According to Greek mythology, the ancient gods of Mount Olympus, like Zeus and Athena, used to eat nectar and ambrosia to maintain their healthy looks and perform their rather unusual human-like activities. Although scholars have not yet concluded on what exactly ambrosia was for ancient Greeks, nectar in botany is a sugar-rich liquid produced by the flowers of plants in order to attract pollinating insects, like honeybees, essential for honey production. Nectar is produced in glands called nectaries, which are located at the base of the perianth, so as to allow pollinators perform their role and accessing the flower’s reproductive structures, the anthers and pistil, while collecting the nectar the flower produces.
The collected nectar is then transported by honeybees to combs where honey is produced. Honey is a sweet and viscous fluid, significantly sweeter than table sugar and has very attractive chemical properties for baking. With its distinct flavor, which leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners, honey is a type of food that has great benefits for the human body and its consumption promotes contemporary nutritional habits and healthy dietary demands. Categorized both as a type of food and a natural medicine, honey has been used by a variety of civilizations for different reasons. Ancient Egyptians used it to preserve their dead (mummies), Roman’s as an important cosmetic ingredient and it is mentioned even in the Christian Bible.
Many types of honey exist today and the recent technological developments have created the best possible conditions for honey production and have contributed to its different uses in medicine, food and cosmetic industries. But unfortunately, chemical substances used to increase the honey production and meet the greater demand existing today, have resulted in deteriorating its natural ingredients and even making it dangerous, in rare and extreme cases, for human consumption.
Contemporary consumers have the ability to protect their health by buying honey that is produced by professionals and thus minimize the risk of consuming a product that will not benefit the human body. But even when the honey purchased is produced in accordance to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Guidelines, it is extremely important for us to maintain the appropriate storage conditions and prolong its duration by promoting its safe use. Specifically, honey has to be stored in cool places and we have to avoid storing it close to electric appliances or near sunny windows that raise the temperature in the storage shelve or room. Any kind of utensil used to retrieve honey out of its container has to be totally clean and without any kind of moisture on it. Honey-lovers should follow these simple instructions in order to keep their purchased honey longer and their minds at rest regarding its safe use.