What is bee pollen and why is it a superfood?
Did you know that bee pollen is a superfood? The latest research shows that there are at least ten major health benefits awaiting those who incorporate bee pollen into their diet.
Would you like to know more? At Papy’s, we know a thing or two about bee pollen, having been committed to pure, small scale production for over 50 years.
In this article, we examine what bee pollen is, run through some of its biggest health benefits, offer some ideas for how to eat it, provide you with some bee pollen tips, and track the use of bee pollen through the ages. Read on…
What is pollen?
Bee pollen, also known as propolis, is balls of pollen which young worker honeybees make by landing on a flower. It consists of pollen, honey or nectar, and saliva. Among the specific components of bee pollen are; protein, sugars, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
The bee pollen balls are carried back in sacs to the hive, where they are stored in the honeycomb. The pollen then serves to feed the bee colony after it ferments, and becomes ‘bee bread’.
Beekeepers are able to collect bee pollen by installing a thick comb in the hive entrance. When bees go through this hive, it knocks off the pollen from the legs and deposits it into a collection bin located below.
The of the quality fields where the bee pollen is collected is hugely important. That’s why we ensure Papy’s fields are free from massive agriculture practices, industries, roads, cities and other pollutants.
What are bee pollen benefits?
So why is bee pollen known as a superfood? There are numerous bee pollen health benefits – and this has fuelled the demand for bee pollen to be harvested for human consumption. Here are some of them:
Bee pollen has been found to possess antioxidant properties which are comparable to fermented foods such as yoghurt and pickles. Common antioxidants – that is, chemicals that occur naturally – include resveratrol, flavonols and vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidants can contribute to keeping people healthy, counteracting oxidants like cigarette smoke or pollutants in the air.
There is also compelling evidence that bee pollen can have an anti-inflammatory effect, as research (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20573205/) has shown the bee pollen extract has the ability to reduce inflammation, although these studies have not yet tested for an anti-inflammatory effect on humans.
– Bolster your immune system
As far as health benefits go, they don’t come much more important than bolstering your immune system, which is vital to keep you healthy and ward off disease. The antifungal, antiviral and antimicrobial properties which are found in bee pollen all help to fight off viruses and bacteria, including those which could cause food poisoning. In animal studies, it has been shown that bee pollen can reduce allergic responses while upping cellular immune responses. This might be due to the high level of steroids that are naturally occurring, and flavonoid compounds.
– Relieving menopause symptoms
If you are a woman, you might be interested to know that bee pollen can relieve menopause symptoms, which can typically be experienced when taking antihormonal medications.
– An effective dietary supplement
Animal studies have also found that bee pollen can work fantastically well as a dietary supplement, and was found to boost reproduction in rabbits. You might find it is a tremendous addition to a healthy and nutritious diet.
– Conducive to quick healing
There is evidence to suggest that bee pollen can contribute to skin healing, because not only can it kill bacteria, but it can also improve blood circulation.
– Stress reducer
Because bee pollen can be effective in boosting the blood flow to the nervous system, it can serve as a stress reducer, while also combatting tiredness.
– Could lower heart disease risk factor
Studies have shown that bee pollen could help to combat high blood cholesterol and blood lipids, which can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease. Another advantage of the recognised anti-oxidants contained within bee pollen is their ability to prevent the oxidising of lipids, which can lead to blood vessel restriction. It should be noted that this research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29258230) is animal, rather than human, based.
– Could bee pollen help to prevent cancer?
There is a possibility that bee pollen could help to treat or prevent cancers, as test tube-based studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17639562) have found that the growth of tumours is inhibited by bee pollen extract. In addition, bee pollen could have anti-estrogen properties that are capable of lowering breast, uterine and prostate cancer risk.
– A boost for liver function?
There are animal studies which have found that bee pollen may assist the liver in breaking down and removing toxins from the blood. Research showed that bee pollen could be effective in boosting the liver’s defence function, and also protecting the liver against damage caused by toxic substances. This is another area in which more human studies are needed in order to augment these initial studies.
