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All About Honey

Three weeks into September, and we are now smack in the middle of the Jewish High Holiday season, which includes the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah; Wikipedia primer on the day is located HERE), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur; see link HERE), and in October time, Sukkot and Simchat Torah (Wikipedia links HERE and HERE).

One of my favorite Jewish New Year traditions is the eating of honey (yum!), which is meant to signify having a sweet new year, and is eaten with challah bread, apples, and pretty much whenever possible. How is honey made, though, and what makes some honeys darker, sweeter, or more expensive than any other kinds of honey?

Did you know that there are more than 300 different types of honey available in the United States (see link HERE)? Me neither! They vary based on what flowers the honey bees visit as they gather nectar. This website gives helpful guidance on when to use which type of honey (see HERE). Honey is also purported to have significant health benefits (see HERE), and it turns out that peer-reviewed scientific literature also backs up this claim of significant health benefits as well:

Farooqui, Tahira; Farooqui, Akhlaq A. “Health benefits of honey: implications for treating cardiovascular diseases.” Current Nutrition Food Sci. 2011, 7, 232-252.

Kumar, K. P. Sampath; Bhowmik, Debjit; Chiranjib; Biswajit; Chandira, M. R. “Medicinal uses and health benefits of honey: an overview.” J. Chem. Pharmaceutical Res. 2010, 2, 385-395.

Keep in mind, though, honey is really just sugar. It has significantly more fructose than table sugar, which is mostly glucose, but it is still a form of sugar. Negative health effects of excess sugar consumption have been reported, so enjoy the honey but consume in moderation! Happy New Year, Jewish-identifying scientists!

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