Honey is made by bees from the nectar they forage from flowers. A cave painting from Valencia shows that humans were foraging for honey as long as 8000 years ago, and it has been a popular food and herbal remedy ever since.
The nutritional make up of honey varies from hive to hive, according to the bee species, the location, and which types of nectar were foraged. It is a mix of sugars, comprising mostly fructose together with glucose, maltose and sucrose. Although it contains only trace amounts of other nutrients, it is very rich in bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants.
The antioxidants in honey are known to help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, as well as protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals. Honey can reduce blood triglycerides, which are a risk factor for both diabetes and heart disease. It can also be an alternative sweetener in moderation for someone who is already diabetic, as it does not raise blood sugar as much or as quickly as processed sugar does.
Honey is also thought to help boost the immune system, and studies have found that it is more effective in soothing a cough than many cough medicines.
Honey can also be applied topically to the skin, where it is known to be effective in healing burns and wounds.