Jun 18, 2018

Are Bee Products Any Better Than Sugar?

By Ruth Elnekave, CNP
A scoop of bee pollen in half a coconut on a white background, surrounded by raw honeycomb, raw honey drizzle, and a wooden honey dripper.

Dear Ruthy, I see that you’re quite a fan of bee products at Joya, but I always thought of them as just a (slightly healthier) form of sugar. Am I missing something?

I’m so glad you asked this question, as all bee products – in their unprocessed (or “raw”) form, are truly some of nature’s most powerful superfoods! If not for the pollinating activity of bees, we also wouldn’t have so many of the wonderful foods that we eat, including some of my favourites: avocado, papaya, citrus, squash, sesame, coconut, almonds, walnuts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, brussels sprouts and coffee (just to name a few)! Here’s the low-down on our favourites, but I encourage you to learn even more through expert sources such as the Canadian Honey Council and our bee product friends, Beekeeper’s Naturals(who offer all of the bee products below, including one super-product that contains all four: the unBEElievable Bee Powered).  

Bee Pollen: Energy, Protein & Nutrient Powerhouse, Anti-inflammatory, Immunity

Bee pollen is a ball of pollen packed by worker honeybees into little pellets. From a nutritional perspective, bee pollen is much more potent than flower pollen because honey bee secretions induce a fermentation process that breaks down the walls of flower pollen grains and make the nutrients more absorbable. Bee pollen is the bees’ power source, and when you think about all the heavy lifting they do – carrying almost half their body weight back to the hive every day – they need a serious source of fuel!  Considered one of nature’s most nourishing foods, bee pollen contains almost all of the nutrients required by humans to thrive. It boasts more protein per gram than any animal product and is jam packed with amino acids (broken down protein), making it easily absorbable by the body. It’s also a source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fats (including essential fatty acids). Bee pollen is actually responsible for the many health benefits of raw honey, as the honey contains small amounts of pollen. Pollen is the ultimate energizing superfood! How to use: I love this sprinkled on toast, granola, elixirs and lattes…  just about EVERYTHING! 

Raw Honey: Nutrients, Enzymes & Antioxidants, Immunity

Unlike most commercial honey that’s been processed under high heat and filtered, raw honey is honey in its pure, unfiltered (it still contains little bits of bee pollen) and unpasteurized form, and therefore its nutritional value and other health benefits are kept intact. Raw honey is so rich in enzymes that it’s the only food on the planet that never goes bad! It’s also often referred to as both a perfect pre-workout fuel and post-workout energy source since its natural sugars provide an easily absorbed supply of energy in the form of glycogen and it boasts vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants. How to use: We love adding raw honey to all of our beverages (it provides the perfect floral sweetness added to our matcha Focus Superblend), drizzled on pancakes, waffles, toast and oatmeal, or by the spoonful!  

Homemade pancakes topped with coconut whipped cream, sliced baked apples, a cinnamon stick, and drizzled with raw honey.
(Photo by Jennifer Pallian)  

Propolis: Immunity & Antioxidants

Propolis is a sticky substance bees make from collecting plant and tree resins, typically available for human use in spray format. Just as it acts as the “immune system” of the hive, it has very similar immunity-boosting effects in our bodies. In fact, due to its potent its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, it’s often referred to as “nature’s antibiotic!” How to use: I take 2 sprays of my propolis throat spray daily to keep my immune system strong, and I up that to 10-20 sprays a day if I feel something coming on or to fight off a cold, flu or sore throat (although I didn’t get sick once this past winter season!)  

Royal Jelly: Brain Food, Immunity

Royal jelly is a nutritious substance produced by young nurse bees as the exclusive food of the “royal” queen bee. Not only is it a nutrient-dense potion, but it can also help boost the immune system and it’s been shown to be a powerful “brain food” due to its beneficial effect on neural functions. How to use: On days when I feel like I need some help with extra focus and clarity, I take a ½ to 1 vile of BLXR (which also contains two other potent brain foods: Ginkgo biloba and Bacopa).  
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Ruth Elnekave, Founder and CEO of JOYÀ
by Ruth Elnekave, CNP

Ruth Elnekave is a Toronto-based chef, holistic nutritionist, culinary instructor, recovering corporate lawyer and founder of JOYÀ. Her projects are fuelled by one main goal: to spread the pure joy and wellbeing experienced when sharing and savouring delicious, real food.