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Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans.

Honey bees form nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation, and store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Beekeeping practices encourage overproduction of honey so the excess can be taken from the colony.

Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and has approximately the same relative sweetness as that of granulated sugar. It has attractive chemical properties for baking, and a distinctive flavor that leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity of 0.6. However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous to infants, as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in the infant's immature intestinal tract, leading to illness and even death.

Formation:
Honey is produced by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when fresh food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy. In the hive (or in a wild nest), there are three types of bee: a single female queen bee, a seasonally variable number of male drone bees to fertilize new queens, and some 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees. The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. Leaving the hive, they collect sugar-rich flower nectar and return.

In the hive, the bees use their "honey stomachs" to ingest and regurgitate the nectar a number of times until it is partially digested. The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation and digestion until the product reaches a desired quality. It is then stored in honeycomb cells. After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. However, the nectar is still high in both water content and natural yeasts, which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment. The process continues as bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb, which enhances evaporation of much of the water from the nectar. This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper, has a long shelf life, and will not ferment if properly sealed.

As a food and in cooking:
The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking, as a spread on bread, and as an addition to various beverages, such as tea, and as a sweetener in some commercial beverages. Honey barbecue and honey mustard are common and popular sauce flavors.
Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead, which is also known as "honey wine" or "honey beer". Historically, the ferment for mead was honey's naturally occurring yeast. Honey is also used as an adjunct in some beers.

Nutrition:
Honey is a mixture of sugars and other compounds. With respect to carbohydrates, honey is mainly fructose (about 38.5%) and glucose (about 31.0%), making it similar to the synthetically produced inverted sugar syrup, which is approximately 48% fructose, 47% glucose, and 5% sucrose. Honey's remaining carbohydrates include maltose, sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates. As with all nutritive sweeteners, honey is mostly sugars and contains only trace amounts of vitamins or minerals. Honey also contains tiny amounts of several compounds thought to function as antioxidants, including chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin C, catalase, and pinocembrin. The specific composition of any batch of honey depends on the flowers available to the bees that produced the honey.

Typical honey analysis:
Fructose: 38.2%
Glucose: 31.3%
Sucrose: 1.3%
Maltose: 7.1%
Water: 17.2%
Higher sugars: 1.5%
Ash: 0.2%
Other/undetermined: 3.2%
Its glycemic index ranges from 31 to 78, depending on the variety.

Honey Nutritional value per 100 g(3.5 oz):
Energy - 1,272 kJ (304 kcal)
Carbohydrates - 82.4 g
Sugars - 82.12 g
Dietary fiber - 0.2 g
Fat - 0 g
Protein - 0.3 g
Water - 17.10 g
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) - 0.038 mg (3%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) - 0.121 mg (1%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) - 0.068 mg (1%)
Vitamin B6 - 0.024 mg (2%)
Folate (Vit. B9) - 2 μg (1%)
Vitamin C - 0.5 mg (1%)
Calcium - 6 mg (1%)
Iron - 0.42 mg (3%)
Magnesium - 2 mg (1%)
Phosphorus - 4 mg (1%)
Potassium - 52 mg (1%)
Sodium - 4 mg (0%)
Zinc - 0.22 mg (2%)

Indicators of Quality:
High-quality honey can be distinguished by fragrance, taste, and consistency. Ripe, freshly collected, high-quality honey at 20 C (68 F) should flow from a knife in a straight stream, without breaking into separate drops. After falling down, the honey should form a bead. The honey, when poured, should form small, temporary layers that disappear fairly quickly, indicating high viscosity. If not, it indicates excessive water content (over 20%) of the product. Honey with excessive water content is not suitable for long-term preservation. In jars, fresh honey should appear as a pure, consistent fluid, and should not set in layers. Within a few weeks to a few months of extraction, many varieties of honey crystallize into a cream-colored solid.

In medicine
Historically, honey has been used by humans to treat a variety of ailments through topical application, but only recently have the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey been chemically explained.

In Ayurveda, a 4000-year-old medicine originating from India, honey is considered to positively affect all three primitive material imbalances of the body. It has sweetness with added astringent as end taste. It is heavy, dry and cold. Its effect on doshas (imbalances) is that it aggravates vata (air / moving forces), scrapes kapha (mucus / holding forces) and normalizes pitta (catabolic fire) and rakta (blood). It promotes the healing process. Some wound gels which contain antibacterial raw honey and have regulatory approval are now available to help treat drug-resistant strains of bacteria (MRSA).

As an antimicrobial agent honey may have the potential for treating a variety of ailments. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, chelation of free Iron, its slow release of hydrogen peroxide, high acidity, and the antibacterial activity of methylglyoxal.

Honey appears to be effective in killing drug-resistant biofilms which are implicated in chronic rhinosinusitis. When honey is used topically (as, for example, a wound dressing), hydrogen peroxide is produced by dilution of the honey with body fluids. As a result, hydrogen peroxide is released slowly and acts as an antiseptic.

Antioxidants in honey have even been associated with reducing the damage done to the colon in colitis. Such claims are consistent with its use in many traditions of folk medicine.

Honey has also been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats and coughs and, according to recent research, may be an effective soothing agent for coughs.

Other Medicinal uses:
Some studies suggest the topical use of honey may reduce odors, swelling, and scarring when used to treat wounds; it may also prevent the dressing from sticking to the healing wound. Honey has been shown to be an effective treatment for conjunctivitis.
Unfiltered, pasteurized honey is widely believed to alleviate allergies, though neither commercially filtered nor raw honey was shown to be more effective. Pollen collected by bees to exert an antiallergenic effect, mediated by an inhibition of IgE immunoglobulin binding to mast cells.

Health Hazard:
Because of the natural presence of botulinum endospores in honey, children under one year of age should not be given honey. The more-developed digestive system of older children and adults generally destroys the spores. Infants, however, can contract botulism from honey. Honey produced from the flowers of oleanders, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, sheep laurel, and azaleas may cause honey intoxication. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, nausea, and vomiting. Less commonly, low blood pressure, shock, heart rhythm irregularities, and convulsions may occur, with rare cases resulting in death. Honey intoxication is more likely when using "natural" unprocessed honey and honey from farmers who may have a small number of hives. Commercial processing, with pooling of honey from numerous sources, generally dilutes any toxins.

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