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Old 10-06-2008, 03:14 PM   #1
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raw honey vs. agave

What are your opinions, if you use either of these two?

I use trace amounts of raw honey in certain recipes, just because the taste is irreplaceable and I can fit the carbs into my plan. Am thinking of baking a bit more with honey--should come out to about 5 grams carbs per cookie, about 3 of those carbs from the honey used to sweeten. 5g net carbs per cookie is great for my plan, and the honey is so intense that just 1 cookie is satisfying.

So here's my question: Do y'all think there's a benefit to using agave nectar in place of the honey because of its lower glycemic index? Both honey and agave contain 17 grams of carbs per tablespoon. There's a much higher proportion of fructose in agave, which seems so much less natural. The processors of agave also have to boil the sap for hours. Doesn't seem like there would be any nutrients left vs. in raw, unpasteurized honey. Yes, the baking will "cook" the honey, but at least it won't be doubly heated! Thoughts? Am I overthinking this?
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Old 10-06-2008, 04:03 PM   #2
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Lauren, I would choose raw honey or organic black strap molasses over agave nectar simply due to the word "processed".

I didn't know there was a higher proportion of fructose in agave, tho, thanks for sharing -- I always learn something from you! Someone told me (I think it was Charski?) that agave nectar is lower glycemic because the fructose goes straight to the liver, something like that -- I hope she chimes in here!

And I'm very interested to see how others respond.
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Old 10-06-2008, 04:17 PM   #3
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From my reading, it's my understanding that fructose is processed by the liver and able to be stored as FAT, and doesn't hit your bloodstream the same way that other forms of sugar do, hence the "low glycemic impact" - once I learned that (from Dr. Michael Eades' blog) I pretty much quit using agave, which was too bad because I loved the taste of it.

I don't use honey either because it DOES cause an insulin release. I DO have some sugarfree honey (xylitol) that tastes about the same and acts about the same, so when I want honey flavor, that's what I use. Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol - it is not QUITE as low-impact as erythritol and causes SOME people some stomach distress, but I've never had it bother me in small amounts.

HTH, Lauren and HB! Again, this is my interpretation of Dr. Eades' post, you can always go to his blog and search on "agave" and I'm sure you'll turn up his FAR more scientific explanation!
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Old 10-06-2008, 04:26 PM   #4
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Thanks Charski!
Where did you buy the SF honey made w/ xylitol??
that sounds interesting!
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Old 10-06-2008, 05:55 PM   #5
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Gosh, I don't remember - it was online though - search for "sugarfree honey xylitol" and I think that will score some for you!
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Old 10-06-2008, 05:57 PM   #6
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I would use the raw honey, given a choice......I think it has some health benefits - or so I've heard.

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Old 10-06-2008, 06:10 PM   #7
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HB, I'm with you on the processing aspect! Although erythritol is highly processed, so perhaps that rule only applies sometimes?

Char, doesn't any sort of carb, even those from veggies, 'cause insulin release? Am I worse off releasing insulin with honey carbs than with red cabbage or raspberry carbs?

The sf honey looks intriguing, but how the heck do they make it? What makes it tastes like honey?!

B, thanks for you input!
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Old 10-07-2008, 04:59 AM   #8
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I avoid agave because of the fructose thing. We go on about how HFCS is bad at 55% fructose...well agave can be up to 90% fructose! It's true that it doesn't have the same immediate effect on blood sugar that other carbs do, but I think in the long run that it's actually worse. If you have a copy of Good Calories Bad Calories he talks about how fructose is handled and all the bad end products that come out of it. I'd quote the section here, but I lent the book to my mom and don't have it on hand. Anyone else know the section I'm talking about? I think it's something about going straight to the liver and getting converted directly into triglycerides; also it is much much more likely to create AGEs than other types of sugar and is more chemically reactive than other types of sugar.
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Old 10-07-2008, 05:13 AM   #9
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I avoid agave because of the fructose thing. We go on about how HFCS is bad at 55% fructose...well agave can be up to 90% fructose! It's true that it doesn't have the same immediate effect on blood sugar that other carbs do, but I think in the long run that it's actually worse. If you have a copy of Good Calories Bad Calories he talks about how fructose is handled and all the bad end products that come out of it. I'd quote the section here, but I lent the book to my mom and don't have it on hand. Anyone else know the section I'm talking about? I think it's something about going straight to the liver and getting converted directly into triglycerides; also it is much much more likely to create AGEs than other types of sugar and is more chemically reactive than other types of sugar.
That chapter on fructose was an eye opener! Thanks for reminding me, Kallyn. I have the pages flagged.

