Honey can be considered one of the most precious gifts that humanity has received from nature. Over the centuries, honey has been used as a sweetener and for its medicinal properties. It is considered one of the safest, healthiest, and purest alternatives to sugar.
What is Raw Honey?
In its purest form, raw honey is unfiltered, unprocessed, and unpasteurized, leaving all of the vital nutrients and yeasts intact. Honey is made from the nectar of flowers collected by the honeybees and stored in the honeycomb. Raw honey can be still in the honeycomb or extracted and sold as liquid or creamed honey. People seeking a healthier lifestyle seem to be moving towards raw, organic, and unprocessed alternatives. Raw honey has become quite popular among those who are enthusiastic about their health.
What is Raw Honey Good For?
Raw honey has numerous health benefits and medicinal uses, and therefore throughout history, it has been used as a folk remedy. It is still used in some hospitals in wound treatment.
Most of the honey that we can find today in stores is pasteurized honey. High heat is used to kill unwanted yeast, improve the color and the texture, remove any crystallization, and extend the shelf life. However, in the process, many of the beneficial nutrients are also destroyed.
Let us look at some of the benefits that raw honey can offer us.
Excellent source of antioxidants: Raw honey is known to contain an array of plant chemicals that can act as antioxidants. Certain types of raw honey even have as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants also help in protecting our bodies from cell damage due to free radicals.
Free radicals contribute to the body’s aging process and contribute to the development of certain chronic diseases, which can include heart disease and cancer. According to research, antioxidant compounds in honey, which are known as polyphenols, might play a role in preventing heart disease.
Antibacterial and antifungal properties: According to research, raw honey can kill unwanted bacteria and fungus since it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic. It is known to be quite useful as an antifungal or antibacterial.
Wound Healing: Manuka honey is quite efficient in killing germs and in aiding tissue regeneration. According to studies, it can boost healing time as well as reduce infection. However, one should keep in mind that in hospital settings, the honey used for wound healing is medical grade, which means that it is inspected and sterile. Therefore, it is not good to treat cuts and infections with honey brought from a grocery store.
Digestion: Raw honey can also be used to treat digestive issues such as diarrhea, although there hasn’t been much research into it. It is also known to be a potent prebiotic, which means that it can nourish the good bacteria living in the intestines, which are crucial not just for digestion but also for a person’s overall health.
Rich in Phytonutrients: Phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that protect the plant from harm, such as insects or ultraviolet radiation. This compound is also known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Raw honey is known to be quite rich in this compound, which is why it can help boost immunity.
Relieving cold and cough symptoms: Raw honey can also prove quite helpful in relieving symptoms of a cold or a cough. The World Health Organization recommends honey as a natural remedy for cough. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recognizes honey to be a treatment for cough.
Weight Loss: Raw honey can also prove to be quite effective in aiding weight loss. It can be added to your green tea or black tea.
What is the difference between Raw Honey and Regular Honey?
While raw honey comes directly from the honeycomb, it is not pasteurized. However, the beekeeper will usually strain the honey to remove any debris, or pollen, beeswax, or any part of dead bees. Since raw honey has extra elements, it appears cloudy or opaque, although it is safe for consumption.
Regular honey, or pasteurized honey, is the one that is available at your grocery store or supermarket. The pasteurization helps in improving the honey’s appearance as well as increases its shelf-life. It also kills the yeast cells, which can help in enhancing the taste of the honey. However, pasteurization reduces the antioxidants as well as the nutrients in honey.
Raw honey also usually has more variation in color and texture compared to regular honey. The color of the raw honey may change depending on what flowers the bees pollinated. Although there has been no large study to confirm that raw honey is more nutritious than regular honey, some small studies suggest that raw honey can offer few extra health benefits.
Some of the specific components having health benefits, which are found in raw honey, include the following:
- Bee Pollen, which consists of anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants
- Bee Propolis, a substance resembling glue that helps in keeping the hive together
- Certain vitamins and minerals
- Amino acids
Some or most of these benefits are removed during pasteurization or such methods.
The main disadvantage of raw honey is that you are not as likely to find them in your supermarket. Because they can crystallize quickly, jars of raw honey can be harder to use, or customers may feel that sugar has been added to the honey by a nefarious business. However, you might find it sold on the internet or in independent food shops and farmer markets.
Because it can be hard to tell when you are getting the best raw honey, we have done a little research for you.
Here are our recommendations based on actually purchasing and testing the honey. If you would like to submit your honey for consideration, please contact us.
One final word of warning:
All honey may also contain certain harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum, which can be quite dangerous for babies. Therefore, you should never give honey to an infant who is less than one year old.