Many of the snack foods available today on supermarket shelves - including those which are marketed as healthy choices for growing kids - are packed with refined sugars, loaded with unhealthy fats, and contain a suite of artificial ingredients with names that are hard to pronounce, let alone identify. We all want to offer our families snacks we can feel good about, but it's not easy to find options with the right balance of taste, nutrition, and convenience - and the exaggerated claims on supermarket packaging don't help. If you're seeking a simple way to add sweet, healthy treats into your family's diet, take a moment to consider the benefits and uses of hemp-infused honey.Honey as a delicious (and nutritious) superfood
Honey is one of the oldest sweeteners known to humankind, and it also has a long history of medicinal uses including healing wounds, soothing coughs, and calming upset stomachs. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (1), and is safe for most members of the family to eat. Note, though, that honey is not recommended for babies under a year, as in rare cases it can cause a form of infant botulism (2). Toddlers and older kids can be safely introduced to honey, and there are many benefits to including it in your family's diet. These include its usefulness as a healthier choice of sweetener and the beneficial role it plays in promoting good gut health.
Honey as a healthier sweetener
We all love sweet foods, but an unfortunate curse of our modern, supermarket-driven era is that we're surrounded by far too many of them. It's not good for us to begin our days with cereals sweetened by refined sugar, snack on sugary muesli bars for morning tea, slurp down soft drinks packed with corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, eat highly sweetened yoghurt after lunch, and so on throughout the day. While it does still need to be consumed in moderation (particularly for diabetics and those at risk of developing diabetes), honey is a much healthier choice of sweetener than the refined sugars which loom large in so many processed foods. One reason for this is that honey has a lower glycemic index value than refined sugar, so your body processes and absorbs it more slowly and your blood sugar levels are less likely to spike in unhealthy ways. Another reason is that (unlike refined sugar, which offers empty calories and little nutritional value) honey contains small amounts of vitamin C, calcium, enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and other health-promoting nutrients(3).
Honey's role in promoting good gut health
The story of honey's role in gut health is a fascinating one. Basically, certain types of honey act as a prebiotic, meaning that they encourage the growth of good bacteria (and discourage the growth of bad bacteria) within the human digestive tract. Maintaining the right balance of good bacteria in your gut plays a key role in your overall health, with research suggesting that imbalances can play a role in gastrointestinal upsets, obesity, allergies, mental health, and even serious health conditions such as cancer (4). When it comes to functioning as a prebiotic, not all honey is created equal, with a study by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation identifying Australian eucalypt honey as being particularly beneficial (5). This means that if you're concerned about gut health, you should be reaching for eucalypt honeys (including leatherwood, jarrah, and spotted gum) in preference to cheaper imports.
The benefits of combining honey with hemp
Healthy as honey is (particularly when compared to refined sugars or artificial sweeteners), it does have some limitations. It isn't a source of protein or fibre, and it only contains trace amounts of minerals like magnesium and potassium - and that's where the combination of hemp and honey really comes into its own. Hemp-infused honey gives you and your family all the benefits of both of these superfoods, including honey's sweet, kid-friendly taste and all the advantages of nutrient-dense hemp seeds. This can be particularly useful if you have a sweet tooth, or if you're trying to transition your family away from 'healthy' supermarket snacks which are loaded with refined sugars. Infused honey is also one of the simplest ways to introduce the benefits of hemp into your family's diet even if you have family members who are resistant to trying new things. After all, what could be more familiar than a comforting breakfast of honey on toast?
How to include hemp and honey in your diet
In fact, the ease of incorporating hemp-infused honey into your diet is one of the best things about it. Keeping a jar in the pantry opens the door to an incredible array of uses, and you won't need to nag to get your kids to eat it. To get you started, here are a selection of delicious ways to enjoy hemp-infused honey, though you're sure to think of plenty more.
• Spread it on crumpets, rice crackers, or whole grain bread
• Dollop it into fruit smoothies (and add some hemp protein powder if you want to sneak in some extra nutrition)
• Make sandwiches with honey and slices of fresh banana
• Swirl it through unsweetened Greek yoghurt and add fresh berries or kiwi fruit slices
• Drizzle it on top of your favourite healthy cereal or porridge
• Sprinkle it with cinnamon and use it as a dip for slices of apple or homemade pita chips
You can also use hemp-infused honey as a sweetener in recipes you make as a special treat for your family, combining the advantages of honey over refined sugars with the extra nutrients added by the hemp. Try these simple, tasty recipes to get you started:
• Mini fruit balls (https://samskitchen.com.au/recipe/mini-fruit-balls/)
• Five ingredient honey and coconut muesli bars (https://www.healthymummy.com/recipe/honey-coconut-muesli-bars/)
• Cornflake and honey cookies (https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/cornflake-honey-cookies/8c987641-aa80-4003-92d7-1603c8f32cea)
If you're ready to see how hemp and honey can make the perfect superfood topping for your family's snacks, 13 Seeds Hemp Farm sells a delicious combination of premium Tasmanian leatherwood honey and organic hemp protein and fibre. Why not try it today?
(1) Natalia G. Vallianou et al (2014) 'Honey and its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties.' Accessed online at https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/honey-and-its-anti-inflammatory-anti-bacterial-and-anti-oxidant-2327-5146.1000132.php?aid=23335 on 5/2/2019.
(2) Ashley Marcin (2018) 'When is it safe for babies to eat honey?' Accessed online at https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/when-can-babies-eat-honey on 5/2/2019.
(3) 'Honey vs sugar: 5 reasons honey is better for you than sugar' (2017). Accessed online at https://onafoods.com/blogs/news/honey-vs-sugar-5-reasons-honey-is-better-for-you-than-sugar on 5/2/2019.
(4) ABC's The Science Show (2017), 'Honey offers beneficial boost to our gut bacteria.' Episode available for download at https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/honey-offers-beneficial-boost-to-our-biome/8541442.
(5) Farm Online News (2014) 'Honey good for gut health.' Accessed online at https://www.farmonline.com.au/story/3575491/honey-good-for-gut-health/ on 5/2/2019.