Natural Honey » Health Benefits & Risks

What is Natural Honey?

Raw or rather Natural Honey is the most original sweet liquid that honeybees produce from the concentrated nectar of flowers. In that case, collected straight from the honey extractor; it is totally unheated, unpasteurized, unprocessed pure honey.

Since natural honey is thickened and sweetened by honeybees, it’s loaded with a variety of healthy and beneficial plant compounds. Therefore, raw honey is best described as honey in its purest form and directly from the beehive.

However, there’s controversy surrounding which type of honey — raw or regular — is healthiest. Whereby, some people believe that the raw variety of natural honey is better for optimal health. While others claim there is no difference between the two.

Natural Honey Health Benefits & Risks
Natural Honey Health Benefits & Risks – Image by Fancycrave1 from Pixabay

How is Natural Honey obtained?

To enumerate, natural honey is made by extracting honey from the honeycombs of the hive and pouring it over a mesh or nylon cloth. Especially, to separate the honey from impurities like beeswax and dead bees.

Once strained, raw honey is bottled and ready to be enjoyed.

On the other hand, the production of regular honey involves several more steps before it is bottled — such as pasteurization and filtration.

In other words, Pasteurization is a process that destroys the yeast found in honey by applying high heat. This helps extend the shelf life and makes it smoother.

Also, filtration further removes impurities like debris and air bubbles so that the honey stays as a clear liquid for longer. This is aesthetically appealing to many consumers.

Then again, some commercial honey is additionally processed by undergoing ultrafiltration. This process further refines it to make it more transparent and smooth. But, it can also remove beneficial nutrients like pollen, enzymes, and antioxidants.

Moreover, some manufacturers may add sugar or sweeteners to honey to reduce costs.

How does Regular and Natural Honey Differ?

Nutritionally, 1 tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar, including fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose.

In addition, it contains virtually no fiber, fat or protein. It also contains trace amounts — under 1% of the RDI — of several vitamins and minerals. But, you would have to eat many pounds to fulfill your daily requirements.

Where honey shines is in its content of bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants. Darker types tend to be even higher in these compounds than lighter types. But, how do you spot and tell the difference?

Raw Honey:

In the first place, natural honey comes straight from the honeycomb. The beekeeper will usually just filter the honey to remove small bits of debris. Including pollen, beeswax, and parts of dead bees. They do not pasteurize the honey.

In addition, natural honey tends to have more variation in color and texture than regular honey. The color of raw honey may change depending on what flowers the bees pollinated.

Regular Honey:

Regular, or pasteurized honey, is clear and smooth. The pasteurization process improves the honey’s appearance, increases its shelf-life, and kills yeast cells that can affect the taste of the honey.

However, some people believe that pasteurization reduces the number of antioxidants and nutrients in the honey.

While no large studies have confirmed that raw honey is more nutritious than regular honey, some small studies suggest that raw honey may offer extra health benefits.

Benefits of Natural Honey
Surprising Health Benefits of Natural Honey – Image by ExplorerBob from Pixabay

What are the Benefits of Natural Honey?

One thing for sure, natural honey has been used as a folk remedy throughout history and has a variety of health benefits and medical uses.

Not forgetting, it’s even used in some hospitals as a treatment for wounds. Many of these health benefits are specific to raw, or unpasteurized, honey.

Most of the honey you find in grocery stores is pasteurized. The high heat kills unwanted yeast, can improve the color and texture, removes any crystallization, and extends the shelf life. Many of the beneficial nutrients are also destroyed in the process.

With this in mind, below are some health benefits raw honey has to offer:

1. Healing wounds and burns

Surprisingly, Manuka honey (made in Australia and New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush) is used in medical settings to treat wounds. Because it’s been found to be an effective germ killer and also aids in tissue regeneration.

Additionally, studies show that Manuka honey can boost healing time and reduce infection. Keep in mind that the honey used in hospital settings is medical grade, meaning it’s inspected and sterile. It’s not a good idea to treat cuts with honey you buy from a store.

When applied to the skin, honey can be part of an effective treatment plan for burns, wounds and many other skin conditions. It is particularly effective for diabetic foot ulcers.

2. Soothe a sore throat

Do you have a cold? Try a spoonful of honey. Honey is an old sore throat remedy. Add it to hot tea with lemon when a cold virus hits you.

It also works as a cough suppressant. Research has suggested that honey is as effective as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cough medication.

Just take one or two teaspoonfuls, straight.

3. Natural honey aids digestion

By the same token, natural honey is sometimes used to treat digestive issues. Such as diarrhea, though there isn’t much research to show that it works.

It’s proven to be effective as a treatment for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, though, a common cause of stomach ulcers.

Equally important, it’s also a potent prebiotic, meaning it nourishes the good bacteria that live in the intestines, which are crucial not only for digestion but overall health.

Natural Honey Health Risks 

Important to realize, not all raw honey is organic. For one thing, organic honey may still have undergone processing and pasteurization.

It is safe for people to consume both raw and regular honey, though it is a good idea to avoid types of honey that contain added sugars.

Both raw and regular honey may contain tiny amounts of bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria can cause botulism, which is a rare form of food poisoning.

Honey is safe for most people over 12 months of age. However, infants 12 months of age and younger should not eat any honey, including raw and regular honey. A baby’s digestive tract has not yet developed enough to fight off the bacteria.

In rare cases, people who have a severe pollen allergy may react to raw honey, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. People who have severe pollen allergies should speak with a doctor or allergist before eating or using raw honey.

People who are allergic to bee pollen should also avoid raw honey and other bee products.

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