We’ve used honey in various recipes for years. But if you look a little more closely, you’ll see there’s a slight difference in today’s recipes, especially those that are focused on health. Today’s health recipes emphasize using raw honey. This immediately brings up a whole lot of questions.
What is raw honey?
Raw honey vs honey – what’s the difference?
Is raw honey safe?
Is raw honey good for you?
What are the benefits of raw honey vs processed honey?
Then of course …
Where can you buy raw honey?
Which is the best raw honey to buy?
Alright, let’s get right down to it and answer all those raw honey questions.
What Is Raw Honey?
The simplest explanation is that raw honey is honey as it exists in the beehive. Let’s back up a little bit and see how the honey is produced in the first place.
Honeybees toil long and hard over summer to collect pollen and produce honey. They fill the honey in little hexagonal cells of the honeycomb and seal each cell with beeswax. This allows them to store the honey until they need to dip into their reserves in winter when pollen is scarce.
To extract the raw honey the beekeeper first uses special tools to pull off the beeswax caps gently so there is minimum damage to the honeycomb structure. This makes it easier for the bees to repair the honeycomb and use it again to store more honey.
The beekeeper then spins the honeycomb to extract the honey. This spinning can be done with a manual hand-powered extractor or an electric extractor. Oh yeah, this is done in a closed shed as the sweet smell of honey will attract bees from around the area. Not so good for the beekeeper.
The raw honey that is extracted contains little bits of beeswax, some debris and a few dead bees. The extract is then strained through a mesh to separate these extra bits. The beeswax collected during this step can be used to make different types of handmade beauty products.
The strained raw honey is left to sit for a few days during which the remaining wax particles float to the top. These wax particles are skimmed off and the remaining honey is filled into sterilized glass bottles.
There you have it! If you’ve ever wondered what is raw honey, now you know.
Raw Honey vs Honey
So what’s the difference between raw honey and regular honey or raw honey vs pure honey?
Raw honey and pure honey are vastly different in terms of the way they are processed, the way they look, their nutritional value and their healing properties.
Raw honey vs. pure honey – difference in processing
One of the key differences between regular and raw honey is how it is processed. Raw honey is simply extracted from the honeycomb using a spinning process.
Regular honey is pasteurized and filtered raw honey. This is done to prevent fermentation of the honey while it is sitting on the store shelf or while it travels through different climates to the selling location.
Raw honey vs. pure honey – difference in appearance
One way to tell if the honey you are buying has been put through this process is to simply look at it. Real raw honey has a more opaque appearance and will contain tiny grains either floating around or settled at the bottom. These grains are simply the bits of beeswax that did not get strained out. They melt easily in hot water or hot liquid and are safe to eat.
Regular or pure honey would have gone through several filtration steps and looks clear with no stray bits and pieces.
Raw honey vs. pure honey – difference in nutrition
Another easy way to see if the raw honey you are buying is really raw is to check the nutrition label.
Raw honey contains Vitamins A, C, D, E, and B-complex. It should also contain an enzyme known as amylase. This is an enzyme you will only find in raw honey. It helps with digestion and other stomach issues.
If certain ingredients, especially Vitamin B and amylase aren’t listed, then you know the honey isn’t raw. These two ingredients tend to get removed from the raw material during the filtering and pasteurization processes.
Processed honey is loaded with sugar and other preservatives and has little or no healing properties.
Benefits of Raw Honey – The Healing Power of Raw Honey
You might love honey because of the sweet taste, adding it to your coffee, tea, or biscuits. It also happens to be very good for you, especially when you choose the raw and unfiltered honey that doesn’t have added sugar. Here are some health benefits associated with raw honey.
Here are some of honey’s healing uses.
Eases Cough and Cold Symptoms
Studies have shown that regularly eating raw honey helps prevent colds. It also helps soothe coughs and sore throats. Its viscous texture coats the throat, and has a cough-suppressing effect. Its antibacterial properties help fight throat infections and upper respiratory infections.
You can make your own healing cough syrup by gently heating raw honey and mixing in healing herbs such as sliced ginger. Steep the ginger in the honey for a few hours, and strain out the herbs before ingesting.
Raw honey has been shown in various studies to be an extremely effective burn treatment. It has various antibacterial compounds that have yet to result in bacterial resistance, and its moist nature helps keep burned skin supple and reduces moisture loss.
To use raw honey to treat minor burns, simply spread it over the burn and cover lightly with gauze. Raw honey does not need to be refrigerated, but it feels good on a burn if it’s chilled.
Minimizes Allergy Symptoms
Interestingly enough, regularly eating raw honey may prevent or at least minimize allergic symptoms, particularly those of hay fever. Because raw honey contains residual pollen and other plant components, the theory is that the low levels of exposure – such as occurs with allergy shots – may reduce sensitivity to common allergens.
Allergies tend to run rampant during the fall and winter seasons. You’ll be glad to have a bottle of raw honey on hand during these times. It is not necessarily a cure for your seasonal allergies, but it can help with some of the side effects. For example, honey is excellent for easing your sore throat. If your allergy symptoms include a sore throat and coughing, a mug of warm tea with honey and lemon will help soothe your throat.
Some interesting studies have shown that raw honey is a remarkable wound healer, especially for diabetics who have trouble with minor wounds developing into ulcers. It may even reduce scarring and tends to be less painful than conventional antiseptics.
