Honey, remember to buy some honey, please!
Off to the store you go, and you suddenly find yourself staring at the honey shelf with absolutely no idea which honey to choose! You're in a rush and got no time to fine comb labels.
With many honey varieties available at the local grocery store and online, how do you choose the best type of honey that will offer all the health benefits?
How do you avoid another sugar source with empty calories and zero nutrients? After all, there's a reason we choose honey over sugar - its beneficial properties.
Allow us to explain the differences and how to choose the healthiest honey for your family! Bee-cause we care!
The Problem With Regular Honey
Unfortunately, many of the honey products we find in the stores are highly processed fake honey. Fake honey often consists of only one-third raw honey. It is usually mixed with water and sugar syrups like cane, corn, or rice sugar.
Food Safety News decided to test honey sold all over the U.S, so they analyzed 60 jugs, jars, and plastic bears of honey from 10 different states. The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University, and melissopalynologists (investigators of pollen in honey). Among all the containers of honey provided, 76 percent or more had the pollen removed.
Many "commercial" honey has been pasteurized (a process where high heat is applied) to extend its shelf life and helps to keep it in liquid form. Another undesired step is filtration of the honey to remove all the air bubbles giving it a cleaner, smoother, and more appealing consistency.
But, pasteurization and filtration counteract all the goodness we wish to get from honey.
These processes remove many of the phytonutrients that give honey its healthy rep. They also destroys almost all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties you would have found in raw honey straight from the beehive. In some cases, honey is filtered so much that no pollen is present anymore.
As The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states, honey that has been ultra-filtered is not really honey, and the medical advantages of honey can't be expected. Unfortunately, the FDA does not conduct quality or control checks on honey sold in the U.S to see if it contains any pollen.
So if you desire any health benefits from honey, it is time to get to know the different types of honey and make informed choices for your family.
Different Types of Honey - Raw, Pure, Organic, Unpasteurized, Unfiltered, and Regular
Don't let all the words and jargon confuse you! Once you know the different terms, you will know how to choose honey the next time you go shopping.
Raw honey comes directly from the beehives, which the bees produce from the nectar of flowers and is placed in packaging or eaten as is.
It is unheated, unprocessed, and unpasteurized. It may contain chunks of wax, dead bees, and rough pollen particles. The rawest form of honey you can eat is honeycomb.
Pure honey is still 100% raw honey but is taken from the beehives and gently strained by spreading it over a nylon cloth to remove nasties such as dirt, chunks, and dead bugs. Unheated or unfiltered honey is entirely natural, retaining all the enzymes, nutrients, and medicinal compounds beneficial for our health.
Pure honey is also not mixed with synthetic sugars like corn or cane sugar and does not contain added coloring or preservatives.
To be classified as organic, honey producers need to prove that their bees only foraged organically and follow organic practices and standards.
Hives must be treated organically, and the flowers cannot be sprayed with pesticides. Organic honey can be strained and may not be heated above 95 degrees F.
Honey labeled as organic is also not necessarily raw and can be filtered and pasteurized. Yes, there is honey that can be both raw and organic, but you should not assume honey is raw because it is organic.
To prove honey is organic is a challenging task as bees can fly within a 9-mile radius. Farmers can seldom guarantee that their bees have not flown off to the neighbors where pesticides are used.
When honey is filtered, tiny particles are removed, even as small as the pollen. It is also often heat-treated to change to a liquid state and thus no longer raw.
Unfiltered honey is not necessarily raw, but it will be closer to the natural state, preserving all the good for you properties. When possible, it is best to choose a product labeled raw and unfiltered.
Regular honey is the kind you want to avoid (and, most times, the cheapest!).
Regular honey goes through pasteurization and filtration, removing all the characteristics that make honey so remarkable. The bees may have visited pesticide-treated crops, been treated with antibiotics, and gotten winter nourishment with sugar or low-cost syrup.
It essentially becomes just another sugar-ridden item in our pantries with no beneficial properties.
How to Choose the Best Types of Honey
It can be hard to tell the difference between types of honey or make a choice when labels are vague. Here are a few things to look out for to make the right choice:
Look at the label
Look for the words' unpasteurized, 'unfiltered,' 'raw,' 'organic,' or 'true source certified.'
Consider the price
If the price looks too cheap, it probably is cheap honey. More expensive honey reflects the time and care that went into producing the honey.
Evaluate the consistency
A cloudy, opaque, or cream-colored honey is often a sign that the honey is more in its raw state. But, that's not to mean the honey is not pure or unfiltered; it is simply a guideline.
Do the spread test
Pour honey on your thumb - If it spreads right away or drips, it's not pure, and if it stays intact, it's pure.
Do the water test
Add a tablespoon of honey to a glass of water - if the honey forms a lump and settles at the bottom it is pure. If it dissolves, it is artificial honey.
Observe the shelf life
Pure honey will start to crystallize over time, whereas fake honey will remain in a liquid state like syrup.
These are general guidelines to help you choose but not set in stone, and may differ from supplier to supplier.
So What Type of Honey is the Best?
At the end of the day, the most natural, raw state of honey is the best for our health if we want to reap all the fantastic benefits.
Not only is it better for you, but also for the bees and the environment as you are supporting sustainable bee and honey farming.
Unfortunately, there are no strict regulations and requirements for labeling, so the best you can do is choose honey in its most natural state that is pure, organic, and unfiltered.
You can also research the source or honey producer for more info on their honey-making practices. Lastly, look for small, artisanal honey producers at farmers' markets, natural food shops, or trusted online shops like Country Life Natural Foods.
At Country Life Natural Foods, we are serious about selling only natural foods from our network of trusted producers. We selectively choose only the best products for our customers with the utmost highest standards.
The honey we sell is pure, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and tastes fantastic.
We bee-lieve in goodness and natural, just like mother nature intended it to bee!