It’s hard to go past a good-quality honey, but while it’s easy to pick up a jar of the sweet stuff at the supermarket and throw it into the trolly, it’s important to know not all honey is created equal, and some can actually be a big waste of money.
Honey has been making headlines a lot in recent years. Manuka honey in particular has seen a huge rise in popularity thanks to claims about its medicinal benefits, while other types on honey, including both raw and refined, have been hailed as the best sugar alternatives on the market.
Unfortunately consumers don’t always get what they think they’re purchasing. In August, Australian company Capilano faced accusations it was selling fake honey to customers after researchers at a leading international scientific lab uncovered other substances in almost half of all honey samples taken from supermarket shelves.
While Capilano’s honey is marketed as 100 per cent honey, the researchers found its Allowrie branded Mixed Blossom Honey had actually been mixed with rice syrup, beet syrup and other unidentified substances.
The reality is that purchasing pure nutritionally-dense honey is hard to come by.
Healthy Life Nutritionist Cayte Moxom told Starts at 60 there are a lot of misconceptions about the health benefits of honey and shoppers should get clued up before spending their hard-earned cash on substandard products. Consumers can currently choose from three major types of honey: refined honey, raw honey and medicinal honey.
Many consumers believe all three types are beneficial, however, while raw and medicinal honey, such as Manuka honey, can have health benefits, refined varieties are often only beneficial as a sugar replacement. In some cases, Moxom claims, honey can be so heavily processed it does you more harm than good.
“The big difference is the antibacterial properties that come with raw honey and high strength Manuka products, which contain all the special nutrients that bees collect from nature and bring back to their beehive,” she explains.
Because a lot of honey products look the same, Moxom says the best way to tell if a honey is healthy is to check that it has been certified organic, “which means that all the natural goodness should still be intact and no nasties have snuck in during heavy processing”.
Here’s a breakdown on the three major varieties:
Highly processed and pasteurised, refined honey contains no healing properties. While it can be a great sugar replacement, honey still contains fructose, which can convert to fat in the body.
“Watch out for jars of honey that have been so heavily processed that they’re actually bad for your health,” Moxom advises.
However, if you do choose a good-quality honey from the supermarket, it makes a great natural sweetener for those wanting to cut back on sugar in their diets.
“To curb sugar cravings, replace sugar with honey in tea or coffee or spread on toast in place of a sweet jam,” Moxon suggests.
“Rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes, raw honey contains antibacterial and anti-fungal properties,” Moxom says.
The health benefits associated with raw honey include relieving sore throats, digestive problems and blood sugar levels. Those looking to kickstart the day with a health boost can also add one teaspoon of raw honey to a mug of hot water and lemon.
And if you’re looking to get more out of your jar, trying using raw honey as a beauty product. Moxon suggests using it to make a face mask along with other healing ingredients like oats and milk.
Manuka honey has seen a rise in popularity over the past few years due to its powerful antibacterial properties. The health benefits can include assisting with allergies, anti-ageing, oral health, gut healthy, fighting infection and blood sugar levels just to name a few.
But what is it? Manuka honey is derived from the bees that feed on the Manuka plant, which are found in New Zealand.
Moxom recommends taking one to two teaspoons of Manuka honey per days, adding: “It’s best consumed straight off the teaspoon at room temperature.”
She says boiling water is a big no for Manuka honey as it can kill the honey’s special healing properties.