Unlike processed honey, raw honey is not heated or filtered and retains more nutrients. Raw honey contains small amounts of the same resins found in propolis. Honeybees make propolis with plant resins and their own secretions. The bees use this substance to seal the hive and protect it from bacteria. There are both danger and benefits associated with this natural sweetener.
Risk for Infant Botulism
Botulism spores are in air, soil, water and plants. In the absence of oxygen, the spores germinate and produce toxins. The process of boiling destroys the bacterial spores and toxins. Raw honey is a potential source of the Clostridium botulinum spores. The Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Honey Board recommend that you not give honey to infants under the age of 12 months. Infant botulism is a rare disease caused by the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum. The disease causes varying degrees of paralysis. Children over age 1 and healthy adults have the mature digestive systems necessary to prevent botulism spores from thriving.
Raw honey as a wound-healing remedy dates to ancient Egypt and Greece. Modern medicine is rediscovering its healing properties. Adam Voiland writes that researchers believe honey has the ability to kill microbes. In his article, "The Healing Power of Honey," featured online at U.S. News & World Report Health, Voiland, a writer with the magazine, reports the acidity in honey and its ability to dehydrate bacteria may be the reason for its therapeutic power in healing wounds. Honey dressings promoted healing, caused less tissue damage and reduce pain associated with dressing changes.
Raw honey is a source of carbohydrates, both fructose and glucose, which the body converts to energy. A serving of honey -- 1 tablespoon -- contains 17 grams of these natural sugars. Glucose provides instant energy, while fructose, which is more slowly absorbed, provides sustained energy. Athletes and active children benefit from raw honey's energy boosting ability. Raw honey is a natural source of minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium as well as vitamin B complex.
Considerations and Serving Tips
Enjoy the health benefits of raw honey, but consume it in moderation. Each tablespoon boasts 64 calories, and, while this might not seem like much, it can add up quickly if you eat raw honey on a regular basis. Make sure to measure your servings to avoid accidentally over-consuming honey, and take into account honey's calorie content when calculating your daily energy intake.
Use raw honey in homemade salad dressings -- it pairs well with mustard and lemon juice, or with lime juice and minced jalapeno -- or use it to flavor rolled oats or nonfat Greek yogurt.