All honey may be sweet, but manuka honey has a few extra nutrients and potential health benefits that make it one of the most sought-after types of honey in the world. Before you go out in search of manuka honey, it is best to understand what makes it so unique, as well as the potential health benefits it can deliver.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is a type of honey that is specifically produced by bees in New Zealand and Southern Australia, who feed on the nectar from a particular plant – the manuka flower. At face value, this honey isn’t very different from normal honey, still possessing the golden color and smooth gel-like texture. However, manuka honey is special because of the chemical components found in those special flowers.
All types of honey are known to be antibacterial in nature, but manuka honey can be far more powerful in terms of its antibacterial effects, thanks to a chemical called methylglyoxal (MG). This compound is found in most types of honey in very small levels, but in manuka honey, the level of MG is much higher. When more of this compound is present, the honey has a more notable level of antibacterial effects. Due to the powerful effects of this honey variety, it is growing increasingly popular around the world, but it can be quite expensive, due to the limited area of its production.
Unique Manuka Factor
Just because something is called manuka honey doesn’t necessarily mean that it is packed with antibacterial components; therefore, a measurement standard has been established – the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). If a honey has a rating that is above 10 UMF, it is considered potent and can be marketed as Active Manuka Honey. With a high level of enzymes (e.g., dihydroxyacetone), which leads to a higher UMF rating, varieties of this honey can be labeled as medicinal.
How to Verify Genuine UMF Manuka Honey?
You can verify the UMF rating of manuka honey to be genuine by a few recognizable signs. There should be a clear UMF verification seal on the front of any package, as well as certification that the product is created in New Zealand. The UMF rating of every form of manuka honey will lie between 5-16+; again, anything over 10 is considered a medicinal strength. Finally, the package will have the license number and company name on the label, verifying that it is genuine.
Manuka Honey Nutrition Facts
This specialized variety of honey will contain high levels of amino acids, copper, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and a number of antioxidants, as well as higher levels of methylglyoxal than other forms of honey. There are some sugars (carbohydrates) in this form of honey, as well as a trace amount of protein.
Manuka Honey Health Benefits
The best health benefits of manuka honey include its ability to protect skin health, optimize digestion, strengthen the immune system, speed healing, prevent oral infections, regulate allergic reactions, and boost the respiratory system, among others.
With a diverse range of minerals and vitamins, manuka honey is very good for protecting the skin from oxidative stress and premature aging. Furthermore, as an antioxidant and antibacterial substance, it is able to clear up infections on the skin and prevent inflammation from various conditions.
Studies have found that manuka honey is able to balance the bacterial environment in the gut, which can prevent acid reflux disease, improve digestive efficiency, and eliminate symptoms of bloating, cramping, and constipation.
Boosts Immune System
The antibacterial qualities of manuka honey make it famous all over the world, so the higher the UMF rating of your honey is, the better it will be for your immune system and your defense against foreign pathogens and bacterial infections.
Speed up Healing
This honey is known to speed up healing, thanks to the rich supply of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. It can be applied to wounds and burns to protect against infection and increase blood flow to the skin so healing occurs faster.
Reduces Oral Infection
When you eat this honey, it can have a significant impact on your oral health, reducing your risk of gingivitis and other common infections that can take root in your teeth and gums.
Studies have linked the use of manuka honey to mitigating the allergic reaction of the body, which can reduce unnecessary responses by the immune system.
Manuka Honey Side Effects
There are a few side effects of this honey, including its effects on diabetes, weight gain, and possible allergic reactions, among others. However, in moderate quantities, you should be able to safely use this honey without any negative side effects.
There is some sugar found in manuka honey, and while it isn’t extremely high, the regular use of this can be dangerous for diabetic patients, as it will cause an increase in blood sugar.
There are approximately 60 calories per tablespoon of this honey; that isn’t very high, but excessive use can compromise your caloric intake goals, leading to a possible weight gain.
In rare cases, people are allergic to either the bee venom or pollen of the manuka flower, in which case, consuming this honey can result in gastrointestinal distress or topical allergic reactions, such as rashes or itching.
How to use Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey can be used in many of the same ways as traditional honey, both in foods and beverages, as well as in topical and oral medicinal applications.
Manuka honey is used to sweeten various desserts and is often used in glazes and marinades.
Honey is commonly added to tea, and manuka honey is a great alternative, as it will provide even more of an immune system boost with your cup of tea.
If you want to settle your stomach, relieve respiratory distress or soothe inflammation, you can simply eat a tablespoon of this honey, or mix it with warm milk. For topical inflammation of pain, simply rub this honey on the affected area for 10-20 minutes while it soaks in.