– Superb for sports
Did you know that there has been researched conducted which suggests that bee pollen is able to cut recovery time which is needed after intense exercise? A study (https://runnersresource.com/nutrition/researching-effects-bee-pollen-runners/) was undertaken by the former Russian Olympic trainer, Remi Korchemny. It found that as well as promoting quick recovery in runners after intense exercise, it was also conducive to blood pressure and heart rate recovering more quickly, too.
– Good for hair and nails
Bee pollen has been shown to be effective in combatting hair loss. It can also help to strengthen nails and guard against broken nails. Why? Because it is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B3 and B8, along with zinc, iron, sulphur and amino acids.
How should I eat bee pollen?
Now we have outlined some of the health benefits which bee pollen can offer, how should you go about incorporating it into your daily diet? Luckily, there are some scrumptious recipes which include bee pollen, and these are all things which are easy to make! Here are some of our favourites:
– Bee pollen ice cream
If the weather is starting to heat up where you are, bee pollen ice cream can be the perfect treat. You can combine the bee pollen with a variety of ice cream flavours; from chocolate to honey. Use coconut milk or Greek yoghurt as your base, or combine the two. It helps to have an ice cream maker for this purpose, which you could buy online or from a homeware store. Where does the bee pollen come in? It is sprinkled on the ice cream – along with the sauce of your choice – for a fabulous finishing touch. Of course, you don’t have to make your own ice cream, as bee pollen is also an ideal addition to store-bought varieties.
– Chia breakfast bowl
Why not combine bee pollen with another superfood to glorious effect? You may be familiar with a breakfast bowl using the nutrition-packed chia seed. You can incorporate berries, fruit juices, coconut or almond milk, and fresh fruit into these glorious morning bowls – and if you hadn’t thought of it, bee pollen fits the bill, too!
– ‘Avo’ toast
If you are a healthy eater, you might be no stranger to the avocado – sliced or smashed – on toast. You could couple avocado with bacon or poached eggs, but there are also more health-conscious toppings around, such as garlic; and this is a variety which goes perfectly with bee pollen. Simply give your bread a good rub with a garlic clove before toasting it to perfection and topping with seasoned avocado. Complete the dish by scattering your bee pollen balls on top. Serve with a lemon – you can find that the acidity of the lemon and kick of the garlic is perfectly complemented by the nutty and slightly sweet bee pollen.
The texture and taste of bee pollen mean that it is crying out to be incorporated in a breakfast classic – granola! Cooked in the oven at a heat of around 170 degrees C for 25 minutes, granola just requires you to mix all sort of goodies in a bowl. Team your bee pollen up with granola staples such as oats, almonds, flax seeds, honey, cinnamon and coconut sugar. Once your granola is made, you can combine it with yoghurt or milk whenever you fancy a sweet, healthy and nutritious start to the day.
When you want the maximum health benefits with the minimum of fuss, sometimes smoothies can offer the perfect solution. Simply throw the ingredients you want to include into a blender and ‘blitz’ for a few seconds. What could be simpler? Bee pollen can work well with oranges or mangoes, and you might also like to combine it with honey, bananas, or nuts such as almonds. Along with other super healthy smoothie ingredients such as the anti-inflammatory turmeric, bee pollen couldn’t be easier to incorporate into your blends of goodness.
– Egg nog
Egg nog is a drink which is cherished in some parts of the world – such as the Caribbean – where there is a large emphasis on healthy foods in everyday diets. This moreish drink is made using beaten eggs, honey, milk, vanilla, and nutmeg, and your new addition could be ground bee pollen. Just throw it in and mix with the other ingredients. Egg nog can make for a fantastic nutritious and refreshing drink which is kept in the fridge.
Bee pollen tips
If you are purchasing and using bee pollen for the first time, you might want to bear in mind these tips:
– Ensure your bee pollen is pesticide-free
Unfortunately, a large share of the bee pollen which you can find on the market includes traces of pesticides. You will want to be sure that the bee pollen you are purchasing comes from a source which is free from the use of pesticides. Use trusted bee pollen retailers such as Papy’s for your peace of mind, offering you 100 per cent organic, raw bee pollen which has been produced in an area which is free from pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals.
