Honey has long been appreciated as a prized food in ancient Egypt and Greek, and known for its therapeutic healing properties for being antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It was even so valuable that it was used to pay worker’s salaries back in ancient Egyptian times.
In modern times, honey is still upheld as a great superfood, as it is a natural sweetener and contains many health properties. In fact, Manuka honey, harvested from the Manuka bush, is highly regarded as compared to all regular honeys.
Considering that the price tag for Manuka honey is much higher than regular honey, it would be good to understand the true differences between the two.
What Makes Manuka Honey So Special Compared to Regular Honey?
Limited Production of Manuka Honey
For one thing, Manuka honey is only harvested from the Manuka bush Leptospermum scoparium that is found near where the bees gather. Native to New Zealand and parts of Australia, the Manuka tree is less common than other plants and only blooms 2-6 weeks out of a year. Manuka honey is only produced in areas abundant with the Manuka flower, which are often remote and untouched lands in New Zealand. Some of these land areas require a helicopter ride to get there and are often untouched by development, pollution and other effects of urbanisation. In addition, it often takes more skill and resources to harvest Manuka honey. Thus, this justifies the price of Manuka honey is generally being more expensive than regular honeys.
Likewise, you’ll notice that Manuka honey is often much thicker and denser in appearance and flavour. Most often, Manuka honey is lightly filtered and retains more nutritional content along with bee pollen, propolis, and amino acids in the honey. While Manuka honey is not completely raw, it is mostly unprocessed.
In comparison, most commercially available honeys are often a mixed blend of two or more honeys differing in floral source, color, flavor, density, or geographic origin, thus the taste is not as rich and intense as Manuka honey. It is not as pure as a monofloral honey like Manuka honey, and it is often adulterated and watered down with the addition of glucose, dextrose, molasses, sugar syrup, invert sugar, flour, corn syrup, or starch.
Beneficial Health Properties
Not only is Manuka honey a healthy, natural superfood, it contains several beneficial health properties like being anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal. Manuka honey has been used for effectively helping with wound healing, sore throats, coughs, indigestion and even oral health.
The active compound in Manuka honey is methylglyoxal which is largely responsible for its antibacterial effects. Studies are currently being done to test how methylglyoxal affects bacteria strains like E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Furthermore, when used as a sugar substitute, Manuka honey has a low glycemic index, meaning that it has a low sugar impact and can help maintain stable blood sugar levels in the body.
Thus overall, Manuka honey has wonderful health properties beyond its taste. It is also very versatile such that it can be consumed directly, added into your baking or cooking, or even applied topically for wounds or as a DIY face mask.
Next time, when you pick up a bottle of Manuka honey, you would be able to appreciate how this medicinal honey has been harvested and brought to you. Not only is it valuable for health, but the amount of time and effort to harvest 100% natural Manuka honey is immense. When you do taste the Manuka honey, savour it in your mouth and don’t forget to give thanks to the bees and Manuka plants that created this special honey for us all.