As a carbohydrate, honey supplies energy at 64 calories per tablespoon, providing fuel to working muscles. A study at the Baylor University Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory found honey to be an effective carbohydrate gel to ingest just prior to exercise.
Honey offers surprising nutritional benefits. Unlike refined sugars, honey contains trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants—all good for you.
Honey’s antibacterial properties may help clear infection in wounds. And honey’s anti-inflammatory action may reduce pain and improve circulation.
More than 300 unique kinds of honey exist in the United States. The color and flavor of honey differ depending on the bees’ nectar source and the age of the honey. Like wine, says beekeeper John Miller, “they all have textures and finishes and presences. You’ve got berry notes and citrus notes and alkalinity notes.”
In general, lighter-colored honeys are milder in flavor. The most sought-after types of honey tend to be clover and alfalfa, which grow in abundance in fields in the western United States. Miller’s favorite honey, however, comes from the star thistle, a particularly invasive plant found only in Northern California. “It’s a terrible, noxious, invasive, nasty weed,” he says. “But its honey is like sunshine on your tongue.”
Sources: National Honey Board,www.honey.com; beekeeper John Miller.