You may already be familiar with honey as a popular alternative to other refined sugars. Because honey is so high in fructose, it’s actually sweeter than regular sugar, which means you can often use less to get the same sweetness you crave. But did you know that there is a difference between the regular honey that you buy in the bear-shaped bottle and the cloudy-looking raw honey you might have seen in jars at health food stores? It turns out that raw honey is quite different from its processed counterpart. We brought in a dietitian for some information on that buzzing superfood, raw honey, and to find out why you might want to keep a jar as a staple in your pantry. and medicine cabinet for all its health benefits.
How is raw honey different from regular honey?
“To put it simply, raw honey is honey as it is found in the beehive,” explains Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real nutrition. Raw honey is extracted directly from the honeycomb and filtered to get rid of dirt, wax, and other debris before being bottled. Unlike regular honey, raw honey does not go through a pasteurization or filtration process, which gives it its characteristic cloudy appearance. In regular honey, the filtration process that gives it that clear, friendly appearance and its watery, waterable texture also removes most of the beneficial byproducts from honey like pollen, antioxidants, and enzymes.
“Most of the health benefits are found in raw honey,” she says. “Regular processed honey tends to be simply used and viewed as a source of sugar.” If you have had a jar of raw honey in your pantry for a while, you might notice that it begins to solidify and crystallize. Don’t worry, honey doesn’t have an expiration date and crystallization is a completely normal reaction that won’t make the raw material any worse for you. (So don’t throw that jar away!)
Finally, what about organic labeled honey? While the organic is good, it just means the bees are organic, not that the product is raw or offers any benefits beyond providing a sweet drizzle for your morning oatmeal.
Main health benefits of raw honey
Raw honey has antibacterial properties.
Raw honey is antimicrobial and antibacterial, making it an effective treatment for wounds and infections. Skeptical? You are probably used to using hydrogen peroxide on cuts to prevent infections. It turns out that raw honey contains an enzyme that naturally produces hydrogen peroxide by breaking down sugars in glucose. While you should always see a doctor before you start using honey for medicinal purposes, it can be a great natural addition to your wound healing repertoire.
Another type of honey that you may have heard of in wellness circles is manuka honey. Although manuka is not raw, it is a specialized form of honey that has serious potential health and drug benefits due to its extra-high antibacterial activity. If you are looking to use honey to heal wounds, manuka is another fantastic option that was shown not only to prevent infection, but also to accelerate wound healing. Shapiro also recommends consuming this specialized, dark, thick honey to his clients for its potential health benefits and for medications, which have been suggested to relieve sore throats and help soothe indigestion.
Raw honey is rich in antioxidants.
“Raw honey contains over 30 different polyphenols, 22 amino acids and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals,” Shapiro explains. Polyphenols are responsible for the high content of raw honey antioxidant level, which help your body protect against free radicals (and therefore are believed to improve overall health). The pasteurization process that regular honey goes through kills these powerful phytonutrients.
Raw honey contains anti-inflammatory pollen.
A potent component that is difficult to find outside of raw honey is pollen. According to Shapiro, pollen adds nutritional value by adding fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and has been shown to fight inflammation, improve liver function, and possibly prevent heart disease. and stroke.
Incorporate raw honey in your diet in moderation
Even with all the health benefits that raw honey can offer, it is still important to exercise moderation when adding it to your diet. Shapiro recommends limiting honey to 1 to 2 teaspoons. “Remember, this is always added sugar and a lot of the sugar in honey is fructose, which goes into our liver and can lead to fatty liver disease if we get too much of it. ” Consider using raw honey in place of other added sugars and instead of pasteurized honey, but don’t go overboard with the sweet stuff. Moderation remains the key. It’s also important to note that raw honey may contain a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous for babies under one year old.
These considerations aside, raw honey adds a delicious touch to both sweet and savory foods, as well as a variety of drinks. “I like to add a teaspoon of honey to my tea or lemon water during the winter to boost immunity, fight dry throat, and add natural sweetness,” Shapiro explains. I also like to sprinkle honey on my avocado toast with sea salt and crushed red pepper flakes. A little salty, spicy and sweet to start my day. “
Try using raw honey in some of these recipes to give them a healthy boost.
Classic Spicy Toddy
Best enjoyed with appetizers by the fireside, this hot whiskey drink is filled with fragrant baking spices (cardamom and anise, in this case), and the sweet honey draws the flavor of the spices into an infused simple syrup. Note: Add honey at the end when the water has cooled a bit to protect the raw goodness
Honey soppressata pizza
Honey may seem out of place alongside spicy soppressata and funky fontina, but they all sing in delicious harmony when combined on a pizza.
Sweet, ripe mangoes need little help in the smoothie aisle. This smoothie is a welcome pick-me-up in the morning, as well as a refreshing sip alongside spicy foods or as an after-dinner dessert alternative.
Honey Pistachio Yogurt Bark
Adding honey to this gorgeous frozen yoga bark adds just the right amount of sweetness, and the chopped pistachios add crunch and saltiness. Feel free to sprinkle the yogurt with whatever nuts or dried fruit you have on hand, whether it’s almonds or dried cranberries.