At one point, we all learned about bees — how they flit from flower to flower, gathering nectar, turning into honey and collecting pollen along the way. Honey is as widely accepted as an ingredient as sugar or flour, but bee pollen? It has only recently been touted as the latest superfood.
Here's what all the buzz about bee pollen is all about — if you'll pardon the pun.
What is bee pollen?
Bee pollen is flower pollen that has collected on the fine hairs on bees' legs. This pollen is then mixed with some nectar and bee enzymes to create the product sold as "bee pollen." These bee-gathered pollens are rich in proteins, amino acids, and vitamins, including all of the B-complex vitamins.
Does it have medical benefits?
Bee pollen has been used in holistic medicine for centuries. It has been used medicinally for a wide range of conditions, including immune deficiencies, allergies, prostate health and infertility.
Daily intake of bee pollen may help some people develop a resistance to pollen allergies. It’s also thought to increase physical stamina and endurance, improve athletic performance and soothe stomach problems. It’s also often used in topical products as a soother for psoriasis or eczema, and is said to clear the complexion. The amino acids and vitamins protect the skin and aid the regeneration of cells. The high level of antioxidants in bee pollen may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the lungs, helping them breathe easier and easing asthma symptoms.
Bee pollen has also historically been used to support the heart due to high levels of rutin, an antioxidant bioflavonoid that helps strengthen capillaries and blood vessels, assists with circulatory problems and corrects cholesterol levels. Its potent anti-clotting powers could also help prevent heart attack and stroke.
Is bee pollen safe to eat?
A word of caution about bee pollen: Some people may have an adverse reaction, so it’s important to test yourself before consuming very much bee pollen. Pregnant women, people prone to allergies or immune deficiency should also consult their physician before adding bee pollen to the diet. To test bee pollen, put just a few grains on the tongue and watch for any sign of an allergic reaction. like a runny nose, itchy eyes, shortness of breath, hives or other skin problems, and swelling.
If the initial test goes well, feel free to start eating a small amount of bee pollen, then slowly increase the amount to up to a tablespoon a day.
How can you incorporate bee pollen into your diet?
Bee pollen can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways — taken by spoon with fruit, sprinkled on cereals, added to smoothies or mixed into homemade chocolate.
Make sure to store it in the refrigerator to prevent moisture from entering the container. Enjoy adding these sweet little golden balls of nutrition into your diet!
Photo credit: Christian Millan