Yeah, newsflash. Not all honey is made the same. If the honey you are using is the cheapest bottle grabbed off the supermarket shelf, you may be denying yourself of all the glorious health benefits honey is purported to offer. Depending on the type of bees used in the pollination process as well as the plant that the bees feed on, different types of honey can provide varying health benefits and flavour profiles. Also, depending on how honey is processed, different brands of honey can give you different levels of health benefits – or in some cases, none at all.
What to avoid
Pasteurised, processed honey
Some companies pasteurise their honey so as to prevent crystallisation, making the honey a more appealing-looking product for both retailers and consumers. This process removes honey’s beneficial constituents such as vitamins and enzymes. The resulting honey is far from the health-promoting powerhouse of its raw unpasteurized counterpart. “Dead” honey, some call it, for it no longer brings you any of honey’s usual health benefits.
Beware, when honey is labelled “pure,” it just means that it has no additives, such as sugar, corn syrup, or flavourings. However, it still may have undergone pasteurisation, and the honey becomes no different from high fructose corn syrup!
Our advice? Avoid such types of honey – if you are going to be adding calories into your food, you might as well make sure that it brings you health benefits at the same time. So check the label of your honey well! Commercially produced honey labels indicate whether or not the product is pasteurized.
Inverted sugar solutions and glucose syrups or corn are often used for making fake honey, mixing with it, or replacing it entirely. Another method of honey falsification is the addition of water (honey containing more than 25% water, is considered to be falsified). These types obviously do not provide the consumer with honey’s usual health benefits.
HealthLoco tip: To check if your honey is artificial, use the Water Test — Fill a glass of water and add one tablespoon of “honey” into the water. Pure honey will lump and settle at the bottom of the glass. Adulterated and artificial honey will start dissolving in water.
What to consume
Raw honey is a pure, unfiltered and unpasteurized sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Unlike processed honey, raw honey does not get robbed of its incredible nutritional value and health powers. Expect raw honey to be opaque rather than that sparkling, clear, golden colour that is achieved through heating during the pasteurisation process.
Who should have it: It can help with everything from low energy to sleep problems to seasonal allergies. Switching to raw honey from processed sugar may even help with weight-loss efforts as it does not spike blood sugar as easily.
It’s a familiar name, and you may have seen celebrities heralding it as a magical cure-all. While Manuka honey is no magic bullet, it does have an amazing nutritional profile.
Regular raw honey is already known for its tremendous nutritional and immune-boosting abilities. The typical raw, unfiltered honey is a rich source of amino acids, B vitamins (B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, and essential nutrients. With Manuka honey, the nutritional content is up to 4 times that of normal flower honey!
And of course, like all good things – Manuka honey tends to be pricier as well.
Who should have it: Because of its rich antioxidants, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory characteristics, Manuka honey is good for those with sore throats or poor immunity levels.
HealthLoco Tip: Do not mix it into boiling water but wait until the drink is tepid. Otherwise, the boiling water will destroy some of the beneficial properties of the honey.
Not as well-known as Manuka is Beeotic, the world’s 1st clinically tested prebiotic honey. You may already be familiar with the term “probiotics”, which refers to live bacteria we find in yoghurt, dairy and supplements which can survive in the gut and thereby exert a health benefit. Prebiotics, however, refers to a dietary fibre that has the ability to help good bacteria in our gut grow, improving the good-to-bad bacteria ratio, and therefore improving our digestive system.
Who should have it: Prebiotic honey is particularly useful for those struggling with digestive problems such as irritable bowels.
Forget prebiotic pills. In today’s overly medicated culture, Beeotic is a 100% natural medicine we can get behind.
HealthLoco tip: Suffering from digestive problems? Other ways to increase your intake of prebiotics include any of the following in your diet: onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root and asparagus.
Even if you’re not suffering from digestive problems, gut health is something to be mindful of. Research has shown that gut health is linked to mood and behaviour, affecting depression, anxiety, and stress levels, and even the way you think.
Nectar of the gods
With a rich, addictive sweetness, honey truly lives up to its name as the nectar of the gods. Drizzling (“drizzling“) honey over a stack of pancakes, stirring it into chia seed pudding, or licking it straight off the spoon – yum. Keep in mind however that honey is still a form of sugar, regardless of being ‘natural’. Too much honey consumption will still expand your waistline, so moderation and small portion sizes (a 14mL tablespoon as per the manufacturer’s suggestion) is important.
Cover photo: Thefrick