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Turn up the heat on health by embracing the goodness of hot honey

Turn up the heat on health by embracing the goodness of hot honey

"Hot" honey - honey that has been infused with cayenne, habanero, or chili peppers - is taking the culinary world by storm.  Aficionados say that this flavorful combination of "sweet" and "heat" can help elevate everyday dishes to a whole new level.

As if that weren't reason enough to try this new taste sensation, both honey and chili peppers offer gifts to overall health.  Because hot honey is a recent innovation, it hasn't been the subject of much research.  However, multiple studies have already showcased the therapeutic properties of both honey and chili peppers.  Let's look at the "head-to-toe" health benefits of this irresistible combination.  You might be amazed!

Honey benefits the cardiovascular system

The fact that honey has health benefits isn't exactly news.  However, the reputation of this sweet substance received a significant boost with the publication of a 2020 review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  The authors concluded that honey promotes heart health by reducing oxidative stress, helping to lower blood pressure, decreasing harmful LDL cholesterol levels, supporting normal heartbeat, and preventing the death of cells.  Honey also contains propolis, which helps to lower triglycerides, or fats, in the blood.  There's no doubt about it: honey has the "right stuff" to support a happy heart!

Honey supports immune health

As if honey's heart-protective abilities weren't impressive enough, it has natural antibacterial properties that may help prevent infections.  Yet another "secret weapon" in honey is its high content of oligosaccharides. These complex carbohydrates promote a healthy balance in the gut microbiome (the community of bacteria in the intestinal tract).  As the microbiome plays a vital role in immune health, metabolism, and mood, this is a definite "plus."  By the way, honey also increases adiponectin levels - an anti-inflammatory hormone that improves blood sugar regulation.  Finally, integrative healthcare professionals recognize honey as a gentle, effective throat soother and cough suppressant.

Capsaicin-rich chili peppers may help protect against degenerative disease

Chili peppers and other hot, spicy peppers such as habanero and cayenne are rich in capsaicin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.  Researchers say that this can translate to potential life-prolonging effects.  According to an analysis presented in 2020 at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions, consumption of chili peppers may reduce the risk of death from any cause by a substantial 25 percent.  (Eating chilis also reduces the risk of cardiovascular mortality by up to 26 percent and the risk of death from cancer by 23 percent.  That's a substantial payoff from merely enjoying spicy peppers regularly!)

And capsaicin has another nifty "trick" - the ability to bind with pain receptors and provide analgesic effects over time.  Although doctors have traditionally warned people with digestive problems to avoid hot peppers, one fascinating five-week study showed that eating 2.5 grams of red chili peppers a day had the surprising effect of first worsening - but then steadily improving - pain from acid reflux.  Finally, laboratory tests have suggested that capsaicin can inhibit the H. pylori bacteria implicated in stomach ulcers.

Use sweet and savory hot honey to enhance your favorite foods

You can find hot honey online or at your local market, health food store, or produce stand.  Feeling ambitious?  You can make your own hot honey by simmering eight ounces of raw honey with three coarsely chopped red chili or habanero peppers for five minutes.  Allow the mixture to cool, strain out the peppers, and store in a tightly closed container.  By the way, the darker the honey, the higher the content of "good guy" antioxidant flavonoids.

To start enjoying the advantages of hot honey, drizzle it over roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower.  Add it to cabbage salad or coleslaw for a note of sweetness, or use it to add richness to marinades, sauces, and salad dressings.  You can also mix hot honey with Greek yogurt and crushed almonds, pecans, or sunflower seeds.  For an unforgettable combination, use it to accent a platter of Brie cheese, sliced apples, and walnuts.  Or, employ it to make a memorable iced tea, lemonade, or spicy smoothie.

Of course, you'll want to enjoy hot honey (which is high in natural sugars) in moderation.  And, never give hot honey - or any other type of honey - to infants under a year old.

Hot honey is a fantastic addition to your healthy diet when eaten in judicious amounts and used as a replacement for refined sugars.

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