When we think of vegetables, we know that raw, unprocessed vegetables have higher nutritional value than their cooked counterparts, and honey is no different.
Why Raw Honey?
Raw honey is honey that hasn’t been heated or pasteurized, and it contains natural vitamins, enzymes, powerful antioxidants, and other important nutrients. Raw honey has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, and promotes digestive health.
Raw, local honey also contains a blend of local pollen, which can strengthen a person’s immune system, and reduce pollen allergy symptoms.
When honey is removed from the hive, it needs to be strained to remove parts of bee bodies and pieces of wax. If a coarse strainer is used without heating, then the honey will contain the pollen that was present in the original honey from the local area. If this local honey is ingested regularly, it can reduce pollen allergy symptoms in humans.
What’s Not Raw Honey?
Most commercial honey; however, does not use the processing method described above. Instead, very fine filters are used along with heat to create pasteurized honey that no longer contains pollen but that has a long shelf life. This pasteurized, ultra-filtered honey does not have the nutritional benefits of raw honey.
In the U.S., the FDA says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. But, no ones checking U.S. honey to see if it contains pollen.
Ultra filtering is a procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down, and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen (which is the only foolproof method of identifying the source of the honey). It’s a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey (some containing illegal antibiotics and other substances such as heavy metals) on the U.S. market for years.
What’s the Difference Between Raw and Processed?
|EFFECT/DESCRIPTION||RAW HONEY||PROCESSED HONEY|
|Blood Sugar Stabilizing||✔|
|May Contain Antibiotics||✔|
|Clear Gold, Syrupy||✔|
|Opaque, Cloudy, Viscous||✔|
|Contains Beneficial Enzymes & Vitamins||✔|
|Free Radical Reducing||✔|
|Decreases LDL Cholesterol||✔|
|Contains Flavonoids & Phytonutrients||✔|
|Contains Bee Pollen||✔|
|Stabilizes Blood Pressure||✔|
|Promotes Digestive Health||✔|
Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets to find out whether it was truly honey. They purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia. After having them analyzed, they found that:
- 76% of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed,
- 100% of the honey sampled from drugstores had no pollen.
- 77% of the honey sampled from big box stores had the pollen filtered out.
- 100% of the honey packaged in small individual portions had no pollen.
If it’s not honey, and it doesn’t have the nutritional benefits of honey – what’s the point of buying what’s in the stores? Local real honey will probably cost more, but at least you’ll know it has the health benefits of real honey. Support your local apiarist and honey bees!