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Why Boiling Honey is Bad for your Health?

Apologies to all the sticky Chai lovers! Boiling honey, whilst delicious, is generally discouraged due to the potential alterations it can induce in its chemical composition and nutritional properties. Honey is a complex mixture of sugars, water, and various compounds, including enzymes, antioxidants, and volatile organic compounds, which contribute to its unique flavour, aroma, and health benefits. When subjected to high temperatures, such as boiling, honey undergoes chemical changes that can impact its characteristics. One of the primary concerns with heating honey is the breakdown of its natural sugars. Heating honey causes the sugars, primarily glucose and fructose, to undergo caramelization, resulting in the formation of new compounds and altering the taste and color of the honey. This caramelization process can lead to the formation of undesirable flavors and aromas, diminishing the quality of the honey.

Boiling honey destroys valuable nutrients + antioxidants

Moreover, excessive heat can denature or destroy the enzymes present in honey. Enzymes such as invertase, diastase, and glucose oxidase play essential roles in honey, contributing to its antimicrobial properties, viscosity, and ability to crystallize. Heating honey beyond certain temperatures can deactivate these enzymes, reducing its potential health benefits. Furthermore, scientific research suggests that heating honey can reduce its antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, thereby contributing to overall health and well-being. Studies have shown that exposure to heat can degrade the antioxidant compounds present in honey, potentially diminishing its antioxidative properties.

Boiling honey produces a toxin called 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF)

When honey is subjected to heating or cooking, the sugars, particularly glucose and fructose, undergo a chemical transformation known as the Maillard Reaction. This reaction occurs between amino acids and reducing sugars in the honey when exposed to heat, leading to the formation of various compounds responsible for the characteristic browning and flavour changes observed in heated foods. Additionally, prolonged heating or storage of honey can increase the production of a toxic substance known as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). This compound is formed through the dehydration and breakdown of sugars in honey, particularly glucose, under conditions of high temperature and acidity. While small amounts of HMF are naturally present in honey, excessive levels may indicate overheating or prolonged storage, which can compromise the quality and safety of the honey.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that heating honey can accelerate the formation of HMF, with levels increasing significantly at higher temperatures and longer heating times. Elevated levels of HMF in honey have been associated with potential health risks, including mutagenic and carcinogenic effects, although the extent of these risks remains a subject of debate and further research. In light of these considerations, it’s advisable to handle honey with care to preserve its natural integrity and minimize the formation of HMF. Avoiding prolonged heating or storage at high temperatures can help maintain the quality and safety of honey, ensuring that its beneficial properties are retained for optimal enjoyment and health benefits.

You can still savor your cups of tea with a touch of honey to sweeten by adopting a simple practice. Allow your cuppa to cool for about five minutes, letting the beverage drop below boiling point. This gentle approach ensures that the delicate properties of honey remain intact, allowing you to fully enjoy its array of benefits. By incorporating honey into your tea after it has cooled slightly, you can preserve its natural goodness while enhancing the flavour of your favorite brew.

Caraka Samhita. Sutrasthana XXVII. Verse 243-248

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