Should we believe the hype about manuka honey?
The clean eating trend that has seen a surge in the past few years has led to people using antioxidant foods found in nature like honey, not just to eat, but to cure a whole host of problems, from bad digestion to skincare issues.
One of the main products believed to be top dog in the world of superfoods is manuka money. We all know that honey is good for us, being rich in free radical-fighting antioxidants and phenols, in addition to possessing antimicrobial properties. But what is it about manuka honey that makes it special and why is it believed to be better than other types of honey?
Let’s look a little closer.
What is manuka honey?
Manuka honey is named after the New Zealand scrub plant, the manuka tree, Leptospermumbut, where its nectar is derived from. It was introduced to New Zealand by European honey bees in the early 19th century. So, why is manuka honey better than standard honey? When bees pollinate from the manuka tree plant, their honey is more potent than standard honey bee honey due to the higher concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO) present.
To many people’s disbelief, manuka honey isn’t always a raw honey, it is simply a specialised honey.
Manuka honey has varying uses, it has been used as an ointment to tend to wounds and been hailed as a fighter against sinus issues, acne and tooth decay.
What is raw honey?
Raw honey is unprocessed honey that beekeepers take straight from the honeycomb and then cleaned naturally by removing any beeswax, pollen or debris.
Unlike with regular honey, which is the standard type of honey most commonly found in supermarkets, raw honey does not go through a pasteurisation process whereby the honey is heated to high temperatures. This means that the integrity of the honey is left intact and the health benefits are not compromised.
Apart from checking the label, you can often recognise raw honey by its cloudier, milkier appearance compared to regular honey.
Not just simple sugar, raw honey boosts the immune system and is not heat-processed like manuka honey, making it more effective at treating common ailments such as a sore throat.
Research has shown that raw honey can kill unwanted bacteria and funguses. Raw honey also naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic, making it great for helping to heal wounds.
Manuka honey vs raw honey
Is manuka honey really better than raw honey? Manuka honey often comes with a much higher price tag than raw honey. But the belief that Manuka honey = better, appears to be a mere marketing ploy.
Research from the University of Western Australia found that numerous other types of honey, such as eucalyptus honey, had comparable or greater antibacterial properties compared to manuka honey. (Source: Hammer et al, Antibacterial activity and chemical characteristics of several Western Australian honeys compared to manuka honey and pasture honey, Arch Microbiol. 2017 Mar;199(2):347-355.)
As long as your honey is raw, unfiltered and unpasteurised, such as forest and wildflower honey, then you will reap all the benefits.
Any raw honey, as long as it is natural (so unfiltered) and unpasteurised, can yield the same results as manuka honey, without the costliness. These types, including forest and wildflower honey (one of the most widely used honeys in the EU), may even produce better results for common ailments.
Any honey not labelled raw has gone through additional filtering and pasteurisation processes that involve heating the product to destroy as many toxins as possible. In the process, however, some of the important nutrients are also lost.
When buying honey ensure that it has been produced and harvested using ethical, natural methods to prevent the quality of the honey being compromised. Another tip is to look for organic raw honey. For example, with organic raw honey, honey bees are not fed dangerous sugars or syrups and collection fields are natural and not used for commercial purposes, preventing the nectar from being adulterated.
In conclusion, scientists have said that whilst Manuka honey may be seen as slightly superior, it’s important not to get carried away as the evidence is still not conclusive.
The real deciding factor in what type of honey you should buy is whether it is raw, unpasteurised honey or regular pasterised honey. In addition to what you’re using it for and how much you’re willing to spend, cost-wise, as manuka honey is still disproportionately expensive compared to its counterparts.
Discover our range of delicious, raw forest and wildflower honey today and start boosting your health and happiness the natural way.