Okay, so honey it is. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, y'all!
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Old 10-07-2008, 05:26 AM   #10
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Taubes is the best sometimes!

I think honey tastes way better anyway.
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Old 10-07-2008, 05:40 AM   #11
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I get a daily email from Dr. Andrew Weil. I like some of what he says and totally disagree with other things. But sometimes he is right on the money and I like hearing what he thinks. Here is his one from this morning re HFCS/CS.
"What is the difference between corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup? Should both of them be avoided?

Corn syrup was invented in 1882. It is made by enzymatic conversion of cornstarch to a syrup mostly containing glucose (also known as blood sugar or dextrose). It is available for home use (as Karo syrup and maple-flavored pancake syrup for example) and is used commercially to sweeten many manufactured foods, from salad dressing, drink mixes, and fruit drinks to puddings, ice milk, and tomato sauces. The glucose content of corn syrup can range from 20 percent to 98 percent, but when you see "corn syrup" listed on a product label, you have no way of knowing how much glucose it contains.

Corn syrup that has been concentrated to contain less than 10% water can be described as "corn syrup solids" on a product label. That ingredient is at least 88 percent glucose.

Alternatively, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was invented in 1957, but did not come into widespread commercial use until the late 1970s. It is made by using other enzymes to convert glucose to fructose. It is as sweet as table sugar (sucrose) but much cheaper. HFCS was initially considered a "revolutionary" food science innovation because it retains moisture and prevents drying, controls crystallization, and blends with other sweeteners, acids and flavorings. Manufacturers love it, and it is now the principal sweetener used in processed and junk foods - everything from soft drinks and juices to salad dressings, ketchup, jams, jellies and ice cream.

HFCS contains 14 percent fructose. Never before in history have so many people been consuming so much fructose. I am concerned about its possible disruptive effects on metabolism, including its potential to cause insulin resistance. Along with a growing number of experts, I believe that HFCS is a chief driver of the obesity epidemic in this country, particularly of childhood obesity. I deplore our government's role in making HFCS so cheap through federal subsidies of corn production.

In general, it is best to cut down on foods to which any sweeteners have been added. All of them contribute to the obesity epidemic that is threatening the health of so many Americans. But HFCS is the worst, different from and possibly more dangerous than ordinary corn syrup. I urge you not to buy products made with it and not to let your kids eat them. HFCS is a marker of low-quality foods. Avoid them.

Andrew Weil, M.D."
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Old 10-07-2008, 09:00 AM   #12
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HB, I'm with you on the processing aspect! Although erythritol is highly processed, so perhaps that rule only applies sometimes?
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Old 10-07-2008, 09:01 AM   #13
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THANKS so much for this valuable info!
I'm gonna go read this chapter right now.

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I avoid agave because of the fructose thing. We go on about how HFCS is bad at 55% fructose...well agave can be up to 90% fructose! It's true that it doesn't have the same immediate effect on blood sugar that other carbs do, but I think in the long run that it's actually worse. If you have a copy of Good Calories Bad Calories he talks about how fructose is handled and all the bad end products that come out of it. I'd quote the section here, but I lent the book to my mom and don't have it on hand. Anyone else know the section I'm talking about? I think it's something about going straight to the liver and getting converted directly into triglycerides; also it is much much more likely to create AGEs than other types of sugar and is more chemically reactive than other types of sugar.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacksmixedtape View Post

Char, doesn't any sort of carb, even those from veggies, 'cause insulin release? Am I worse off releasing insulin with honey carbs than with red cabbage or raspberry carbs?

The sf honey looks intriguing, but how the heck do they make it? What makes it tastes like honey?!
Well, yes, sort of! Veggies also have plenty of good fiber which helps slow the absorption of any natural sugars into the bloodstream. (I'm paraphrasing here, I'm not a food scientist! ) And if you're eating them with fat such as butter or bacon grease, and they're part of a meal, then the total glycemic load of the veggie carbs is further reduced.

Which I'm sure you can also say about the small amount of honey you're using if it's an ingredient in small proportion to say, almond meals and fats and such.

For me personally, I don't keep honey in the house because there is too much temptation to use it liberally! :blush: And I don't know HOW they make that xylitol stuff taste like honey - I believe it says "natural flavors" - go figure? But it does taste like it and has about the same consistency and I like it! Not to mention the xylitol is purported to be good for your dental health, it is supposed to help prevent dental caries (aka cavities) - my DSis is a dentist and she thinks it's a good sweetener.

