Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bees and insects has distinctly different properties.
Honey has a long history of human consumption and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. It also has a role in religion and symbolism.
Honey is created 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.Fresh honey is a super-saturated liquid, containing more sugar than the water can typically dissolve at ambient temperatures.
In Hinduism, honey (Madhu) is one of the five elixirs of immortality (Panchamrita). In temples, honey is poured over the deities in a ritual called Madhu abhisheka. The Vedas and other ancient literature mention the use of honey as a great medicinal and health food.
In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashanah. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashanah greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in the new year.
In Buddhism, honey plays an important role in the festival of Madhu Purnima, celebrated in India and Bangladesh.
In the Christian New Testament, Matthew 3:4, John the Baptist is said to have lived for a long period of time in the wilderness on a diet consisting of locusts and wild honey.
In Islam, there is an entire Surah in the Qur'an called al-Nahl (the Honey Bee). According to hadith, Prophet Muhammad strongly recommended honey for healing purposes. Qur'an promotes honey as a nutritious and healthy food.
Also, in many children’s books bears are depicted as eating honey, (e.g., Winnie the Pooh) even though most bears actually eat a wide variety of foods, and bears seen at beehives are usually more interested in bee larvae than honey.
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.[vague] The specific composition of any batch of honey depends on the flowers available to the bees that produced the honey.
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%)
Shown is for 100 g, roughly 5 tbsp.
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database