WHAT IS RAW HONEY?
Raw honey is honey that is pure, unfiltered and unpasteurized. It means there is no processing or heating to decrease its natural vitamin and mineral content. Natural (raw) honey contains nutrients and enzymes that have a variety of health benefits and medical uses. Perhaps that’s why it has been used as a folk remedy throughout history.
RAW UNFILTERED HONEY BENEFITS
Raw, unfiltered honey can only be purchased directly from the bee farm. It looks cloudier than a commercial one and contains particles and flecks made of bee pollen, honeycomb bits, propolis. Raw, unfiltered honey usually granulate and crystallize to a thick consistency after a few months.
Natural (raw) honey purifying process:
First phase: Collected raw honey should pass through an inox steel strainer. The strainer retains dirt, bee parts, whole bees or insects, and other impurities from extracted honey.
Second phase: Collected honey should be kept for a while in well-closed containers or barrels in a relatively warm place. In this phase, honey cleans itself by making bubbles/foam. This honey foam should be removed.
The raw honey purifying process goal is to remove different impurities from honey, as well as to avoid fast honey crystallization. However… It’s not the same as honey filtering!
Commercial (regular) honey is filtered and often pasteurized, to look cleaner, smoother and more appealing on the shelf. Filtering and pasteurization affect the taste of honey and its health benefits. Commercial filters remove dirt, bee parts, wax, and other impurities from extracted honey. Unfortunately, many filtering techniques remove the pollen, too! This fine powdery substance (pollen) is considered as Superfoods, thanks to its amazing health benefits.
The process of pasteurization: when honey is heated (at 70 degrees Celsius or more, followed by rapid cooling), its delicate aromas, yeast, and enzymes are partially destroyed.
Most golden honey you see at your local grocery is far from the health-promoting powerhouse of its raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized counterpart. Processed honey is not honey at all and if you desire any kind of health benefits, you must stick to the pure/raw one.
RAW UNFILTERED HONEY BENEFITS:
– NUTRIENT-RICH (rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, pollen etc.) – The nutrient content of raw honey varies, but a 1-ounce serving contains very small amounts of folate, and vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6 and C. It also contains minerals (in small amounts, too) including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium & zinc, as well as amino acids, enzymes, etc.
– ANTIOXIDANT- RICH – Honey is rich in powerful antioxidants and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, which can be found in the propolis. Raw honey contains the widest variety of health-supportive substances, while pasteurized honey does not.
– FRIENDLY BACTERIA RICH – Different honey varieties possess a large number of friendly bacteria: 6 species of lactobacilli and 4 species of bifidobacteria, which may explain many of the “mysterious” therapeutic honey properties.
– PROMOTES HEALING – Raw, unfiltered honey has Anti-microbial, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-fungal & Anti-septic properties. Raw honey can be used as medicine, due to mentioned properties. Intake of unfiltered raw honey promotes healing of wounds by creating a protective wall for wounds, skin ulcers, scrapes, sores, and burns.
– CURES COLDS AND COUGHS – Natural honey lowers throat irritation and offers relief from the colds. Some studies showed that unfiltered raw honey functions just as good as a dose of dextromethorphan in fighting cough, especially at night, enabling you to sleep.
– ANTI-ALLERGY – Unlike conventionally processed honey, unfiltered raw honey combats allergy better. The basis for this is that although it contains pollen (trigger for allergy); the same mechanism is helpful in treating the very symptoms it causes.
– SKIN HEALTH -Unfiltered raw honey is the perfect remedy for various skin conditions such as abrasions, rashes, and burns. It also clears off facial defects resulting from the use of cosmetics such as acne and allergies. In addition, unfiltered raw honey also treats sunburn when applied on the skin.
– SUPPORTS HEALTHY CHOLESTEROL LEVELS — Natural honey may reduce total cholesterol 7%, blood sugar 6%, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol 2%.
– IMPROVES BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL – Experimental evidence indicates that consumption of honey may improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity compared to other sweeteners. The body’s tolerance to honey is significantly better than to sucrose or glucose alone. Individuals with greater glucose intolerance (e.g., those with mild diabetes and Type 1 diabetes) showed significantly better tolerance to honey than sucrose.
– ALKALINE FOOD – Unfiltered raw honey is a source of alkaline food containing vitamins, enzymes, and anti-oxidants. The honey alkalinity aids in combating various diseases.
– SOURCE OF ENERGY – A teaspoonful of unfiltered raw honey energizes the body especially after a vigorous exercise, thanks to its high amount of natural sugar.
– SUPPORTS HEALTHY WEIGHT MANAGEMENT – Raw honey may reduce weight gain and percentage of body fat.
– ANTI-TUMOR PROPERTIES – Raw honey contains cancer preventative phytonutrients.
Raw, unfiltered honey may also:
– Support Healthy Immune System
– Reduce Oxidative Stress
– Help to detox Your body,
– Help aging skin, etc.
Honey is also one of the Superfoods, which helps you to achieve your health, nutrition and weight loss goals! Read more about Superfoods…
PURE HONEY VARIETIES
There are hundreds of honey varieties, with hundreds of differences in flavor, aroma, and color. The color and flavor of honey differ depending on the nectar source (the blossoms) visited by the honey bees.
