Bee pollen is a truly magical food. It’s a wonderful substitute for sugar, but in addition to its sinfully yummy taste, it has offers a plethora of health-boosting benefits.
Usually found in the refrigerated supplement section of the health food store, bee pollen pellets are rich in vitamins (including B-complex) and folic acid. They have more protein than any animal source, and more free amino acids than beef, eggs, or cheese by volume. (These ‘free’ amino acids are more immediately assimilated and used by the body). Pollen also contains a powerful phytonutrient called rutin, which has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties, in addition to blocking the action of proteins in the bloodstream that can lead to clotting. According to researchers at the Institute of Apiculture [the study of bees] in Russia, "… bee pollen is the richest source of vitamins found in nature... Even if bee pollen had none of its other vital ingredients, its content of rutin alone would justify taking at least a teaspoon daily, if for no other reason than strengthening the capillaries”.
Bee pollen is actually food for bees; it’s about 40% protein. Because one granule represents pollen grains from thousands of different plants, each with different beneficial properties, bee pollen is one of nature’s most complete foods. It contains nearly all of the nutrients required by the human body. The pollen itself comes from plants (it’s the male seed of flowers), and is collected into neat little granules by honeybees. As bees flit from flower to flower, they amass tiny particles of pollen on their legs and bodies, held together by tiny dabs of honey from their hive.
One teaspoon of bee pollen pellets contains over 2.5 billion grains of flower pollen and millions of living, beneficial enzymes. Is that nutritionally dense, or what?
Because it is a complete food, the human body readily accepts and assimilates the nutritional components of pollen. (As opposed to something like wheat germ or white rice, which have had essential elements removed [the bran and the endosperm, and the bran and the germ, respectively], bee pollen is whole. The body receives it and says, “Great! Everything here is accounted for, let’s get to work breaking this down.” It doesn’t have to wait for the remaining constituent parts to arrive, nor does it have to amplify our hunger so we’ll seek out the missing pieces.) More whole foods mean a more thriving, more satiated body.
*Bee pollen is used in many cultures for a number of purposes, including:
- improving endurance and vitality
- extending longevity
- aiding recovery from chronic illness
- adding weight during convalescence
- reducing cravings and addictions
- regulating the intestines
- building new blood
- preventing infectious diseases such as the cold and flu (remember: antibiotic properties)
- helping children with developmental difficulties.
Plus, if you can find local bee pollen, it can be a useful tool for beating seasonal allergies. Low-grade exposure to pollens help the body build up an immunity to them, reducing allergic reactions in spring and fall.
Look for an organic brand with a variety of colors of pellets: this means a wider variety of plants were ‘visited’ by the bees, meaning a wider variety of nutrients for you.
I love incorporating just a tiny smidge of bee pollen throughout the week for subtle sweetness - in light of giving up sugar - as it’s gentle on the system and has a low glycemic load. For me, pollen doesn’t exacerbate cravings and has proven to be a nice addition to some dishes without derailing my sugar-free progress.
Because of the array of heat-sensitive nutrients and enzymes, bee pollen should be refrigerated and never heated. Toss it into smoothies (like this one here), add to salad dressings, or try it in something like this hemp cacao breakfast bowl.
Start slowly: add a couple of granules to a food each day, watching for signs of allergic reaction, especially if you’ve been sensitive to bee stings or honey in the past.
For allergy prevention, about one teaspoon per day should do the trick. You should gradually increase your dose to one tablespoon. As a bonus, this is roughly five grams of protein: fantastic particularly for those following a plant-based lifestyle.
For sweetness, aim for one teaspoon per dish. You’ll be surprised at how delicious such a simple, whole, nutritious food can be!
How do you use bee pollen? Comment below - and share a picture with me on Twitter showing your creation!
*Articles referenced here -- Dr. Mercola