Raw Honey Benefits Vs Processed Honey
Posted: 20th August 2019
Like anything on the internet, opinions vary when it comes to the topic of raw honey, and how it bears up against the cheaper, processed honey you’ll find on supermarket shelves
We are not an authority on the topic, but we simply want to present the reasons why we can only use raw, unprocessed honey as part of a sugar free diet, which comes from a mix of scientific studies and personal experiences
There are many parts of the world where raw honey is easy and sometimes even cheap to obtain, and if that is where you are, you have our congratulations and envy. However, for many Western countries, particularly the US and the UK, it can be hard to find, and expensive once it has been found!
How is Raw, Unprocessed Honey Different to Regular Honey?
The regular honey you will find in supermarkets will have been through a number of processes - these usually involve heating, or pasteurising, watering down, and high-pressure straining and filtering. This is done to remove impurities, make it easier to pour, and maintain consistency in manufacture
Raw, unprocessed honey is basically “as it is in the hive” or as close to that as possible. This is usually labelled as “raw” honey, “unpasteurised”, “cold-extracted”, or “cold-pressed” honey. These are the terms to look for
Remember, if a product really is raw honey, a manufacturer will have these terms plastered proudly all over the packaging. Don’t be fooled by words like “natural” or “organic” - if a honey product doesn’t use the terms in the last paragraph, or the wording is a little guarded or evasive, it won’t be raw honey
Why Avoid Processed Honey?
Permaculture News makes the statement: “Processed honey is not honey at all and if you desire any kind of health benefits, you must stick to the real stuff”
Take that as you will, but there have been some note-worthy finds when it comes to scientific studies into the matter. Findings in the International Journal of Food Properties, Vol 10, Elsevier Food Chemistry, Vol 97, and a study in Membrane, Vol 29 suggest that there is a removal of minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and pollen when honey is processed
This is a problem because the minerals, antioxidants and enzymes are part of the health benefits attributed to honey, particularly gut health. And pollen is considered so good for us that it’s actually labelled a “medicine” by the Federal Ministry of Health in Germany
But there’s a bit more too:
Demand for honey in the West is high. This leads to two potential issues. One is that bees from big processed honey industries are often fed white sugar, corn syrup, or even waste sugar from sweet factories (see NSW Department for Primary Industries article “Feeding sugar to honey bees”). While there are certainly reasons for doing this, honey is produced during the digestive process of a bee, so this sugar that’s being introduced can make its way into the honey that is being released
The other issue that can arise from such high demand is importing genuine products. Healthline presents a number of studies which show that some imported honey has been found to be mixed or bulked out with sugar or other things like high fructose corn syrup
With so much demand, processing, and import, it’s easy to see how sugar is finding its way into these jars of processed honey stocking the shelves
The main reasons for cutting out processed sugar are very varied. For a many it is a health issue. Processed sugar starts a reaction which will cause them to feel very ill, even when they are unaware that processed sugar has been in the food that they’ve eaten - the reaction itself is usually the tell-tale sign
The interesting thing is that, while enjoying genuinely raw honey causes no adverse reactions whatsoever, even when used in baking, eating processed honey from the supermarket causes just the same reaction as eating processed sugar
Alongside the studies above, these experiences convince us to try to avoid processed honey and to use only raw, unprocessed honey in our recipes
What We Use
For those in Western countries, raw honey does not come cheap. However, it is well worth researching different products. When used well, and in reasonable moderation, it can be a real lifesaver for those on a sugar free diet
In terms of quality, trustworthiness, and reasonable pricing, we tend to use honey labelled as raw honey with no sugar feeding. This can be found in many stores, or you can buy online with eBay
However, we’d love to hear from you on this. Do you know of any good quality, reasonably priced raw honey that the community could find online, or in your local area?