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Bee Pollen: Nature’s Perfect Food

March 14th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by James Pritchett on Unsplash

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Have you ever wondered about bee pollen? Other than the so-called “health freaks”, who else is consuming this stuff? Is it something you should consider taking and if so, why? Moreover, what the heck do you even do with it? 

These are all questions I once had too and my goal is to answer them for you in this post.

Years ago I purchased a little container of bee pollen from a local farmer’s market stand. I have to be honest, I only bought it because it made me feel cool…to say that I take bee pollen stroked my little dietitian ego. But of course, it’s only cool if you actually take the bee pollen.

There is sat, staring at me on my kitchen counter (for what felt like a month), daring me to step into my awesomeness and join the other tree-hugging, bee pollen-eating health freaks.

Eventually I sprinkled a little in my smoothie, and…nothing happened.

I felt NO different.

Another month went by and I tossed it in the trash.

YIKES! Those poor little bees. All of that work for nothing! Did you know it takes a honey bee a full month, working 8 hours each day, to gather one teaspoon of bee pollen?

 

What exactly is bee pollen?

Bee pollen is made from a combination of the saliva of worker honey bees, packed with field-gathered flower pollen (the male seed of flowers required for the fertilization of the plant) and nectar. It serves as the primary food source for the hive. And talk about power…one tiny little pellet of bee pollen contains over two million flower pollen grains!

 

Bee pollen can be purchased either in the granule/pellet or ground form. Whatever you do, make sure it is 100% raw and free from pesticides and chemicals. Both Beekeeper’s Naturals and Bareorganics are trusted and reputable options. 

 

Check out this video of honey bees collecting pollen. Notice how they store the pollen in baskets (called corbiculae) situated on the tibia of their hind legs.

And you thought your job was important!

I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t watch this video without being convinced that a magnificent force beyond my comprehension is responsible for all of this. Nature is a wondrous mystery, isn’t it?

 

Bee pollen nutrition

These miraculous little pellets are one of nature’s most nourishing foods, housing nearly all nutrients required by humans to thrive.

Bee pollen is:

  • Over 35% protein, half of which is in the form of free amino acids (meaning the body can use it directly).
  • Rich in B-vitamins and folic acid, which are essential for energy.
  • Full of important minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, selenium, and zinc.
  • An abundant source of live enzymes when consumed in the raw form.

 

5 Benefits of bee pollen. But first…

You may be thinking: Big deal Mel! You still haven’t told me anything compelling enough to turn me into a tree-hugging, bee pollen-eating health freak. Can’t I just take a multivitamin and eat a piece of meat and get the same nutrition?

Sure, but you’ll be missing out on many benefits specific to bee pollen. Before I get to that, I want to share something I learned that left me in awe. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola:

One of the most interesting facts about bee pollen is that it cannot be synthesized in a laboratory. When researchers take away a bee’s pollen-filled comb and feed her man-made pollen, the bee dies even though all the known nutrients are present in the lab-produced synthesized food. Many thousands of chemical analyses of bee pollen have been made with the very latest diagnostic equipment, but there are still some elements present in bee pollen that science cannot identify. The bees add some mysterious “extra” of their own.

Again, nature is miraculous indeed!

Here are five ways bee pollen can support your health:

  1. Relief from seasonal allergies when taken six weeks before the season begins and then throughout.
  2. Decreases inflammation and boosts your immune system. This is due to its antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  3. May decrease menopausal symptoms in breast cancer patients (1).
  4. Relief from pain caused by injury (2).
  5. Reduction of stress and elevation of mood! Bee pollen improves blood supply to nervous tissue, which can improve your stress response and overall mood.

 

Bee pollen: What the heck to do with it!

I think the easiest way to include bee pollen in your diet is to add one teaspoon to foods you’re already enjoying. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Sprinkle on top of a peanut or almond butter sandwich or fruit dipped in your favorite nut butter
  • Stir in yogurt, cottage cheese, or steel cut oats
  • Add to your favorite Peace of Health shake recipe
  • Mix in no-bake energy bite/nutrition bars (see this week’s recipe for Un-bee-lievable Protein Bars)
  • Sprinkle on top of salads

Remember, just like anything that’s good for you, too much of it isn’t!

 

You should not take bee pollen if you…

Bee pollen is safe for most people, but it can be harmful for those individuals who:

  • Suffer from pollen allergies
  • Are allergic to bees
  • Are pregnant (may stimulate the uterus and threaten pregnancy)

If you are as inspired as I am by Mother Nature’s gift of honey bees, you will love this podcast episode from Revolution Health Radio. Host and functional health practitioner Chris Kresser, interviews Carly Stein—an ex-Goldman Sachs financial analyst-turned beekeeper— on the amazing products created naturally from honey bees. 

Other resources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377380/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30839214

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Un-bee-lievable Protein Bars

 

 

 

 

 

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