Very broadly, the darker the honey the heavier the flavor. Buckwheat honey, for example, can be dark to the point of being opaque and has heavier flavor. Conifer honey too, especially, pine honey with almost brown color and fantastic flavor! It’s one of my favorites. On the other hand, Clover honey (common grocery store variety) is very light and tastes like inoffensive flowers. Orange blossom honey, another common grocery store variety, is a light amber with citrus notes. Lavender honey is medium amber and smells like lavender.
PURE AND ARTIFICIAL (FAKE) HONEY
There are different ways of making fake honey:
Inverted sugar solutions and glucose syrups are often used for making fake honey, mixing with it / or replacing it entirely.
Another method is – feeding bees with sugar products or
By adding water (honey that contains more than 25% water, is considered to be falsified).
Artificial honey is a syrup, soluble in water, with a sweet taste, resulting from the hydrolysis of sucrose. It is widely used in the food industry as a sweetener, attracting criticism from many nutritionists and doctors.
Few ways to spot artificial honey:
The Water Test — Fill a glass of water and add one tablespoon of “honey” into the water. Pure honey will settle at the bottom of the glass. Adulterated honey will start dissolving in water.
The Shelf Life Test — Pure honey will crystallize over time. Imitation honey will remain looking like syrup.
The Thumb Test — Put a drop of the honey on your thumb. If it spreads around right away, it’s not pure. If it stays intact – it’s pure!
WAYS TO ENJOY RAW HONEY
The best way to eat honey is with a spoon. The second best way – is on good bread. Some people like “comb honey”. I love it, too! This is honey that is still in a piece of the original honeycomb. To use this, cut a piece of the comb honey and place it in a cup of your favorite hot tea.
You can also add more raw honey to your life in any of the following ways:
-Spread on bread, bagels, muffins, pancakes, and waffles
-Stir a spoonful into oatmeal or yogurt
-Add to smoothies or shakes
-Try this simple combination – pear, feta cheese and honey toast
-Mix with peanut butter and spread on crackers
-Use as a dip for fresh fruit
-Make honey butter: honey + softened butter + cinnamon
-Make raw honey-cacao balls: Blend together ¾ cup raw honey, 2 cups nut butter, 1/3 cup raw cacao powder and ½ cup coconut flakes; roll into balls and chill until firm
-Mix with Tahini – to boost your energy
-Mix with Walnuts
– Make pancake syrup
-Make vinaigrette dressing: 1 tsp. raw honey + 1 tsp. soy sauce + 1/3 cup olive oil + ½ cup apple cider vinegar
-Make honey lemonade: Blend 1 cup raw honey + 1 cup lemon juice. Add 6 cups cold, filtered water.
-Make ginger-citrus Ice Cubes (3tsp grated ginger, 4tsp fresh lemon juice, 3 tsp manuka honey, 3tsp water) You can add these ice cubes to anything you like and make the day just a little more special!
CONSIDERATIONS AND SERVING TIPS
Enjoy the health benefits of raw honey, but consume it in moderation. Each tablespoon boasts 64 calories, and, while this might not seem like much, it can add up quickly if you eat raw honey on a regular basis. Make sure to measure your servings to avoid accidentally over-consuming honey.
RAW HONEY CAUTION
Those allergic or sensitive to celery, pollen, or other bee-related allergies should not consume raw honey. Allergic reactions have been reported after honey use, including asthma, cough, difficulty swallowing, lip or tongue inflammation, shortness of breath, voice changes, etc. Even though pure/natural honey is healthy, moderation should always be practiced.
Who should be cautious when consuming honey?
– Infants younger than 20 months – Most pediatricians will warn against giving babies honey. Babies tend to have more immature immune systems and underdeveloped protective gastrointestinal microorganisms – the “good” bacteria.
– People with FM (Fructose Malabsorption) – Some people have what’s called Fructose Malabsorption, which is characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and gas. If you are not sure, maybe try a little honey on an empty stomach and see what happens, and then increase your intake as wanted.
– People with high blood sugar or type 2 Diabetes – If you have been advised to decrease your sugar or fructose intake, consider both sides (pros and cons) before deciding to skip the nutritious benefits of honey!
DID YOU KNOW? BEE & RAW HONEY FACTS
– Bees are actually one of the oldest forms of animal life, since Neolithic Age, preceding humans on Earth by 10 to 20 million years.
– In Ancient Egypt, the bee was used as a symbol, a hieroglyph, denoting the king of Lower Egypt. Honey was discovered on many wall paintings, belonging to Old Egypt.
– Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians knew about honey therapeutic properties. They called honey – AMBROSIA, which means: the food of the gods!
-Early thinkers like Homer, Pythagoras, Democritus, Hippocrates mentioned that people should eat honey to preserve their health and vigor.
– Honey lasts forever /or almost… An explorer who found a 2000-year-old jar of honey in an Egyptian tomb said it tasted delicious!
– Honey’s ability to attract and retain moisture means that it has long been used as a beauty treatment. It was part of Cleopatra’s daily beauty ritual.
-Honey was used by runners in the Olympic Games in ancient Greece as an energy source.
-It takes 12 bees their entire lifetime to produce just one teaspoon of honey (!)
-At very low temperatures, honey does not freeze solid. Instead, as the temperatures become lower, the viscosity of honey increases and a process of crystallization is slower.
If you enjoyed the article and would like to find out more regarding amazing Bees Super Products, have a look at my blog post about Pure Royal Jelly & its health benefits.