By Howland Blackiston, Unknown

Honey is nice on toast. But did you know it will also relieve a multitude of medical issues — from taming a cough and alleviating allergies to healing cuts or burns. Because of its low pH and hygroscopic properties, bacteria cannot survive in honey. The pollen in the honey contains various minerals as well as enzymes and B vitamins, which impart immune-boosting properties that help the body fight infection. Good stuff.

Generally speaking, the darker the honey, the greater the antibacterial qualities.

If you are sensitive to sugars, the fructose and glucose in honey aid in maintaining blood sugar levels. The first gives you a natural burst of energy and the second sustains your blood levels so you will not get the sugar blues as you might with processed white sugar. Overall, honey is a wise choice — it is wholesome and the only naturally processed sweetener found in nature.

Honey and diabetes

There are all kinds of conflicting information on the Internet about whether honey is or is not ok for those with diabetes. Check with your doctor for the definitive answer. In the meantime, the following information from the Mayo Clinic is helpful:

Generally, there’s no advantage to substituting honey for sugar in a diabetes eating plan. Both honey and sugar will affect your blood sugar level. Honey is sweeter than granulated sugar, so you might use a smaller amount of honey for sugar in some recipes. But honey actually has slightly more carbohydrates and more calories per teaspoon than does granulated sugar — so any calories and carbohydrates you save will be minimal. If you prefer the taste of honey, go ahead and use it — but only in moderation. Be sure to count the carbohydrates in honey as part of your diabetes eating plan. — Mayo Clinic website

Honey’s nutritional value

One tablespoon of honey (21 g) provides 64 calories. Honey tastes sweeter to most people than sugar and as a result, most people likely use less honey than they would sugar.

Honey is also a rich source of carbohydrates, providing 17 grams per tablespoon, which makes it ideal for your working muscles because carbohydrates are the primary fuel the body uses for energy. Carbohydrates are necessary in the diet to help maintain muscle glycogen, also known as stored carbohydrates, which are the most important fuel source for athletes to help them keep going.

Honey and children

Children are advised by the medical community to be at least 18 months before introducing honey into their diets.

Spores of botulism naturally find their way into any raw agricultural product or simply the dust that may settle inside a honey jar. Mature digestive and immune systems can normally handle this type of bacteria; however, children and infants are not advised to consume raw honey. Every individual will respond uniquely to ingesting honey, so seek the advice from a qualified medical care provider.