Functional Food Friday: Bee Pollen

If you could simply sprinkle your breakfast bowls with an ancient superfood that reduces inflammation, improves your immune system, and soothes seasonal allergies… would you do it?

What if I told you that same magical fairy dust was available from most grocery stores, is affordable in price, and has a shelf-life of up to 2 years?

Turns out, there is such a thing! And we’re going to dive into all of the amazing details in today’s post.

what is bee pollen

Bee pollen (the answer to the above mentions) is actually quite an incredible product. While bees are out pollinating flowers, they gather bits of plant pollen on their bodies. When they get back to the hive, the pollen is shaken off of their limbs and combined with a bit of saliva and honey to form little pellets, and then stored in the hive to fuel their nutrient and protein needs.

Depending on the plant derived from, pollen has a particular set of nutrients and healing properties. There is no single plant that provides all of the nutrients required by bees, therefore variety is key! (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)

However, this special pollen is also what feeds baby bees, worker bees, and the rest of the entire hive. So it’s important to source your bee pollen from a company that doesn’t over-harvest. This is one of my favorites.

Health Benefits of Bee Pollen | Purposeful Plate

health benefits of bee pollen

While these haven’t been confirmed by modern research, the following health benefits have been reported for centuries by people across many cultures.

  • “complete” protein, containing all 22 of the essential and non-essential amino acids

  • referred to as a “brain booster,” improving alertness, focus, and mental energy

  • rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, which support the nervous system, reduce stress & anxiety

  • potent source of antioxidants, which reduces inflammation, neutralizes oxidation, & boosts the immune system

  • reduces histamine levels in the body, which can be soothing to allergy sufferers, including hay fever

  • has been reported to alleviate nausea and sleep disorders by bringing the body into nutritional balance

While I wish there was a greater emphasis in this country on natural medicine and nutrition research, the unfortunate truth is that our medical system is owned by pharmaceutical companies, and the majority of funding goes towards testing new drugs, not superfoods. Therefore our prized, centuries-old healing ingredients are neglected, unless they can be powdered, encapsulated, and sold to the masses (translation —> if there’s a pretty penny to be made).

Bee pollen is an expensive product to maintain and produce, both in terms of money and time, and therefore it is not an attractive investment to the healthcare agencies who fund research. Knowing how the system works, and trusting in the social proof of centuries of use and healing, you have my permission to take the “there’s no evidence” argument with a grain of salt (or pellet of pollen, if you will) on this one.

What is Bee Pollen | Purposeful Plate

how to use bee pollen

One of my favorite ways to use bee pollen is by sprinkling it onto my breakfast. It makes for a really lovely addition to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, green juice, and acai bowls, adding just a touch of natural sweetness. You could also sprinkle it over fresh fruit, toast, chia pudding, parfaits, as a decorative topping on cakes or cupcakes, blended into your daily tea latte, or simply throw a small handful into your mouth daily alongside your multivitamin routine.

A little goes a long way in terms of flavor and nutrition, and it’s especially important to use only what we need of bee pollen in order to prevent over-consumption. This approach also reduces the pressure on pollen collectors, allowing them to harvest their hives sustainably, or at a rate which does not exceed what the bees can survive on. Over-harvesting could threaten their survival, and bees are one of the most important components to the environment and food system, so their survival is crucial to ours!

If you have any questions about bee pollen, or have other thoughts, ideas, concerns, or recipe ideas, please submit a comment below!

From my plate to yours,
LM