Thanks to the influx of different forms of honey in the market and the confusion arising from labelling it has become quite tricky to incorporate honey in our diet to reap in its many benefits. At Botaniq, we want to demystify honey and stop the confusion around different types of honey to make you a savvy shopper.
But first, what are the different types of honey? Based on its texture, honey can be either liquid, granulated, creamed, chunked, or even comb honey.
Depending on the level of processing, honey can again be divided into raw and pasteurised forms. Raw honey is the original unprocessed form. It is directly extracted from the comb before being coarsely filtered and bottled. It has the highest therapeutic value. Pasteurised honey is obtained after heat-treating and straining to slow crystallisation and retain its liquid form.
Another classification of honey is based on the nectar source. Honey produced by bees that harvest over a certain percentage of nectar from a single species of flowers is classed as monofloral honey, for example, Acacia Honey or Linden Honey. But if the majority of nectar comes from more than one species of flowers, then it is multifloral honey.
Here, we compare raw and pure honey and explain the meaning of each term.
Raw vs Pure honey
Raw honey is essentially honey that is unpasteurised and unfiltered. As such, it is packed with antioxidants and is packed with health benefits.
Pure honey, on the other hand, has no additional ingredients added to the mix. This means that it shouldn’t include, corn syrup, sugar or artificial flavourings. Pure honey can have a range of sources and this will depend on where the bees have taken their nectar. It could be a bush, clover, manuka or pohutukawa honey.
The key difference here is that while neither type will have any added ingredients, pure honey could have been pasteurised. This makes raw honey superior to pure honey mainly because all its nutrients remain intact.
Is Raw Honey Organic?
Another common confusion among conscious health shoppers is to think all raw honey is organic. As said before, raw honey is unpasteurised which enables it to retain all its enzymes and properties it has in the hive.
Organic honey, meanwhile, is derived from flowers that the bees use have not been treated with chemicals.
This is why it’s important to note that while raw honey can be organic; organic honey is not necessarily raw as it could still have been processed and pasteurised.
According to the Soil Association, organic means working with nature. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment, which means more wildlife.
A honey producer can only get the organic badge if they are able to prove that all their bees have foraged organically i.e know every flower the bees could have possibly visited was untreated, which is a nearly impossible thing to do.
It is particularly difficult to buy certified organic honey sourced entirely from the UK due to strict regulations on bee foraging. Hives must be located so that a four-mile radius of organic crops and/or uncultivated land can be maintained to provide a source of nectar and pollen for honey bees. Sufficient distance must also be maintained between hives and potential contamination sources, like urban centres, motorways, industrial areas, waste dumps or waste incinerators.
Benefits of Raw Honey & Pure Honey
There are many benefits of adding raw or pure honey to your diet. For instance, studies have suggested that a regular or daily dose of honey will help increase the number of antioxidants in your body.
Antioxidants are crucial in blocking free radicals responsible for diseases and weakening your immune system. This will guarantee that your body can fight back against different diseases. Apart from this, honey contains polyphenols and these are powerful enough to decrease the chance of developing heart disease or cancer.
One research paper found four tablespoons of honey per day was enough to increase the level of polyphenols within the blood. Further antioxidants present in honey may also improve enzyme activity and reduce the level of cell death. It could even help improve levels of testosterone.
Other studies have suggested that raw honey can be used to help with healing wounds and ulcers. Honey has also been used to treat patients suffering from severe burns and may reduce the size or pain of skin ulcers.
Since it doesn’t ferment in the stomach, raw honey may also be a great choice for countering issues with digestion. Two tablespoons of honey can be enough to create this impact.
It’s worth summarising the key differences between the various types of honey found in the market.
No artificial colours
No artificial flavours
No synthetic substances
Most likely processed
No additives (even if they are natural)
May be processed and filtered
No additives or processing treatment
Neither heated nor filtered
The healthiest form of honey
May contain added sugars
When purchasing honey please keep in mind the difference between raw, pure and organic honey, it is important to read and understand the information contained in the label to make an informed decision to buy pure and organic honey. We advise avoiding honey that contains “a blend of Eu / non-Eu honey” as this tends to suggest that the honey has been heavily processed and mixed. Additionally, if the honey is labelled organic but it has been pasteurised, it means that most of its nutritional benefits and medicinal compounds have been destroyed. Customers are essentially paying a premium for regular sugar syrup. Therefore, we would almost always advise purchasing unprocessed raw honey due to its nutrition density and unpasteurised state. It guarantees that you will get all the phytonutrients that will provide the most significant benefits for your health.