So that's MY reasoning anyway!
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:57 AM   #15
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Personally, due to enzymatic activity, I would choose black strap molasses.
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Old 10-11-2008, 01:09 PM   #16
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Blackstrap molasses is a bit strong in flavor for cookies for my taste, Fawn! It it lovely for adding a hint of brown sugar flavor, though. It's potent stuff!
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Old 10-11-2008, 01:38 PM   #17
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Dates?
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Old 10-11-2008, 01:44 PM   #18
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Dates?
What is the carb count of dates, Fawn? Are they sweet enough for baked goods? Why do you think they're a better choice than honey? Always learning something from you, Fawn!
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:01 PM   #19
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That chapter on fructose was an eye opener! Thanks for reminding me, Kallyn. I have the pages flagged.

Okay, so honey it is. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, y'all!
There's 40% fructose in honey...

Have you tried rice syrup? Processed but no fructose.
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Old 10-11-2008, 07:58 PM   #20
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About 20 years ago I was on an anti-candida diet, which I did very well on. After the first month or so I started adding fruits. I used small amounts of pureed fruit (like bananas, pears, pineapple, applesauce...) and stevia to sweeten baked goods. After not eating anything sweet, it tasted so good. Stevia and fruit compliment each other very well. Dates would be wonderful, but very high glycemic, probably best for the very hardest of souls.
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Old 10-12-2008, 08:19 AM   #21
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Personally, due to enzymatic activity, I would choose black strap molasses.
This would be my choice. I used it years ago in baking and liked it.

But. luckily, I'm too lazy to bake these days.
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Old 10-12-2008, 09:33 AM   #22
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This would be my choice. I used it years ago in baking and liked it.

But. luckily, I'm too lazy to bake these days.
I do use blackstrap molasses in baking. You can't use it as the primary sweetener, though. The flavor is way too strong to use, say, 1/4 cup of blackstrap molasses to sweeten a small batch of cookies.

For the carb count, honey provides the most sweetness and best flavor, so I'm sticking with it. The amount of fructose in honey is more than what you'd find in fruits. Thanks for the input, everyone!

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Old 10-12-2008, 12:45 PM   #23
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I'm curious about your anti-candida diet -- what did you eat/not eat (besides sugar)

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About 20 years ago I was on an anti-candida diet, which I did very well on. After the first month or so I started adding fruits. I used small amounts of pureed fruit (like bananas, pears, pineapple, applesauce...) and stevia to sweeten baked goods. After not eating anything sweet, it tasted so good. Stevia and fruit compliment each other very well. Dates would be wonderful, but very high glycemic, probably best for the very hardest of souls.
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:49 PM   #24
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Dates?
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Old 10-12-2008, 01:20 PM   #25
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I'm curious about your anti-candida diet -- what did you eat/not eat (besides sugar)
The anti-candida diet has probably changed over the years. When I was doing it, I avoided many of the starchy vegetables and grains, vinegar, hard cheese, sugar, honey, and maybe others that I've forgoten. I ate very simple with proteins, vegetables, nuts, eggs, soft type cheese, and small amounts of fruit, brown rice and beans. I was on it while I was pregnant because of yeast problems. I had a tendency to miscarry after my 30's, and the diet really helped me.
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:28 PM   #26
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jacksmixedtape. I commend you!

It must be clarified the importance of using raw, cold-extracted honey.

I have to admit it; I am a little biased when it comes to honey. After all I am a beekeeper. When I am visiting the hives and I hear the orchestra of happy buzzing and feel the life all around me, I feel like I have just stepped into a class room and the bees become the teachers.

I prefer honey to an alternative sweetener for many reasons. The most obvious reason is flavor. another is its uniqueness among sweeteners. To me an alternative sweetener is what I use when I have no honey.

I view all sugars as nectars. Whether from leaf, stem, root, fruit, flower, this food can only be made by plant manufacturing centers using the suns power. My cupboard has many types of sweeteners. You will find organic cane, maize, raisins, dates, molasses, maple syrup, coconut powder, agave, and stevia. I even have many rudimentary powders such as sucrose, fructose, dextrose, and even xylitol. The refined ones I donít consume; but keep as contributions to my education. I find that each natural sweetener varies greatly in its nutritional profile. This depends on the plant it comes from.
Bees can get nectar from many sources besides flowers. Basically anything sweet is game. Honey can contain nectar from sap, leaves, fallen fruit, etc.

Comparatively speaking, I have an innate attraction to honey because of its morphological uniqueness among sweeteners. It is the only predigested sweetener I know prepared for easy digestion while offering a variety of flavors as wide as the mixed colors on an artistís pallet.
The sugar content of honey is similar to fruit, however it also contains 20 other sugars and several enzymes which should not be overlooked. These are the key difference it honeys ability to absorb so naturally into the body.

