All types of naturally-made honey come with multiple antibacterial and antioxidant properties that help deal with health issues, so investing in beekeeping equipment might be a good idea. Manuka honey, however, originates from New Zealand and is the most potent product currently being used for medical purposes.
Used by people since forever, honey has been praised for its multiple health properties and for being a healthier alternative to sugar. However, there are so many types of honey that you can choose from, you might not be sure which is the right choice from every point of view.
Before talking about honey, though, we need to mention the importance of keeping the bee colonies healthy, and right now this is not happening. Human activity is changing large areas that bees use to feed, forage, and hide, thus making it very difficult for these flying workers to survive.
Moreover, while we are focusing our attention on honey bees, there are many other species of pollinators that are going through the same problems, from bumblebees to birds that play a key role in this process. It’s also crucial to realize that, while honey bees produce the sweet treat we love, all the pollinating species contribute heavily to the entire food system.
If you want to know what you can do to help preserve this entire process, then you can start out by researching the insects that live in your area and their needs. Many people simply buy a new beehive and place it on their lands thinking that they are doing the right thing, but the truth is that introducing a new colony in an area might pose some serious survival issues for local bees.
With this in mind, let’s take a quick glance at how honey is being made, in order to understand how bees work.
Bees fly from one flower to another, collecting pollen and nectar as they do this, and storing it in a part of their stomach specially designed for this purpose. Once they are full, they go back to the hive and they pass the goodies they’ve collected to workers by simply regurgitating it into their proboscises.
We know that this might sound gross, but bear with us. Nature has a way of designing things to work just right, and if it helps in any way, bees are what we can call very clean insects (unlike flies that always hang out in gross places). Once the workers get the mixture, they chew on it for a bit before regurgitating it as well into the honeycomb compartments.
As bees are doing this, they also flap their wings which cause enough evaporation for the watery substance to get that well-known honey stickiness. Of course, given that the nectar can come from essentially any type of flowering plant, there are endless types of honey that you can choose from in terms of taste and texture.
Rosemary honey, lavender honey, or dandelion one are just a few of the very popular alternatives you can usually find on the market. Furthermore, each type has slightly different nutritional benefits, but it’s important to note that all types of honey contain antibacterial enzymes and proteins that can help heal many health issues we might be dealing with.
From allergies, gut lining, and even acne, if you give honey a try you might be surprised by the results. The fact that this wonderful product is also high in antioxidants, which can lead to a lower infection and disease risk and fights free radicals, means you can say that honey can be considered a rather complete solution for some aspects.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should try to treat serious conditions with its help when your doctor advises medication, but you might be able to give your immune system an extra boost in the process.
This brings us to the most interesting type of honey that is currently on the market, namely the Manuka honey. This product is like regular honey but, as some might jokingly say, on steroids. While it has the same benefits that regular natural honey does, it is much more potent, which lead many people to use it for medical purposes.
Among the many issues that are being treated using Manuka honey, you can find allergies, digestive problems, and bacterial infections. You can also use it to fight off colds, sore throats, and other similar symptoms. You might be wondering “What makes this Manuka honey so special?”.
The answer lays in New Zealand where the manuka tree grows. The honey made using its nectar is believed to have much higher concentrations of beneficial components, and honey producers have even developed a UMF scale (Unique Manuka Factor) to rate its potency.
We know that labels can oftentimes be confusing, but the UMF rating might give you a hand. On the other hand, some producers chose to display the MGO concentration (methylglyoxal), which is the key antibacterial component of this great honey.
However, if you do keep in mind the UMF scale, then it’s good to know that for a certain type of honey to be considered potent enough for therapeutic uses, the rating has to be of at least 10 UMF, according to experts. Of course, just like with pretty much any other health-related product, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s credentials to make sure it’s from a high-quality source.
Given that this tree grows mainly in New Zealand, it’s only fair to assume that you will get the real deal if you go for products made in the same country.
What about the other types of honey?
According to some experts within the honey industry, except for the Manuka honey, the nutritional differences between the other types of honey are not that significant. They all offer rather similar benefits, but you still need to make sure that you choose a high-quality product to benefit from them. Other than that, it’s more a matter of taste.
Just like other products made of natural ingredients, such as olive oil or wine, honey can have different notes when it comes to its taste. Depending on the area and type of flowers it’s made of, it can have either bitter, sweet or floral nuances.
On the other hand, anyone who knows a bit about natural honey can immediately tell the difference between commercial products and local ones. Pure honey has various taste complexities that cannot be found in commercial alternatives, given that we’re talking about the difference between unprocessed and highly-processed products.
As you can only imagine, naturally-made unprocessed honey is also more nutrient-dense, especially since commercial alternatives are many times cut with other ingredients, such as sugar or synthetic sweeteners, to be more cost-effective. Even if the front label says it’s honey, make sure to read the back label as well and see that honey is, indeed, the only ingredient.
Commercial products also go through various heating processes to pasteurize the product, but this also means that some very useful enzymes are lost along the way. Another good piece of advice involves the packaging. You might not know this, but honey should be kept in a glass jar, not in a plastic container.
The product is very fragile and, therefore, less stable when placed in plastic. If we’re talking about locally-made natural honey being sold in a plastic container, then it should be consumed within one year. After this period, the color and taste might change. High-quality honey is a little foggy from the pollen, which is also one of the signs that tell you it’s naturally-made.
Sugars in honey
While we are definitely talking about a healthier alternative to sugar, you should remember that honey still counts as added sugar to your diet. Experts in nutrition say we should limit our consumption to 30g each day, depending on the physical activity level as well. Otherwise, you might be enjoying numerous health benefits, but you might also gain some weight.
Since this is a natural product, you can take your time and test it out a bit. See how you feel when you eat a certain amount each day and if the scale goes in any direction, and then adjust the intake according to your needs. People are also advised to take honey first when dealing with a cold, rather than go straight for antibiotics, which says a lot about this great product.