Food is any substance humans, animals or plants eat/take in for energy, growth and life maintenance. Examples of food include yam, garri, semolina, banana, apples, meat and fish.
On the other hand, nutrients are components of food; that means food contains nutrients. There are seven nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, lipids (fats and oils), water, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals) but a particular food may not contain all the nutrients hence we are advised to take a mixture of foods so as to get all the nutrients.
One of the foods with a lot of Myths is Honey, a product of honey bees; it is said to contain all nutrients known by man and also cures nearly all illnesses. The foregoing has made honey production a big business all over the world resulting in Natural Honey, adulterated Natural honey and even artificial honey.
Below are some of the facts and fallacies about natural Honey; honey below refers to natural honey ONLY:
1. Honey has some water
Honey is only about 17 per-cent water; the average fruit and vegetables is about 80 percent water. Consequently you cannot relieve your thirst with honey.
2. Honey is full of sugar
Honey is about 82.5 per cent Sugar; some people have the erroneous belief that honey is healthier than table sugar as they age and in the management of Diabetes Mellitus , Honey is bad for Diabetics, it contains some simple sugars, mainly Fructose. Other simple sugars in Honey include Glucose, Maltose and Sucrose
Simple sugars in food include Glucose, Fructose, Galactose, Maltose, Sucrose and Lactose.
Honey has more calories than table sugar but may have a lower Glycaemic index depending on the amount of Fructose in it, the more the Fructose the lower the Glycaemic index; the Glycaemic index of Honey varies from about 45 to 78, that of table sugar is about 65.
Glycaemic index measures how quickly food raises blood sugar, the less the Glycemic index figure the better.
3. Honey has minimal protein
Honey can be said to have no protein, only 0.3 per cent. Consequently Honey plays no role in our physical growth, formation of hormones, antibodies, enzymes and body fluids.
4. Honey has no Lipids (fat and oil)
Honey has no Lipids (fat and oil), the functions of lipids include provision of energy, holding body organs and nerves in position, maintenance of body temperature, palatability of food, absorption and transportation of some vitamins and formation of hormones among others. Honey therefore cannot contribute to any of the above.
5. Honey has very little amount of Vitamins
Honey is extremely poor in Vitamins as a whole, the few in honey are in insignificant concentration, Any food that contributes less than 10 per cent of daily requirement is poor in that vitamin. Honey has far less than 0.1 per cent of any vitamin it contains.
Consequently Honey cannot contribute to the functions of vitamins in the body.
6. Honey has very little amount of nutritional Minerals
Honey is extremely poor in nutritional Minerals as a whole, the few in honey are in insignificant concentration, Any food that contributes less than 10 per cent of daily requirement is poor in that Mineral. Honey has far less than 0.1 per cent of any Mineral it contains.
Consequently Honey cannot contribute to the functions of nutritional Minerals in the body.
7. Honey has some Phytochemicals
Honey has some Phytochemicals; mainly Alkaloids and Flavonoids. Phytonutrients or Phytochemicals are chemicals produced by plants to stay healthy; they protect plants from insects and ultra violet light. Phytochemicals give plant their colour, aroma and flavour. They are therefore plentiful in colourful fruits, vegetables, spices, whole grains, tea, legumes and nuts. Phytochemicals are not essential for life or for us to be healthy but they can make us healthier. Phytochemicals have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are said to improve our resistance against diseases (immunity). According to the United States Department of Agriculture, consumption of diet rich in phytochemicals can reduce the risk for heart disease and cancer.
Some alkaloids if taken in high quantity can be harmful to man,; the particular one in question is Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids.
Flavonoids on the other hand has been shown by some scientific research to have therapeutic properties against some bacteria but not against fungus. Thus Honey is said to be useful in the treatment of sores and some skin infections. However it certainly cannot be used alone as Flavonoids are active against Staph. Aureus and E. Coli only according to the studies,
From the above it can be said that most of the usefulness ascribed to Honey is false. Honey is an Empty Calorie; it gives energy because of the sugar it contains, it has no protein, fat, vitamins nor minerals. The usefulness of the Phytochemicals it contains is still debatable. It is certainly not any alternative to table sugar as it has more Calories, the Glycaemic index is almost the same depending on the concentration of Fructose in it and Honey irritates the stomach of some consumers.
Honey does not deserve the importance attached to it.