– Keep bee pollen in the fridge
As bee pollen is a natural, organic product, it needs to be kept in the fridge. Not only will this help to extend the life of the bee pollen, but it can ensure that its potency is retained. Bee pollen which is left outside the fridge at room temperature can rot and begin to ferment. You should also ensure that your bee pollen has been freeze dried, rather than heat dried, as heat treatment can have a negative impact on the product’s nutritional content. The same applies if you are purchasing bee pollen granules, rather than unprocessed bee pollen.
– Start small
Before taking bee pollen for the first time, bear in mind that some people do have sensitivities to eating it. For this reason, it can be wise to start by ingesting a small amount, and gradually up your intake. Like any new substance, it is a good idea, to begin with a small amount, just in case you have some kind of allergy to it. Note: these kind of tolerances are rare.
– Watching out for signs of sensitivity
Following on from the tip above, it can help to know what could be a sign of an intolerance or allergy before you take bee pollen for the first time. Symptoms which could suggest that you have an intolerance include; an itchy throat, a runny nose, and sweating. Consult with a doctor if you encounter any of these side effects. In many cases, allergy symptoms can be overcome once you build up a tolerance for bee pollen.
– Do you have digestive issues?
If you do have digestive problems – from bloating and gas to colitis and irritable bowel syndrome – that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t enjoy all the health benefits of bee pollen. One way in which you can make bee pollen easier to digest is by soaking it before use. You can do this for about 12 hours before consuming it. It should be noted that for most people, it will not typically be a problem to digest the outer shell of bee pollen balls.
– When should I take bee pollen?
So when is the best time for you to take bee pollen? Conveniently, there is no ‘magic time’ for taking bee pollen – it can be ingested day or night, and there are no known interferences with any prescription drugs or supplements. It really comes down to a matter of choice – some people can experience an energy boost after taking bee pollen, meaning it could be well suited to taking earlier in the day. Others might find it fits better with their evening routine.
– How much bee pollen should I take?
In general, this is another consideration which comes back to personal choice. Some people enjoy heaping several teaspoons into their meals on a daily basis – this is a perfectly acceptable dosage, as for most people bee pollen is entirely safe. You can still enjoy the health benefits which bee pollen provides with small doses such as a teaspoon a day – remember that bee pollen is densely packed with nutrients! If you currently enjoy a healthy diet which is full of nutrients, there is no reason to eat a lot of bee pollen in order to realise its benefits. As mentioned above, it can be wise to start off with small amounts if you are new to bee pollen, in order to ensure that you don’t have an allergy or intolerance.
The history of bee pollen
Did you know that people have been eating bee pollen for at least 5,000 years? From the Egyptians to the Aztecs, Chinese, American Indians and Greeks – bee pollen has long been recognised for its energy providing power and stamina boosting potential. Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher, is one famous fan of bee pollen – he is said to have valued the ability of bee pollen to assist healing.
We must also note the reverence which is connected with bees. In the Bible, in which bees are mentioned no less than 38 times, God promised Abraham the land which flows with milk and honey.
However, it is only in the 20th and 21st centuries that research has begun to uncover the extent of bee pollen. Published in Hindawi, a study entitled ‘Historical Aspects of Propolis Research in Modern Times’, explained: “At least 180 different compounds have been identified so far. Its antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, anaesthetic, and healing properties have been confirmed. Propolis has been effectively used in the treatment of dermatological, laryngological, and gynaecological problems, neurodegenerative diseases, in wound healing, and in treatment of burns and ulcers.”
We hope you found this content on bee pollen interesting and useful and enjoyed reading about its properties, health benefits, recipes, tips and history. As a versatile food supplement which provides a plethora of advantages, bee pollen is certainly hard to beat.
If you are on the lookout for the best pollen, from a source which is free from pesticides, large scale mechanics or artificial practices, you can rely on Papy’s. Our quality fields are free from the pollutants which can be present near urban areas. We have over 50 years’ experience and are committed to small scale production and purity in all our products.
And if you’re looking for quality honey products, Papy’s Company is the right place to be at Check out our Honey Collection and Amazing Bee Pollen that we have in store!