What is Raw Honey, and what is it suitable for? Learn about the health benefits of Raw Honey and how to use it as a nutritious alternative sweetener.
- What is Raw Honey?
- Raw Honey Benefits
- Raw Honey Nutrition
- Health Benefits of Raw Honey
- Raw Honey Uses & Home Remedies
What is Raw Honey?
Raw honey is honey that has been obtained from beehives via straining, settling, or extraction. It has not been pasteurized, which is the process of sterilizing to destroy organisms in the honey that might be considered harmful when consumed. Also, raw honey is never heated over 118 degrees Fahrenheit during production or storage.
Honey’s consistency is changed when heated over 105 degrees. Raw honey tends to be creamier and smoother with little aftertaste when compared to other types of honey.
Raw Honey v. Unfiltered v. Commercial
There are three distinct varieties of honey. Here is a side-by-side chart highlighting their differences:
|Raw Honey||Unfiltered Honey||Commercial Honey|
|Crystallized and crunchy||Crystallizes quickly||Crystallizes slowly|
|May contain wax, pollen, propolis, etc.||Strained to remove larger wax and pollen particles||Contains little or no pollen|
|Not heated||Not heated||Heated|
|Not pasteurized||Not pasteurized||Pasteurized|
|Contains all vitamins and nutrients intact||Contains most vitamins and nutrients||Contains few vitamins and nutrients|
|No sugars added||No sugars added||May contain fructose and/or high fructose corn syrup|
Honey is popular around the world. It is estimated that 65% of the world’s population consumes honey: 50% purchases honey directly, while 15% consume honey via various products. Desserts and snacks like honey-roasted peanuts are often made with honey. As a result of the demand, many makers of commercial honey add artificial ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup to dilute it.
For those wanting to ensure they are choosing healthier honey varieties, there are two fast and easy ways to check for quality.
Thumb test: place a small amount of honey on your thumb. If it spreads around like other liquids, this is a sign; it may not be pure.
Water test: Put a teaspoon of honey in a full glass of water. If it dissolves in the water, it is fake or commercial honey. Raw honey will settle at the bottom of the glass as lumps.
Is Raw Honey Safe to Eat?
Yes, but raw honey can be dangerous for infants and children under one year of age. Raw honey contains Clostridium botulinum, which can grow in a baby’s gut, causing botulism poisoning. Also, in its most natural state, raw honey might contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, a dangerous toxin that could be fatal if consumed.
Does Raw Honey Go Bad?
Honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil. However, it can become thick and cloudy over time (crystallize). If this occurs, honey is returned to its original state of consistency by removing the lid, placing it in a pan of water, and warming over low heat.
Does Raw Honey Need to Be Refrigerated?
Honey doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Simply keeping it a cool location, out of sunlight, and in a sealed container will suffice.
Where Can I Find Raw Honey?
In most cases, the honey purchased in stores isn’t the same as raw, unfiltered honey. The best places to find raw honey is locally or at a farmer’s market.
Is Raw Honey Good for You?
Raw honey is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, helps with digestive issues, has been used to heal wounds, and soothe sore throats.
Raw Honey Benefits
Studies indicate raw honey has many health benefits. For example, raw honey is rich in polyphenols, a chemical in the body that acts as an antioxidant. Studies indicate polyphenols protect cells from free radicals. In one particular study, phenols were found to have an anti-inflammatory effect against potential causes of cardiovascular disease.
In other studies, wound healing, effects on treating disease, and microbial inhibition have been well documented.
Raw Honey Nutrition
|Nutrient||Amount 1 Tbsp. (21 g)|
|Total fat||0 g|
|Sugars||17. 2 g|
|Vitamin C||.105 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||.005 mg|
Health Benefits of Raw Honey
Honey has been shown to play a role in health because of its antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and phytochemical properties. It has been used to treat eye diseases, constipation, ulcers, fatigue dizziness, and other ailments. Modern scientific literature states, “honey may be useful and has protective effects for the treatment of various disease conditions such as diabetes mellitus, respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and nervous system disorders. It is even useful in cancer treatment because many types of antioxidants are present in honey.” Researchers also go on to say honey may be used in the management of disease conditions.
