Once upon a time bee pollen was eaten only by baby bees to help them grow. N'aww.
Now, it's finding its way into health food shops and is being sprinkled into smoothies by humans across the world.
Bee pollen is believed to boost health, help muscle recovery after exercise, promote weight loss and prevent allergies. And what's more - it's delicious.
What Is Bee Pollen?
Bee pollen comes in tiny little golden-coloured granules that are sweet to taste. It is gathered while bees visit flowers collecting nectar, some is brushed off their legs and collected when they enter the hive.
“Bee pollen is one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods, with nearly all the nutrients required by humans. Not surprising that it has been used for energy and endurance since ancient times, with a single teaspoon full containing over 2.5 billion nutrient-packed flower pollen granules,” explains Susan Curtis, natural health director at Neal’s Yard Remedies.
"Bee Pollen is the richest source of vitamins in a single food," explains Curtis. "A nutrient powerhouse of eighteen vitamins including a B complex, all essential amino acids, fatty acids, RNA/DNA nucleic acids, enzymes, and is at least 25% protein. Stimulating the growth and repair of the body including the blood, nervous and immune system."
Because of its nutritional qualities, Curtis says it can lead to a whole host of benefits. These are detailed below.
Endurance: Strength, speed, endurance, recovery from exercise, muscle growth and definition are all improved when using bee pollen. Used by many top athletes to improve their performance.
Longevity: A Russian study in 1945 questioned one hundred and fifty Russian centenarians about their occupation and diet, key forf them all were honey and bee products.
Allergies: Histamine production many be reduced through bee pollen use, helping allergies and hayfever (take six weeks prior to and throughout the hay fever season).
Weight Control: The metabolism is stimulated by bee pollen, helping control cravings whilst lecithin flushes fat from the body and protects against LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Beauty: By stimulating the growth of new skin tissue, preventing dehydration and increasing bloody supply to the skin cells, bee pollen helps slow premature ageing.
Circulation: Rich in the flavonoid rutin, bee pollen strengthens the blood vessel walls improving the circulation and heart health.
Steve Jenkins, a spokesperson from the BDA is skeptical.
"Bee pollen is basically flower pollen stuck together with some bee secretions and a bit of honey," he says.
"So it will contain a number of interesting compounds like honey and royal jelly. These can be great antioxidants in the test tube and it is likely to contain a number of vitamins and minerals."
He adds: "But while there have been plenty of claimed health benefits, none have been proven."
He says if you want to get the above health benefits, it's best to eat fresh fruit and vegetables.
How To Use It
Bee pollen is super sweet so it works well to sweeten up smoothies or yoghurts. You can also mix them into granola or energy balls to add a bit of a guilt-free sweet treat.
Or you could just eat it by the spoonful - we certainly do!