into special cells in the hive.
They then drop the liquid droplets on the hive walls, which the bees convert into honey.
FDA defines honey as added sugar in the food pyramid since it’s one of the primary sweeteners.
Although it is derived from a natural source, there is no honey food group.
It is similar to maple syrup in this aspect. However, the production of maple syrup is a lot different.
Honey has a long history, and humans have been eating it for over 8000 years now. It is considered the second most popular sweetener in existence after
What are the staple food groups?
The main food groups that you can find in restaurants and fast foods are bread, cereals, fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, meat and alternatives, and oils and fats.
Honey is not the leading food group, and it has no place in the pyramid as stated by the FDA’s definition of food groups.
Due to this fact, most countries cannot find a proper location for honey in their national nutrition programs.
However, some confectionaries consider honey as an ingredient in their products.
Composition of honey
Honey is for sure a rich source of carbohydrates and proteins. The ratio of fructose and glucose is prevalent in its composition, which makes up 90% of the total ingredients present in honey.
Since sucrose and maltose are present, these elements make up around 10% of the total ingredients.
Honey is primarily composed of sugar, water, and various additives. As a result, honey has a pleasant flavor (about 90 percent) followed by water (the liquid).
The minor ingredients in tiny quantities account for the differences between different types of honey. The other components of honey are:
Honey contains several sugar components. The main two sugars found in honey are fructose and glucose, followed by maltose. These sugars are divided into monosaccharides or disaccharides, depending on the number of molecules present.
- Fructose. It is the primary sugar found in honey, about 38 percent of the total sugars. Fructose consists of one molecule of glucose, which is also called dextrose.
- Glucose. It is the second most crucial sugar in honey, present in a little lesser amount than fructose. Glucose consists of one molecule of water and two molecules of dextrose (fructose).
- Maltose. It is a disaccharide formed from two glucose molecules. It is joined together by chemical bonds between carbon 1 of one molecule and carbon 4 of another molecule.
Honey has a tiny amount of minerals, about 4%. The minerals are combined with calcium, potassium, sodium, zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese.
Trace minerals are identified in honey samples by atomic absorption spectroscopy.
Enzymes are also present in tiny amounts in honey sugars that may affect the quality of honey. However, the heat of summer causes enzymes to break down into amino acids, so they would not cause the quality of honey.
Proteins are also present in a tiny amount in the composition of honey, about 1 percent. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are necessary for proper cell functions within the body. In addition, a particular form of a protein called enzymes is present in these sugars that helps convert starch into sugars.
The B-vitamins are necessary for the proper development of the nervous system and other cells in the body. These elements are also present in honey, which can be another reason to incorporate them into your diet. These include riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid.
Honey has about 17-18 percent water content in it. This percentage remains relatively constant because honey does not store well unless the moisture is removed.
Antioxidants are molecules primarily responsible for protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals, which may develop within a body due to stress, diet, or lifestyle choices impacting a person’s health over a long period.
They also help prevent the development of heart diseases as well as cancer. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that have been identified as present in raw honey samples but at low levels compared to fruits such as grapes and blueberries.
Is honey food?
Yes, It’s the best food for being healthy. With proper food nutrients like carbohydrates to protein, all kinds of elements are present in honey. In addition, it’s a pure natural product, which is helpful for strength and good health.
Brown rice syrup is a kind of alternative sweetener to make food or baby formula. It’s made from brown rice, and it has a flavor like honey.
Types of honey:
Honey varieties are determined by the types of flowers from which the nectar is gathered. For example, orange blossoms provide nectar that yields a certain kind of honey.
The differences in flavor and color depend significantly on what flowers the bees visit for their food supply. In general, different varieties of honey might be characterized as follows:
(Robinia pseudoacacia) or gum arabic tree (or simply acacia), also known as the Black locust. It has a delicate flavor similar to clover with some herbaceous notes. It is taken mainly in springtime when the trees are blooming.
Clover honey is a general term for several types of honey produced from different species in the genus Trifolium. It is one of the most common types of honey in North America and Europe. It is light-colored honey with a mild, somewhat flowery aroma and tastes long been a staple in many localities.
Fir or Fir Tree Honey:
It is a dark amber to nearly black with a smoky flavor, produced from nectar gathered from blooming fir trees. One variety comes from Corsica and Sicily called Maquis which is made up of thyme, rosemary, juniper berry, wild fennel, and other aromatic shrubs.
Buckwheat honey is dark in color with a robust, deep flavor. Its name is not related to wheat or the plant of that name. It is native to temperate climates, and its seeds are used for food.
Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
This richly light yellow-colored honey has a somewhat herbal taste with a hint of spiciness. This type of honey is produced mainly by bees that visit fireweed flowers on hillsides or mountainsides where few other flowering plants are growing during late spring through summertime.
