I just bought a jar of milky raw honey from a farmer’s market when I was on a recent road trip, and it’s sublime. It got me thinking about the difference between raw and pure honey. Is raw honey healthier for us and why?
Raw Honey Vs Liquid Honey: What is the Difference?
So what exactly is the difference between raw honey and the perfectly golden, liquid honey that you see often bottled in a squeezable bottle?
First of all, raw honey has not been heated excessively through pasteurization. The only way to get that perfectly clear look of most commercial honeys is to heat it and then filter it excessively.
The problem with heat is that many nutrients in honey are very sensitive to it and die. It’s the beneficial enzymes found in raw honey that make it so digestible to humans. Raw honey is minimally filtered and does not destroy the health promoting enzymes and other nutrients.
Raw honey is solid at room temperature (like honey should be) and it also looks opaque and milky. You should be suspicious if a honey that is marketed as “raw” is clear and runny. The sold “milky” honey still contains the bee pollen granules, bee propolis, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
Buying Raw Honey:
Look for a honey that comes from one country of origin. A lot of mass honey producers will blend honeys together from a variety of countries. As long as the majority of the honey is from one country, they are allowed to say it is from that particular country on their label depending on labeling laws.
Look for local honey, and often local producers will sell in either Wholefoods or your local farmer’s market.
Look for the Following on the Label:
When selecting a raw honey for you and your family, make sure the word “raw” is on the label.
Why Raw Honey Is Healthier Than Sugar
One tablespoon of table sugar or sucrose contains 46 calories, while one tablespoon of natural sweetener honey has 64 calories. Though honey may have more calories, we actually need to use less of it since it is sweeter than table sugar. As a result, you may in fact consume even less amount of calories that you would with sugar.
Honey has a healthier Glycemic Index (GI) which measures the negative impact of a given food on the blood-glucose level. The lower the GI rating, the slower the absorption and infusion of sugars into the bloodstream and hence a more gradual and healthier digestion process. Honey has a lower GI index than sugar, but it also depends on the type of honey you use. Floral honey tends to have the lowest GI index.
Unlike honey, sugar lacks minerals, vitamins and enzymes – it is an empty calorie.
How Bees Make Honey
The formula how bees create this natural nectar, cannot be re-produced synthetically by man.
Honeybees pre-digest the nectar in their bellies before they bring it back to the hive. (this is one of the reasons it is so digestible by us!)
In order to make pure honey the honeybee puts its “provis” or long tongue down into the flower and sucks up the nectar as it travels from flower to flower. The bees tongue is built like a straw. When it sucks up the nectar it goes into the honeybee’s sack where it mixes with enzymes (that only the honeybee has) in the honey sack.
After the honeybee returns to the hive it passes the nectar from bee to bee and they store the nectar in the honey comb to ripen into the honey we can eat.
To produce a single pound of honey, the bees must bring in around 75,000 loads of nectar and then process it. This could take many, many days.
Bees are constantly going back and forth from plant to plant and then back to the hive. On their way back they are carrying 85% of their weight in nectar! A busy bee hive can product up to 300 pounds of honey in a single season.
So look for RAW, floral honey – I always mix it into my homemade yogurt with a handful of raw almonds and fresh blueberries for a healthy breakfast.