While honey is a health elixir, it’s also a commonly used ingredient in a lot of dishes and has a lot of takers. However, according to some beliefs, honey is one food item which should never be exposed to heat, or cooked, which could potentially turn toxic.
We also came across one such post on social media recently, which talks of the one food item people must not order while eating from outside, warning people of the bad ill-effects.
According to a recent post doing the rounds on the internet, honey-chilli potato, which is a popular appetizer served at Indian and Asian restaurants, could be bad for our health.
The post further testifies that Ayurvedic beliefs suggest that honey should never be heated, as it can turn toxic and induce harmful problems for the body and be the root cause of several diseases.
The post, which has received quite a lot of traction on the internet also suggests that modern science, too, never suggests cooking honey. But, is there any truth behind this claim?
We asked two nutritionists to weigh in on the same:
Honey is often used as a substitute for sugar and contains fewer calories and better health benefits. However, it is always said that one must be a little careful before consuming honey as it is. As a rule, honey should never be pasteurized or cooked before it is purchased. Some also go on to say that honey should never be heated, or added to extremely hot milk or water, as it can ruin its digestive properties and make it unsafe for consumption.
As per Ayurvedic practitioner Dr Deepa Apte, there’s a strong reason why honey is the most beneficial in its natural, organic form, as cooked or processed honey can turn toxic for our body’s defences. She says,
“Ayurvedic beliefs suggest that honey is best consumed in its natural goodness or raw. Warm or cooked honey has the tendency to cause “ama” in the body, which is kind of toxic substance which forms when the body faces problems indigestion. As honey slowly gets digested in the body, its properties turn similar to that of a poison, which in turn can lead to many different diseases.”
While Dr Apte does add that a lot of it depends on the cooking process and the temperature it is exposed to, heated honey may not always guarantee the same health benefits as it does in its natural form.
Sheela Krishnaswamy, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, while advising moderated consumption of packaged, processed junk foods adds that honey, in its warm form, may cause digestive ailments and even turn carcinogenic, if exposed to extremely high temperatures.
“Nutritional science says that honey turns toxic when exposed to direct heat and it starts to kill many properties and natural enzymes which are supposed to help you. Heating honey higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, for more than 2 hours will cause rapid degradation and decay.”
She also adds a word of caution for people who buy honey off stores. “Consumers should be careful about the make and origin of their honey. A lot of store-bought honey goes through processing beforehand and stored in plastic containers, which aren’t ideal for use.”
What’s the best way to consume honey then?
Honey, no doubt is one of the best foods for your body, with its loaded antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. While one must taper down the consumption of calorie-laden foods like honey-chilli potatoes, or have it occasionally, honey is best had when mixed with a glass of lukewarm water or warm milk. Natural honey can also be added as part of salad dressings, tea or coffee and other desserts.