By Dr Sara Robb
Beauty and the Bees begins with an Introduction by nutritionist Domingo J .Piñero, discussing the importance of honey as a functional food and how honey, as a part of a nutritious diet, can keep you young and healthy. The aging process is discussed in Chapter 1. The cause of aging is oxidative damage and anti-oxidants, in our diets and in our beauty products, can decrease the signs of aging. Honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly and bee bread are all rich in anti-oxidants and can be used to fight oxidative stress. Chapter 2 examines the anti-oxidants in bee products and their value as dietary supplements, functional foods, and in home remedies and cosmetics. The bee product with the broadest usage is honey. Honey is a functional food, a supplement, and an active ingredient in remedies and beauty products. Chapter 3 examines the levels of polyphenol anti-oxidants, in a selection of mono-floral honey. Dietary anti-oxidants can slow the effects of aging. You can use the colour of honey to select honey varieties high in anti-oxidants, the darker the colour, the higher the anti-oxidants. Substituting some of the sugar in your diet with honey will significantly increase your physiological levels of anti-oxidants and can slow the aging process. Recommendations for incorporating honey into culinary recipes are made in Chapter 4.
The recipes in Chapter 5 through Chapter 8 are culinary recipes designed to increase dietary anti-oxidants. Suggestions on how to start your day with honey anti-oxidants are in Chapter 5. While most of us think of sweet food when we think of food containing honey, honey adds flavour and anti-oxidants to savoury dishes as well. Chapter 6 contains recipes for savoury dishes, including tasty starters and delicious main dishes. We all enjoy desserts and sweet treats now and then. Baked goods and confection recipes, made with honey, feature in Chapter 7 and Chapter 8. Baked goods and confections represent an easy opportunity to replace sugar with anti-oxidant rich honey. Adding honey to recipes increases the levels of vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids and anti-oxidants in the recipe compared to the same treat made with sugar alone.
As well as increasing anti-oxidants in food, bee products have had a place through history in remedies and other home products. Beeswax, propolis and honey have medicinal qualities that lend themselves to home remedies. Recipes for Aunt Bea’s Remedies are in Chapter 9, including remedies for colds, skin conditions and even to help the little ones off to sleep. In addition to use in home remedies, honey, propolis and beeswax have also been very important ingredients in other cosmetics, such as soaps and moisture creams. The spotlight of Chapters 10 and 11 is on how to incorporate honey, beeswax and propolis into soaps and creams for added healing properties and anti-aging activity. The anti-oxidant properties of honey, beeswax and propolis greatly improve toiletries made with these functional ingredients. The recipes in Beauty and the Bees are written in US, Imperial and metric units. Appendix 1 is a handy reference to convert between these units and contains information about volume and weight measurements as well as temperature conversions between Fahrenheit and Celsius. Appendix 2 is taken from Jonathan W. White’s Composition of American Honeys (1962). A selection of honey varieties are listed by honey colour. While this appendix includes data collected on only US honeys, it is a good source of information about honey colour by botanical source, which can be used as a predictor of the levels of anti-oxidants in honey varieties.