superfoods for the win
A foray into the potential for honey sales in the health food sector has led to the creation of a range of Superfood Honey products.
There is a lot of chatter in the media about ‘superfoods’ right now. When we started to look at the health food category as a route-to-market for the honey from our small-scale African beekeepers, the Musanya marketing team kept coming across the info on superfoods.
It seems that with every season there is another ‘superfood’ discovery hitting the shelves. Someone was touting dragon fruit as the next ‘big thing’ then we heard about the health benefits of pomegranates. Very often the superfood description is simply a marketing term with some vague health benefit attached. Often it’s hard to tell if there are any benefits at all.
All the focus on superfoods gave Musanya’s founder an idea though: Honey is one of the most ancient ingredients used by people in medical or palliative preparations. It’s antibacterial and antifungal properties have been known (or guessed at) by healers in human societies for millenia.
Musanya’s honey is harvested in areas so remote and pristine, that pollutants and contaminants such as pesticides are unknown. It is exceptionally pure honey. He wondered if superfoods could be combined with this extraordinary honey to make unique and effective health products.
Could Musanya make and market superfood honey products and open up a new category in the health food arena, while improving g demand for honey from Musanya’s small-scale rural producers? We needed first to find the right superfoods.
According to the American Heart Association, there is no definitive list of what ‘is’ or ‘is not’ a superfood. The list includes mostly plant-based foods like blueberries or Kale, and some fish (salmon) or dairy products. In planning a balanced diet, it is best to always eat whole foods and avoid industrially processed foods items completely.
What is certain through is that superfoods contain a variety of nutrients, such as antioxidants, which are thought to ward off cancer. They also tend to have healthy fats which can help prevent heart disease, and phytochemicals which can have numerous health benefits.
Some of the foods Musanya scattered on the workbench to start experimenting with included blueberries, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, oranges, fennel and rooibos. Research suggested that these superfood ingredients each offered a range of health benefits. They also offered potential flavour combinations that would pair beautifully with our African honey.
Blueberries, in fact any berries, are packed with Vitamin C, soluble fibre, and a phytochemical called flavonoids. The later are indicated in the reduction of the risk of certain cardio-vascular conditions, while Vitamin C and fibre are always beneficial in measured doses. Strawberries have the flavonoids but are also particularly rich in Vitamin C.
The anti-oxidants in berries which help fight heart disease are also present in common culinary ingredients such as ginger. Like honey, ginger, and it’s cousin turmeric have been used in traditional healing for centuries. As well as the anti-oxidant action of the compound gingerol, other enzymes in ginger are good for managing nausea and as and anodyne for chronic inflammatory conditions.
Turmeric is also a source of the potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, curcumin. There is some evidence that phytonutrients resent in both Ginger and Turmeric can improve brain function and stave off dementia. Research is ongoing and not yet conclusive, but centuries of use in pre-industrial medicine have borne out its efficacy as a natural remedy.
Another superfood that took our interest was citrus. In particular, we liked oranges for their balance flavour, high Vitamin C and fibre content.
A study published in ‘The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ in July, 2018 found that adults over 50 had a 60% lower chance of having macular degeneration – a wasting condition of the eyes – if they ate an orange every day.
Because of its indigenous African roots, we really wanted to do something with rooibos, the herb that is enjoyed globally as a caffeine free alternative to tea. It has high levels of the antioxidants aspalathin and quercetin, said to protect cells from damage by free radicals. This is a trait shared by the antioxidants in pure cocoa, as well as the fact that it can improve cognition, help prevent memory loss, and definitely has an effect in improving one’s mood or sense of well-being.
With all these ingredients and their health benefits to play with, Musanya’s food tech team got to work developing some healthy, honey-based products for the health-conscious shopping basket.
A range of Superfood Raw Honey variants have been developed to supplement the sweetener you currently use in your daily smoothie or breakfast bowl. The Ginger, Turmeric, Cinnamon or Cocoa honey can also be used in cooking or baking to bring anti-oxidant or anti-inflammatory boosts to a balanced diet.
Musanya’s range of Superfood Honey Teas is there to replace traditional caffeine-laced hot beverages so you can relay with a comforting drink that’s super-good for you. Turmeric + Ginger, Fennel + Orange and Rooibos + Cinnamon each make a soothing teatime treat with a tablespoon in a cup of boiled water. You have to decide on your personal favourite, we love them all.
We didn’t want to leave children out of the Superfood honey garden, so we came up with some honey fruit spreads that go with anything kids eat, from toast to crumpets and even as a topping on ice cream. The spreads come in Blueberry, Strawberry and Coconut and they are irresistible. We did the coconut, as this tropical nut is full of magnesium and therefore good for growing bones in developing bodies.
Our original Google search told us a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. We took it a step further by adding superfood ingredients to our incredible African forest honey. In so doing, we’ve created a selection of nutrient dense products that you can use to easily incorporate superfood goodness into your daily routine.
The simple fact is that a good, balanced diet with lots of leafy greens and nutrient-dense produce, mainly plant-based, will keep us pretty healthy. You are what you eat after all. However, in the modern diet, there are elements which are not necessarily in good supply.
Superfoods fuel your body so it can fight back against chronic disease and other nutrient deficiencies. Musanya uses honey of an extremely high quality, from small, African producers to encourage sustainable development in rural communities. It’s a winning combination for the health of your body and the health of the planet.