Lately you may have seen little golden nuggets showing up in my posts on instagram or in other (much more influential) poster’s pictures. There has been a lot of hype around the benefits of bee pollen and for good reason. In this post I want to fill you in on these nutritional nuggets’ benefits and I also want to share what I learned when I reached out to my friends @BeeKeepersNaturals regarding how to find quality pollen for purchase. They also provided insight on proper storage to maintain those vitamins and minerals after purchase.
So what is pollen? We all know that it is developed from the pollen of plants and nectar of the bees but, what most probably don’t know, is that it used the main source of nutrition for all the developmental stages in the hive(1). That means each one of those little golden nuggets, as I have described them, is “rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids(2).” In other words they are, as Dr Axe went on to state, “antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agents that strengthens the capillaries, reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels naturally.” Thats a lot of punch!
Now two benefits of those I want to talk about a bit more as they are pretty significant. It has been proven the intake of carotenoids could lower the risk of different types of cancer or cardiovascular disease(1). The other one I specifically thought it would be worth mentioning (while all are super beneficial) are the flavonoid contents. Flavonoids have been shown to be or have anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-diarrheal properties when consumed or given “in-vitro” (1). Both of these can be extracted directly from bee pollen for treatment or you can get those benefits from direct consumption…i.e. put them on your oats already!
So now that you know why we are all running to sprinkle our yogurts with bee pollen and scoop them in our smoothies, you’re probably wondering what should you look for when you are on the hunt to buy them at the stores or online? I reached out to a source that I was able to meet at Camp Yoga last year, Beekeeper’s Naturals (beekeepersnaturals.com), for a bit of advice as they know and understand quality and really strive to help and teach their customers how to optimize the use of bee products for health benefits. Here are their recommendations:
- While raw bee pollen has more nutrients and enzymes but it needs to be kept cold. If you are buying bee pollen off a shelf that has been sitting a few weeks and it says raw, it has probably gone rancid – do not buy. Most of the bee pollen on the shelves has been heated, thus destroying many of the beneficial nutrients. Raw pollen can last a few days to a maybe a week or two out of a fridge but anything longer it has gone bad.
- Ask the beekeepers you buy the pollen from about their pesticide testing. Pollen comes from plants, which unfortunately are more often than not exposed to pesticides, counteracting the described above benefits. Terms like “organic”, “local” and “fair trade” do not mean the bee pollen has not been exposed to pesticides either. Make sure the source tests and tries to avoid pollen that has been exposed to pesticides. Beekeeper’s Naturals is produced in Canada and ensures their apiaries have clean surrounding groups as well as performs the testing – you see why they are one of my favs?
- Make sure the bees are having a balanced diet (ie are not surviving on monocrops). Just as we need a balanced diet full of many different foods, so do bees to create the most nutritious pollen for their hive. What this means is that they should not be creating pollen in areas where there is only one type of crop but maybe a few crops or supplements of wildflowers to the main crop on the farm.
So where do I recommend buying pollen? I obviously am a fan of Beekeeper’s Naturals but I know that many of you also have access to farmers markets in your areas (Union Square NYers). I definitely suggest talking to them and finding out more about their processes and bees. Local health food stores may be okay but be wary of the shelf life, as mentioned above. One common misconception, however, is that you do not need to buy honey/pollen from the area you live in to provide the necessary benefits.
Each way we can add healthful items to our daily routine, the more power we have to live a longer, healthier life. This is a really amazing super food that is easily added to your daily meals and recipes – definitely worth all the bzzz!
Ps. Big thank you to BKN for letting me reach out for information. As a side note, I really love their Bee Powered product!
- Ana M. Ares, Silvia Valverde, José L. Bernal, María J. Nozal, José Bernal,
Extraction and determination of bioactive compounds from bee pollen,
Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, Volume 147,
2018,Pages 110-124,ISSN 0731-7085, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpba.2017.08.009.
Keywords: Bee pollen; Bioactive compounds; Determination methods; Food supplements; Extraction techniques.
- Dr. Axe. “Top 8 Bee Pollen Benefits.” website. https://draxe.com/bee-pollen/ Accessed Jan 22, 2018.