Softens Dry Skin
Honey is good for dry skin due to its high moisture content, and its antibacterial qualities may help with skin infections like acne.
Plain yogurt mixed with honey makes a soothing cleanser or facial mask.
Sugar mixed with raw honey and sweet almond oil makes a moisturizing exfoliant.
Boosts Natural Energy
Raw honey gives your natural energy an instant boost. When you feel that afternoon slump coming on, a spoonful of raw honey can give you that much-needed energy boost to keep going on. You can either have it plain or stir it in your cup of coffee instead of sugar.
A spoonful of raw honey will give you an energy boost before your workouts as well.
One of the leading benefits of raw honey is that is an all-in-one remedy that can replace several of your current supplements. If you are taking supplements for anti-inflammatory or for digestive issues and antioxidants than consider switching them out for raw honey.
Raw honey is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and is loaded with antioxidants. It even helps with digestive issues that range from constipation to upset stomachs and ulcers.
Remember, raw honey is the purest form you can buy. If the honey is not raw it may be cut with processed sugars and other preservatives that take away from the health benefits. One way to check for raw honey is either looking on the label or buying honey that has a piece of the honeycomb in it.
Eases Digestive Issues
The healing properties in raw honey helps with many stomach problems, from diarrhea and constipation, to peptic ulcers. With peptic ulcers, you need about 2 tablespoons of raw honey per day to help with the pain. The good news is that honey is very easy to add to your food or drinks, such as tea or coffee, and breakfast baked goods.
Has Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
Speaking of bacteria and germs, honey can help get rid of them year-round. Raw, natural honey has properties that make it antibacterial, thanks to the bees adding enzymes in the honey. It also works as a natural anti-fungal remedy. If you are putting together a natural first aid kit, honey should always be included.
How To Use Raw Honey For Health
One of the great things about honey is how good it tastes. Children (over 1 year of age) respond well to honey as a treatment.
Fortunately, there are several easy ways to add raw honey to your diet and get the benefits that you need.
Add a Teaspoon to Your Morning Coffee or Tea
Instead of adding sugar to your coffee or tea, grab the raw honey instead. The trick to this is, if you use a coffeehouse or coffee chain to get your morning coffee, you will want to have your own raw honey on hand. This is because most coffee shops do not store raw honey and use commercially processed honey instead.
It’s not difficult to do this. Many health food stores sell raw honey in straw form. You can pack a few straws and just carry them with you to use whenever you need an instant sweetener. One honey stick equals about one teaspoon of raw honey and can easily be added after you order your coffee.
Use Instead of Syrup
If you have pancakes or waffles in the morning, or if you add syrup or sugar to your oatmeal, consider using raw honey instead. You do not need as much of it to get the sweet flavor you are looking for. It also will give you the benefits of raw honey throughout the day including a burst of energy.
Add to Energy Bars
One of the easiest ways to add raw honey to your diet is to make your own energy bars using a daily serving of honey in each bar. This will make it easy for you to know how much you are getting in a serving. It will also replace the sugars that you would normally use in the energy bars. Make sure you are making a superfood bar to increase the benefits. You can have this energy bar at lunch, for a snack, or as part of a dessert after lunch.
These are the three easiest ways to add raw honey to your diet. Try these and expand the uses out to other foods and other points in your day. You may be surprised how easy it is to add it into your daily routine.
Herbal Teas That Taste Great With Honey
If you are a tea drinker, you may be wondering what teas you can easily add honey too without making them too sweet. Though there are the traditional black teas, there are other teas that taste great with honey. Here are a few of those teas and how you can easily make them yourself or how to make them without having them turn out too sweet.
Fruit Based Teas
Most fruit-based herbal teas taste great with honey. You can make these yourself fairly easily by just using citrus based fruits or dried fruits like strawberries.
Boil water, add the fruits, and then add some raw honey. You can drain it if necessary or eat the fruit.
You can also buy loose leaf fruity tea blends or pre-bagged fruit teas. Just brew the fruity tea, pour into your tea cup and add a little raw honey to sweeten it.
Chamomile is known for its calming effects, but sometimes the taste may not be ideal. Stirring a little raw honey in a cup of chamomile tea will sweeten up the tea while also giving you the benefits of chamomile and raw honey. If you drink chamomile tea to help you sleep, the addition of honey will calm your body and soothe your stomach so you sleep much better.
Green tea offers a wide range of benefits but what deters people from drinking this powerhouse of nutrients is its bitter taste. Many people add sugar to offset the taste but this can be counterproductive especially if you are drinking green tea as part of your weight loss strategy. Raw honey can help make the green tea more palatable while also boosting its weight loss properties.
Major brands have already proven how well honey works with green tea in iced tea formulas, and the same can be said for hot tea as well.
If you are concerned with adding honey to your tea when you are on the go, consider carrying raw honey sticks with you. They are easy to carry, easy to store, and can easily be added to any of the tea you order while out. You can also get flavored raw honey sticks as well that can add cinnamon or other flavors.
Where to Buy Raw Honey – Best Brand of Raw Honey to Buy
One brand that has earned rave reviews is Nature Nate’s. Nature Nate’s 100% Raw & Unfiltered Honey has not undergone any pasteurizing process. The honey is extracted directly from the honeycomb, strained and gently warmed so retain the original pollen composition. It is a rich source of Vitamin C, antioxidants, protein, iron and fiber.