SHELDON—While honey contains mostly sugar, the sweet substance produced by bees still provides plenty of health benefits.

Iowa state apiarist Andy Joseph conducted a webinar on Thursday, March 9, for Live Healthy to talk about how honey is produced and the nutrition benefits of the sugary liquid. Joseph also is a beekeeper and honey producer for Meadow BlazingStar Honey in Des Moines.

It was the last webinar participants in Live Healthy Northwest Iowa could view during the annual weight-loss and activity minutes competition since Monday marked the final week of the 10-week program.

Even though honey contains mostly sugar, it has a plentiful mix of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc and antioxidants.

“If you are trying to avoid using sugar in your diet, honey is great for that,” Joseph said. “It’s a source of micronutrients and antioxidants.”

Nectar plus glucose oxidase provides hydrogen peroxide, which is one way bees fight off bacterial and viral attacks.

“It can do that for us to a degree as well,” Joseph said.

Honey can promote a healthy immune system. Studies on eucalyptus, citrus and labiatae honey show it can act as a cough suppressant for people with upper respiratory infections and coughs.

Other studies have suggested honey might offer antidepressant and anti-anxiety benefits.

Honey also can aid in digestive health, in healthy weight management and acts as a natural energy source, according to Joseph.

“One of the things that makes honey a good choice is that honey is perceived by many as being sweeter than sugar,” Joseph said. “So, you can limit the amount that you can use and get away with a pretty equal sweetness in terms of less of the actual sweetener input.”

As Live Healthy Northwest Iowa is in its final week, director Greta Giese, who also is the director of the Northwest Iowa Lifelong Learning and Recreation Center on the campus of Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon, offered a few tips to keep the “train rolling” for the rest of the year instead of limiting the weight-loss and exercise to only 10 weeks.

“Set goals, make it fun, make it a routine, put it on paper,” said Giese in the weekly Live Healthy Northwest Iowa newsletter. “Join forces with friends, reward yourself and be flexible. We encourage you to keep up with the healthy lifestyle you have been working so hard on the last 10 weeks.”

The final weigh-ins for Live Healthy Northwest Iowa are 6-8 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. at the LLRC.