The buzzzz on Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is the collected bounty of hard working Bees. Pollen itself is the male germinating seed of any plant, flower or shrub. Honey-bees spend all day buzzing from flower to flower collecting pollen and redistributing it for plant fertilization.
While all this redistribution is happening the bees are also forming pollen pods on the back of each hind leg. The pollen pod is dislodged as the bees squeeze into their hives. This collected pollen is traditionally used to feed young bees. It is very important to be mindful when taking Bee pollen. It takes one bee, working 8 hours a day for one month to gather a 6 grams dose of pollen, holly cow! And we think that we humans are overworked and underpaid!
Bee pollen is a nutritionally complete food.
By nutritionally complete, I mean it contains every known vitamin, all the minerals, proteins, fatty acids and carbohydrates we need to sustain life.
Bee pollen has at least 96 active ingredients.
These include 22 amino acids, 27 mineral salts and 16 Vitamins (including our much sought after friend B-12). Bee pollen is higher in protein by weight than meat fish or eggs and about half of its protein is in the form of free amino acids ready to be used directly by the body. One pound of pollen is comparable nutritionally to 15 pounds of fruit and veg. Powerful stuff! Oh and I almost forgot to include its trace elements, fatty acids, hormones and enzymes. Bee pollen also has a few things in it that cannot be identified and it is thought that perhaps these well kept secrets are the key to Bee pollen's remarkable properties.
The benefits of bee pollen on human health.
Besides its obvious nutritional value Bee pollen has also been attributed with the ability to, and I'll paraphrase, "improve endurance and vitality, extend longevity, aid recovery from chronic illness, add weight during convalescence, reduce ravings and addictions, regulate the intestines, build new blood, prevent communicable diseases such as common cold and flu (it has antibiotic properties), and helps overcome retardation and other developmental problems in children".
(Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods, pg. 111).
Bee pollen is also used to treat allergies and hay fever, prostate problems, high cholesterol and nervous disorders such as depression and neurosis.
Bees and the environment.
All raw un-pasteurised honeys, bee pollen and royal jelly are "organic". Studies have found that these bee-products are known to contain only slight residues from industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust and agricultural chemicals. It seems that bees are so sensitive to our environmental pollutants that if they do come into contact with major contaminants they will die. Effectively the hive maintains a pollution barrier as only healthy, non-toxic bees will enter to drop off the daily collection, which is in turn, passed on to us.
What to look for and how much to take.
As it stands bee pollen cannot be reproduced in laboratories so you are guaranteed a GE free product (not because they haven't tried....it's those unidentified "magic" properties that keep Bee pollen a whole and natural food. Way to go bees!) The only thing to be wary of are "fillers" that may have been added to the pollen itself. The best type of bee pollen to buy is one, which says something like, Ingredients: Bee pollen.
As far as dosage is concerned it is best to start small. Although I found very little information on allergic reactions to report, some people are very allergic, so it is best to start out by eating a single pellet (that is still 2,000,000 flower pollen grains!).
From there it is finding out what suits each individual but often a teaspoon a day is sufficient when treating allergies or for general nutrition and energy.
A note on "potentiated" bee pollen.
Potentiated, in layman's terms, means to smash open and make nutrients more available to the human body. The theory was / is that bee pollen left as a whole food had a low bio-digestibility (aprox. 3-30% absorption) compared to a much higher rate after being broken open. The idea that bee pollen was difficult to digest came from a study (Roulston and Lane) testing the bioavailability of hazelnut and poppy pollen in rodents, It turned out to be very hard for those rodents systems to break through the hard exterior and get to the goodness. It seems, however, that bees tend to avoid hazelnut and poppy pollens themselves finding them too hard to digest and utilise. There are many published scientific papers on the bio-availability of bee pollen in its natural and potentiated state. In the end it comes down to personal choice and the way you feel taking whatever product natural or potentiated.
One last thing to say about bee pollen; it's yummy. Instead of downing pills or bitter tonics bee pollen is one of those sweet tasting pleasures that packs a nutritional punch, so enjoy!
Well that's the buzz on bee pollen, hope it helps in your quest for optimal health, just remember: 'more sting for your ping'.
Some recipes to keep you warm:
Chilli Tomato and Pumpkin Soup
1 Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
400g can of peeled tomatoes in juice, pureed
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups peeled, diced pumpkin
1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the garlic, chili and cumin for a few seconds.
Add all the other ingredients, except the fresh coriander and seasonings.
Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
Season to taste and mix through the coriander.
Potato Flour Bread
(from 'Great healthy food, Gluten Free', Michael Cox)
3 eggs, medium sized, separated
250ml buttermilk, plain yoghurt, soy/rice milk with a
squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
250g potato flour
100g fine corn/maize meal
3 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease an 11 X 21 cm non stick loaf tin with a little oil and line it with baking parchment.
Whisk the egg yolks, buttermilk and oil in a large bowl. Sift in the potato flour, corn/maize meal,sugar and salt and mix well.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not too dry. Mix a third of this into the batter to loosen it a little, then fold in the rest. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. Use the skewer test to ensure the bread is cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin, then run a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the loaf. Turn out and slice.
Spicey Chick Peas and Quinoa
1 1/2 cups dried chick peas
1/2 cup quinoa
2 large onions
300g kumara (red)
3 madium parsnips
1/4 cup olive oil
2 gloves garlic, crushed (optional)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes (or chilli powder)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
425g can of tomatoes
1 1/2 cup vegetable bouillon or water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Place chick peas in a bowl, cover well with cold water, cover and stand overnight. Add chick peas to large pan of boiling water, boil, uncovered for about 30 minutes or until tender, then drain. Cut onions into 8 wedges, cut kumara and parsnips into large chunks. Heat the oil in a pan, add onions, garlic, ginger, seeds and spices.
Cook until the onions are tender. Add the kumara, parsnips and un-drained crushed tomatoes, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chick peas, quinoa, bouillon and tomato paste cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
We would like to welcome "Jimmy good baby" into the world! Congratulations to Jo and Darryl and the arrival of their son James in early May. We really miss Jo around Piko but are glad that she is enjoying her new role as full time mamma and can't wait to get her back again!
Also we would
like to welcome Sabine and Claire to the co-op.