Few people know that honey is a first-aid ointment. It actually produces Hydrogen peroxide when diluted. On a cut or wound it allows for the ideal environment for healing.

Honey also has the ability to restore vital glycogen stores in the body with the greatest amount of ease and efficiency. For this reason, its GI is not of major stress or concern. Have you ever heard of an unhealthy addiction to honey?

I could go on for ten pages...

Unfortunately, honey that maintains its unique biological features are virtually non-existent commercially.

There is a growing awareness that commercial honey is heated and/or filtered rendering it hardly more valuable than corn syrup. This is not a problem for me because I eat what my bees give me raw. Still, I am concerned by things I see happening all in the name of industry. I recognize honey is not the only victim on the store shelves; it is but one of many foods that fall within the abuse of manufacturing. When it comes to sugars all are heated and processed if even only a little such as dates.

In my collection of sweeteners, there are a growing number of store bought honeys my curiosity had to buy. Some are actually good, although most are questionable at best. In comparison to what I am use to, all are ruined and lack many essences that can only be enjoyed in fresh raw honey. Notably, Iíve sampled from some containers a lingering taste awkwardly similar to motor oil. Unfortunately much of the honey in stores is sold as raw or natural and organic even though it has been mildly heated. This is a allowed due to a general acceptances surrounding the term "raw".

Biologically, raw honey has a GI index of 30 but this rises to around 60 when processed. That is near the same level as table sugar. Hmm something is missing here, No wonder honey is not given the recognition it deserves.

Fortunately, studies are helping to find redemption for this natural super food returning it to its rightful pedestal. As a result there is a growing number of honey producers who seek to bring true raw honey to the market. Remember, you get what you pay for.

One read I recommend is a recently published book called "The Honey Revolution".

It explains some of the latest studies showing how honey taken before bed helps to promote restorative sleep, weight loss, and better health.

True raw honey needs to be re-discovered.
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:20 PM   #27
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From my reading, it's my understanding that fructose is processed by the liver and able to be stored as FAT, and doesn't hit your bloodstream the same way that other forms of sugar do, hence the "low glycemic impact" - once I learned that (from Dr. Michael Eades' blog) I pretty much quit using agave, which was too bad because I loved the taste of it.

I don't use honey either because it DOES cause an insulin release. I DO have some sugarfree honey (xylitol) that tastes about the same and acts about the same, so when I want honey flavor, that's what I use. Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol - it is not QUITE as low-impact as erythritol and causes SOME people some stomach distress, but I've never had it bother me in small amounts.

HTH, Lauren and HB! Again, this is my interpretation of Dr. Eades' post, you can always go to his blog and search on "agave" and I'm sure you'll turn up his FAR more scientific explanation!
Fructose is required for the building of Glycogen in the liver. Fibers help to slow the release of fructose however fiber is not required in honey since it is a predigested food. Enzymes like Invertase, and diastase, help to convert honey quickly.

Honey is no different than Corn syrup after it has been heated and filtered such as is the case with store bought honey. Refined sugars leech nutrients from the body.

I have to agree that xylitol is a carb free sweetener but does that make it a carb diets best friend? Isn't health the true end goal?

Sugar free honey contains no honey and tastes awful. It is made of Xylitol, water, honey flavor, xanthan gum, citric acid, sorbic acid, and caramel coloring. Its like a candy and contains nearly as many carbs as reall honey (4% vs 6%)

When it comes to sugar, or any food for that matter, I ask myself if I can tell how refined the contents are. The least refined sweeteners are raw honey, dried fruits, raw cane juice, and green Stevia leaves.

One of the most incorrect statements I have ever found in my research claimed that honey raises unhealthy triglycerides in the blood and causes weight gain.

I would hope this helps.
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:22 PM   #28
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jacksmixedtape. I commend you!

It must be clarified the importance of using raw, cold-extracted honey.

I have to admit it; I am a little biased when it comes to honey. After all I am a beekeeper. When I am visiting the hives and I hear the orchestra of happy buzzing and feel the life all around me, I feel like I have just stepped into a class room and the bees become the teachers.

I prefer honey to an alternative sweetener for many reasons. The most obvious reason is flavor. another is its uniqueness among sweeteners. To me an alternative sweetener is what I use when I have no honey.

I view all sugars as nectars. Whether from leaf, stem, root, fruit, flower, this food can only be made by plant manufacturing centers using the suns power. My cupboard has many types of sweeteners. You will find organic cane, maize, raisins, dates, molasses, maple syrup, coconut powder, agave, and stevia. I even have many rudimentary powders such as sucrose, fructose, dextrose, and even xylitol. The refined ones I donít consume; but keep as contributions to my education. I find that each natural sweetener varies greatly in its nutritional profile. This depends on the plant it comes from.
Bees can get nectar from many sources besides flowers. Basically anything sweet is game. Honey can contain nectar from sap, leaves, fallen fruit, etc.

