We all know how good honey is for you. But pollen?
If you are one of the millions of Britons suffering from hay fever, you might not see the benefit.
But what if told you that bee pollen contains pretty much every essential micronutrient the human body needs to stay fit and healthy? It’s no wonder bees can spend all day flying virtual marathons collecting the stuff they need to grow their hives.
Before we get into the frankly staggering portfolio of health benefits bee pollen offers, it’s interesting to understand why bees collect it in the first place.
Inside The Bee Bakery
When you see a bee flying around your garden, bouncing from flower to flower, it’s collecting pollen. The bee mixes the pollen with a small amount of saliva and stores it in special packs on its hind legs. Returning to the hive, the bee deposits its pollen load into a honeycomb cell, then covers it with a layer of honey and wax.
The honey and wax ferment with the pollen, much like yeast does in dough. The result is what we call bee bread, and it’s the primary source of protein for the hive.
What makes bee pollen so nutritious?
Bees lead busy lives, so naturally, their primary food source is highly nutritious, and loaded with energy. Bee pollen — that is, bee bread — is mostly carbohydrates, including simple sugars, and protein. Around 10% of that protein is made up of essential amino acids (ones your body can’t make on its own.) The pollen is also rich in fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and B vitamins.
- Vitamins A, E and D (fat-soluble)
- Vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C (water-soluble)
- Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, silicon and selenium
What’s the difference between water and fat-soluble vitamins?
Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed easily by the body — since you’re mostly water. Any excess you take in, is simply expelled in your urine. Fat-soluble vitamins tend to stick around for longer, binding to fat and getting stored in your tissue.
Flavonoids are an incredibly diverse family of nutrients, found in all sorts of foods, from onions to peppers, and bee pollen is especially rich with them. They have several roles, perhaps most notable of which are the ones they play as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
Taken over time, flavonoids have been shown to have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, the nervous system, and on helping to detoxify the liver.
Anti-inflammatories and antioxidants for active people
The anti-inflammatories in bee pollen are great for helping to reduce systemic inflammation caused by conditions such as arthritis, and by regular exercise. If you’re very active, while your body will thank you in the long run, your tissues and joints can take a bit of a beating and become inflamed. Anti-inflammatories can take the sting out of inflammation and help you to recover faster.
Antioxidants can help to neutralise harmful free radicals in your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules, which fly around your body stealing electrons from stable molecules. As a result, cells become damaged, which can have minor, but eventually major negative effects on your health.
For more, watch this incredible time-lapse video of bees building a hive from scratch.