What are the benefits of honey?
How to choose the best one for your needs.
There's honey and then there's honey.
There's the mass-produced squeezy stuff which is just liquid sugar, then there is raw, unpasteurised honey with real medicinal benefits.
Raw honey is not filtered, strained, or heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit and provides far more benefits than regular honey as it is full of active enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
The medicinal importance of honey has been documented in the world's oldest medical literature, since ancient times, it has been known to possess antimicrobial properties as well as wound-healing activity.
Let's chat honey.
In David Wolfe's book "Superfoods" he says this: "Made from the nectar that bees sip from flower blossoms, honey is universal medicine, sweetener, and nutrient resource. The tremendous amount of research conducted on honey indicates that raw, unprocessed honey is nature's richest source of live healing enzymes and that it increases reflexes, mental alertness, and even IQ!" Sounds like a good option to be adding to my kids' porridge then!
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR HONEY
When looking for honey choose one which is raw, preferably organic, and packaged in glass.
There are two easily visible markers of honey quality to look out for too:
1 WATER CONTENT
Water content is an important property of honey: it has less than 20% of water, which is why microorganisms cannot grow in it. This gives it a long shelf life. When it comes to the water content it is one of the main characteristics that signify the quality of honey. Premium quality kinds of honey have water content of 18% or less. Some purists even say that everything above 14% should not be considered premium quality. If you want to compare water content in two different jars of honey (both containers should be at the same temperature) you should turn them upside down. The one where bubbles rise to the top faster has greater water content.
Best quality honey contains pollen, which is why it does not look clear when you look at the jar. The filtration process leaves pollen inside while removing debris like bee parts, wax, and similar objects. When looking at a jar, the clearer the honey is the more processed it is. For the best quality look for the least processed ones, i.e. those that do not look clear.
What about Manuka honey?
Manuka honey from New Zealand is often labeled with active 10+, 15+, etc. ratings, which are indicators of topical antibiotic power. The higher the rated number, the more powerful the antibiotic effect of the honey when applied to the skin. This honey not only fights infection and aids tissue healing but also helps reduce inflammation and scarring. In addition, it is often used for treating digestive problems such as diarrhea, indigestion, stomach ulcers, and gastroenteritis.
How to choose your manuka honey
What it ends up coming down to is that if you’re planning on using manuka honey medicinally, you’re going to want to stick with either a UMF or MGO manuka honey.
These grading systems give a good indication of the medicinal strength of the manuka honey.
For non-medicinal applications the antibacterial strength of the manuka honey isn’t as important. In these cases you’ll be fine with a KFactor or Bio Active manuka honey.
When looking for a manuka honey work with one within your budget (they can get pretty pricey) that suits your intended needs.
- Use low grade manuka honey for non-medicinal uses such as for beauty or as a sweetner. Try make sure it’s raw manuka honey, though. This will ensure the highest levels of beneficial antioxidants and enzymes.
- Use a minimum of UMF 10+ for medicinal uses
- Use a high grade manuka honey if you're using it for digestive issues. Consider using a UMF 20+ manuka honey if you’re trying to treat a digestive issue. The higher grade means that the antibacterial activity in the honey holds up better even when it’s diluted in your stomache.
Isn't honey just sugar?
Sugar is sucrose, a combination of fructose and glucose (two bonded molecules). Our body needs to use its’ own enzymes to dissolve and use it. Sugar does not contain anything else, it is just empty calories.
The main components of honey are also fructose and glucose, but they are not combined into sucrose. Honey bees add an enzyme that keeps them apart, so our bodies can absorb them directly. Fructose does not transfer to energy as efficiently as glucose, so it is stored for later. Besides these two main components, unlike sugar, honey contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Honey is also sweeter than sugar, so you will need less of it for the same level of sweetness.
Main purposes of using honey:
- Treating wounds
- Allergies and bacteria
- Cough medicine
A word of caution – Botulism
There is a certain aspect of honey that can be harmful. It is considered harmless to adults, but it can contain botulism bacteria (Clostridium botulinum) that may harm children under the age of one. Honey can cause botulism in infants which causes varying degrees of paralysis. Adults and children over one-year-old have mature enough digestive systems and are safe from getting botulism.
So there we have it. Raw honey can be used as a delicious sweetner with benefits, medicinally to help boost immunity or help soothe a cough or topically for healing wounds. But as with all things, balance is required! Too much of it could effect your blood sugar levels, disrupting your hormones and your mood.