Raw honey has been used to naturally treat wounds for centuries and has recently been rediscovered. Current studies have shown that honey when used, inflammation, swelling, and pain are quickly reduced. In addition, infection is rapidly cleared, healing occurs swiftly with minimal scarring, and odor is diminished.
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from free radicals in the body. Heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disorders and other ailments have been linked to damage caused by free radicals. A recent study found that honey improved many of the body’s antioxidant agents. Uric acid increased by 12%, glutathione by 7%, β-carotene by 3%, and blood vitamin C concentration by 47%.
Antibacterial and Anti-fungal Benefits
Products considered antibacterial will kill bacteria outright, preventing their cells from causing the body additional harm. Honey was first used as an antibiotic by the Ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago. The antibacterial and anti-fungal benefits of honey point to its enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. Current studies on honey found that natural, unheated honey had some “broad-spectrum antibacterial activity” when tested against oral bacteria, pathogenic bacteria, and food spoilage bacteria.
Increasing obesity rates in the United States have been linked to the consumption of foods with artificial sweeteners, high in fat, and other foods with little nutritional value. However, studies suggest honey consumption is not associated with the same effect on weight gain and may have beneficial effects on body weight. For example, when compared to a meal containing sucrose, ghrelin response (the hormone that stimulates appetite), was triggered quickly but was delayed when honey was consumed instead
The glycemic index lists the carbohydrate levels in foods and how they affect blood glucose levels. When honey was compared to sucrose, sucrose had higher blood sugar levels and caused greater glucose intolerance. Honey is beneficial to the liver as well: consuming honey at night replenishes liver glycogen levels, making it an ideal fuel for sleeping.
A healthy immune system is the first line of defense against illness and disease. Honey has been shown to stimulate the body’s immune system, helping it fight illness naturally. A study on allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies) found that high doses of honey helped relieve symptoms, which included watery eyes, sneezing, and other indications of allergies.
Raw Honey Uses & Home Remedies
Even without the backing of scientific studies, the use of honey as a home remedy has been passed down from generation to generation. In addition to being used by Ancient Egyptians, it is popular in Ayurvedic medicine, which focuses on a more holistic approach to health. Examples of its use include the following:
Promote Healing. Honey is added to wounds via a dressing or gauze to assist in the healing process. Honey kills bacteria while simultaneously drawing fluid away from the injury.
Improve Scalp Health. Honey works on the scalp for dandruff, dermatitis, hair conditioning, and other conditions. A mixture of heated raw honey and olive oil applied to the hair for 20-30 minutes is a popular method of using the sweetener.
Improve Sleep. A spoonful of honey before bed stimulates the production of tryptophan, which is then converted to serotonin. Serotonin creates melatonin, which helps improve sleep quality and rebuild tissues while sleeping. An adequate supply of melatonin helps a person get a good night’s sleep and feel refreshed in the morning.
Exercise Boost. One spoonful of honey before a workout helps prevent the body from using glycogen stored in the muscles for energy. Consuming honey during a workout can simultaneously keep muscles nourished and maintain high carbohydrate levels. Having another spoonful after a workout can refuel the cells and decrease muscle soreness.
Prebiotic Health. Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. A spoonful of honey assists in the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These bacteria are friendly gut bacteria that assist in keeping the colon and digestive system healthy.
Honey is a natural sweetener consumed for thousands of years. While commercial brands of honey are the most popular, they offer the least nutritional value, being stripped of their nutrients, containing artificial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Healthier options are raw and unfiltered honey. These varieties of honey retain their vitamins, nutrients and amino acids. Raw honey has many health benefits, and can be consumed either alone, or added to a variety of dishes. It is often used in lieu of sugar, making it an excellent option for diabetics as well as those who have a sweet tooth.