Health aspects of honeybee products

But isn't honey good for you? Even if it were, it is not a reason for vegans to eat it. (How many times have you heard that meat is good for you?) Clearly honey is not something that's vital for nutrition--it falls into the use sparingly category of anyone's food groups. It is basically just sugar; there are no complex carbohydrates and any amino acids present have virtually no nutritional value (National Honey Board). "The nutrients supplied by honey and other sweeteners are too low to be considered as practical sources of these nutrients" (National Honey Board). Enzymes are present in honey in very low concentrations but have been likely been deactivated during the heating honey undergoes during processing or just while in a hive sitting out in the hot sun (National Honey Board).

What about allergies? The evidence that eating locally grown honey helps reduce allergies is largely anecdotal. When actual experiments were conducted, they showed a marginal improvement at best (certainly not worthy of doing if allergy shots are used) (Schmidt & Buchmann 938). If you still have severe allergies after becoming vegan there are other alternatives to animal-tested pharmaceuticals to try before resorting to bees (like homeopathy).

Isn't pollen a wonder food? No. "Pollen is the ideal well-balance food for bees, but like any other material, is not a 'perfect food' for humans and statements or claims implying that pollen is such are not only highly unscientific, but are also unprofessional and potentially damaging to the reputation of the bee industry" (Schmidt & Buchmann 931). Pollen is more nutritious than some foods when eaten in comparable quantities--a pound of pollen anyone? There is no evidence to support the claims pollen sellers make. Pollen is not a magic bullet and is probably not going to supply anything you wouldn't get by eating a well-balanced vegan diet. Just because Ronald Regan does something, doesn't mean we all have to. Just say no to pollen.

What about royal jelly then? (Royal jelly is the queen's food.) "A wide variety of healthy and cosmetic properties have been attributed to royal jelly over the years. Nevertheless, no well designed controlled (preferably double blind) medical studies have demonstrated therapeutic effects for royal jelly. This is unlikely because, other than the fatty acids, there is nothing unusual about the composition of royal jelly" (Schmidt & Buchmann 969). Again, I think you'll be fine without it--have you ever even eaten royal jelly? And if you want those fatty acids, eat some ground flax seeds. In fact, try them in French Toast. Mmm.

Finally, the whole bee venom for Multiple Sclerosis is just a distraction. If somebody has MS and it really helps them, what can I say? (Actually, I'd say two words: placebo effect.) Regardless, this hardly means that they or anyone else should eat honey! Besides, if you really want to treat MS, go vegan!

But isn't a "natural" sweetener better for me than sugar? The National Honey Board is certainly trying to make you think so. In reality, honey is so similar to high fructose corn syrup that adulterating honey with it is a serious problem. It is virtually impossible to tell pure honey from adulterated honey. "Honey is primarily composed of fructose, glucose and water. It also contains other sugars as well trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins and amino acids" (NHB). Any dietician will tell you there is virtually no difference between honey and other sweeteners (Jibrin).

There is one group of people--infants under 12 months--that should not eat honey under any circumstances. Their digestive systems are not yet prepared to handle the bacteria spores possibly present in honey and may develop infant botulism (CDC; Sanford).

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