Comparatively speaking, I have an innate attraction to honey because of its morphological uniqueness among sweeteners. It is the only predigested sweetener I know prepared for easy digestion while offering a variety of flavors as wide as the mixed colors on an artistís pallet.
The sugar content of honey is similar to fruit, however it also contains 20 other sugars and several enzymes which should not be overlooked. These are the key difference it honeys ability to absorb so naturally into the body.

Few people know that honey is a first-aid ointment. It actually produces Hydrogen peroxide when diluted. On a cut or wound it allows for the ideal environment for healing.

Honey also has the ability to restore vital glycogen stores in the body with the greatest amount of ease and efficiency. For this reason, its GI is not of major stress or concern. Have you ever heard of an unhealthy addiction to honey?

I could go on for ten pages...

Unfortunately, honey that maintains its unique biological features are virtually non-existent commercially.

There is a growing awareness that commercial honey is heated and/or filtered rendering it hardly more valuable than corn syrup. This is not a problem for me because I eat what my bees give me raw. Still, I am concerned by things I see happening all in the name of industry. I recognize honey is not the only victim on the store shelves; it is but one of many foods that fall within the abuse of manufacturing. When it comes to sugars all are heated and processed if even only a little such as dates.

In my collection of sweeteners, there are a growing number of store bought honeys my curiosity had to buy. Some are actually good, although most are questionable at best. In comparison to what I am use to, all are ruined and lack many essences that can only be enjoyed in fresh raw honey. Notably, Iíve sampled from some containers a lingering taste awkwardly similar to motor oil. Unfortunately much of the honey in stores is sold as raw or natural and organic even though it has been mildly heated. This is a allowed due to a general acceptances surrounding the term "raw".

Biologically, raw honey has a GI index of 30 but this rises to around 60 when processed. That is near the same level as table sugar. Hmm something is missing here, No wonder honey is not given the recognition it deserves.

Fortunately, studies are helping to find redemption for this natural super food returning it to its rightful pedestal. As a result there is a growing number of honey producers who seek to bring true raw honey to the market. Remember, you get what you pay for.

One read I recommend is a recently published book called "The Honey Revolution".

It explains some of the latest studies showing how honey taken before bed helps to promote restorative sleep, weight loss, and better health.

True raw honey needs to be re-discovered.
From a fellow bee-keeper who harvests the honey in a 100% raw manor (no-heat extraction and jarring process) and enjoys eating it and serving it to my 6 children!

Blessings,
Shirley -- Phase 3 -- Total hcg loss: 88.8 pounds in 3 rounds totaling 145 VLCD days!
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Old 03-05-2012, 04:33 PM   #29
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shirleychef I am glad when I hear that beekeepers value the nature of raw honey. Beekeeping is fun especially with kids and there is so much to learn. How many hives do you maintain.
Fortunately, Beekeepers with 10 or less hives get raw honey by default because they use only basic equipment. Many beekeepers bring their honey to be extracted by a honey house where they end up getting ruined honey back in return. And for those who operate 100+ hives, the temptation is just too great not to incorporate standard processes unless a system of moral conviction is already in place. When shopping for extracting equipment you almost have to consciously turn down default equipment that make extracting easier and faster but ruin honey.
This is why it is too hard to find raw honey on the market. We bought some equipment from a man who advertised "Raw local honey" we looked at his operation and saw that he was running his crop through a water tank to heat it. To his defense he claimed that honey can still be considered raw if it doesn't get much over 110 degrees.
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Old 03-05-2012, 05:16 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by jacksmixedtape View Post
What are your opinions, if you use either of these two?

So here's my question: Do y'all think there's a benefit to using agave nectar in place of the honey because of its lower glycemic index? Both honey and agave contain 17 grams of carbs per tablespoon. There's a much higher proportion of fructose in agave, which seems so much less natural. The processors of agave also have to boil the sap for hours. Doesn't seem like there would be any nutrients left vs. in raw, unpasteurized honey. Yes, the baking will "cook" the honey, but at least it won't be doubly heated! Thoughts? Am I overthinking this?
My biggest argument for raw honey is that it is a ready predigested food full of enzymes and natural yeast. This being said I encourage getting in into foods without heating it (consume it raw). Very important. I take honey before sleep as an energy booster which pays back more in positive results than its GI. I would call it a new paradigm in Carb counting.
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