Native to southern Europe, West Asia, North Africa, Macaronesia. Its name comes from Arabic (zar). The flower looks similar to cotton but is yellow with red streaks, edible petals packed with antioxidants. Canola honey is famous in Australia, where it is gathered from wildflowers and produced commercially on a small scale.
Dark brownish honey has a rustic and unique flavor. It is taken from blooming chestnut trees.
Light-colored honey is famous in Europe. The bees gather nectar from the flowers of dandelions that contain a small amount of volatile oil, which gives them their unique aroma.
Orange Blossom Honey:
This honey is light and clear and often has a mild taste. It comes from oranges which are native to South Asia, mainly India. Portuguese explorers brought orange blossom tree saplings from East Asia to the western hemisphere in the 16th century. And they have since become naturalized throughout southeast regions of North America.
How is a honey produced?
Honey is naturally produced from the honey bee gland, which produces nectar and mixes it with an enzyme known as invertase. The nectar is then stored in the honeycomb cells, where they add enzymes and leave to ferment until ready for consumption.
Honey is made in bee colonies by worker bees. The process of making it involves several steps such as:
- First, honey bees fly away and choose the flower that they want to get the nectar from.
- Then these bees go back into the hive and fly back to their plants to feed. After some time, the bee ejects the hair while biting on a leaf of flowers with its jaws until it is full of hair full of nectar.
- The foraging bees go from flower to flower and collect nectar from various flowers.
- The collected nectar goes through the process of digestion inside the bee’s crop, where enzymes begin breaking down sucrose into glucose and fructose.
- Then the nectar enters a “honey stomach,” where partially digested sugars acidify to form a thick solution.
- This solution will then pass through another organ called the proventriculus. It happens before reaching another part of the gut called ventriculus or “gut.”
- This system is only available for worker bees, not drones or queens. Honey can be produced either by beekeepers who manage their hives using modern methods or by non-professional beekeepers.
Benefits of honey:
- It is a good source of potassium and iron.
- Along with calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, vitamin C, and B-complex
- It contains some antioxidant compounds, too, which reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer by fighting against free radicals in the body.
- It prevents skin problems like eczema and psoriasis because of its moisturizing properties.
- Honey helps to control high blood sugar and keeps blood sugar levels stable in the body.
- It helps strengthen muscles as it is rich in proteins and amino acids that help build muscle tissues.
- It helps to calm coughs.
- Soothes sore throat by inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
Honey stores well for a long time, even centuries, if stored properly. Therefore, it is used in baking and cooking where its unique taste adds flavor to the food prepared using it.
How to find original honey?
There are several easy tests you can perform to check the quality of honey.
This is a simple test to check if honey has been diluted or adulterated with water. Place a tablespoon of honey into White vinegar and stir it until the water and honey mix together. This mixture will soon clear and thicken, showing that you have pure honey and are not diluted by water.
Another way would be to take a glass of water and put a single drop of honey in it. If the honey spreads around the surface of the water, this means you do not have pure honey and have been diluted with water.
Pure unadulterated honey tastes sweet because its fructose content is higher than glucose. Its flavor comes from plant sources which bees commonly visit for nectar, such as orange blossom, heather, buckwheat, lavender, etc.
Pure honey should not taste bitter or alcoholic as these flavors indicate that chemicals may have been used during processing or fake honey mixed into the jar.
As honey can sometimes ferment in the jar, it should taste smooth and not acidic. If you notice anything unusual about your honey’s flavor, then you should not continue consuming it.
How can honey be stored?
You can storage honey for a long time. Because it’s a natural food derivative that can last hundreds of years if you put it safely. Honey does not need any unique storage methods, but you can keep it in a cool, dry place or refrigerator to help preserve its taste and quality.
How do you recognize fake honey?
Fake honey is often diluted with water and contains no bee pollen at all. The presence of too much water reduces the viscosity of honey, which then increases the chances of fermentation.
As pure unadulterated honey is quite expensive, many people try to make money by mixing cheap sugars like high fructose corn syrup with natural honey to dilute it down and make loads of cash within no time. Fake honey is sometimes combined with other sweeteners like molasses, malt, sucrose (table sugar), starch, etc.
Can honey be produced synthetically?
No. Because bees make it, only bees can produce pure honey if you try to create it in the lab, maybe adding some flavor, color, or viscosity. But at the end of the day, it’s not honey.
So why are you wasting money on fake honey? Instead, try natural, wholesome honey from your nearby market.
What food category is honey? Honey is a type of sweetener that comes from bees. It has been used as a natural sweetener from time immemorial.
In the end, honey is an excellent food for athletes and gym-goers. It aids in recovery, aids in growth, and can be used as a healthy energy source before and after your workouts.
So buy the best organic honey to see great results when trying to cut or build lean muscles.
And always try to consume lean and original honey from the market. It’s a portion of healthy and nutritious food to keep in your kitchen and can be used for several purposes in daily life.
Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M D