WHAT IS MANUKA HONEY?
Manuka honey is a special type of honey with a unique sweet taste, recognized for its remarkable natural qualities and antibacterial properties.
Rightly considered as liquid gold, this honey has been used to treat multiple conditions since ancient times. Advocates say it’s more powerful than traditional antibiotics in some cases.
Thus, with the rise of health-conscious consumers, the demand for superfoods such as organic Manuka honey is also increasing. In fact, due to the growing demand, it is now one of the most expensive honeys in the world.
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WHERE DOES MANUKA HONEY COME FROM? HOW IS IT MADE?
This rare honey is made from the Manuka plant native to New Zealand and Australia.
The most powerful Manuka honey comes from very remote coastal areas of New Zealand where the New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium) and its blossoms are ample.
During the season, professional beekeepers work tirelessly to place beehives in challenging, remote locations. Honeybees then collect the nectar of the Manuka flower and convert it into precious Manuka honey.
However, the process of making Manuka honey is not just as simple. This magical elixir can only be made during a few weeks a year when the Manuka plant is in bloom. The beekeepers have to be very careful with the location and timing of beehives placement for the bees to gather the nectar successfully.
Also, production requires close supervision and careful handling from harvesting to extraction, testing, and packaging.
The weather, harvesting area, temperature, and storage all play an important role in producing the highest quality Manuka honey.
THE NUTRITIONAL PROFILE OF MANUKA HONEY
Manuka honey is high in sugar like traditional honey, but this simple sugar content has nutritional advantages that make absorption of energy much easier.
Manuka honey also contains a small amount of fat, fiber, protein, and negligible salt content.
Most importantly, it is rich in amino acids, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, and zinc.
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WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MANUKA HONEY AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET?
Monofloral & Multifloral Manuka Honey
There are two major types of Manuka honey:
- monofloral Manuka
- multifloral Manuka
The major difference between these two types is purity.
Monofloral Manuka is honey that is harvested by bees only from Manuka flower nectar.
Multifloral Manuka is honey that is harvested mainly from Manuka flower nectar, but will also contain nectar from other flowers.
Studies have shown that monofloral Manuka contains much higher levels of active compounds than multifloral Manuka.
So, if you are searching for the purest form of Manuka honey and want to enjoy its maximum benefits, choose the monofloral. Otherwise, multifloral Manuka remains a good option at a more affordable price point, offering a unique taste and smooth texture.
MGO / UMF / KFactor Ratings
Furthermore, Manuka honey also comes with several ratings such as MGO, UMF or KFactor which measure its potency and other key characteristics.
Perhaps the most recognized grading system is UMF (Unique Manuka Factor), which was developed by the UMF Honey Association in New Zealand. It is awarded to licensed beekeepers, producers, and exporters of genuine Manuka honey as a quality trademark.
UMF tracks key signature markers: Methyglyoxal, Leptosperin, DHA as well as HMF.
The final UMF rating is based on all of the chemicals combined. Here are some examples of UMF potencies:
|Certified Authentic, Everyday||UMF 5+ to UMF 9+|
|Premium Grade||UMF 10+ to UMF 15+|
|Ultra Premium Grade||UMF 15+ to UMF 20+
|Superior Rare High Grade||UMF 24+|
According to experts, UMF10+ and MGO263+ or higher is considered the most beneficial and therapeutic for our health.
UMF also certifies that the following requirements are being met:
produced, packed and labelled in New Zealand: Manuka honey cannot be imported into New Zealand.
tested & audited: after Manuka honey has been packed, it must undergo a number of tests to identify its source and purity. UMF Manuka Honey is also regularly audited so you can be sure you are getting real Manuka honey with the correct UMF number.
authenticity: the official UMF certificate is issued once Manuka honey has successfully passed all test criteria.
MGO stands for methylglyoxal, the "magic ingredient" that makes Manuka honey so special, according to Manuka Healthy.
The MGO grading system was developed by Professor Thomas Henle (University of Dresden) in 2008, in order to help customers know how much methylglyoxal is present in each jar of honey. The higher the rating, the more MGO available.
Here’s a comparison between different levels of MGO and UMF:
|MGO 83+||UMF 5+|
|MGO 100+||UMF 6+|
|MGO 250+||UMF 10+|
|MGO 400+||UMF 13+|
KFactor is a marketing term used by the company Wedderspoon.
The KFactor standard verifies the following requirements are being met:
- raw and unpasteurized honey
- free of glyphosate, pesticides and antibiotics
- traceable from hive to home
- made in New Zealand
KFactor 16 is a monofloral honey made from the Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka) plant.
KFactor 12 is a less desirable multifloral Manuka, that is more of a "blend" of Manuka and other floral types.
Final comparison chart across different grade levels:
|Very high antibacterial activity. Superior healing properties.||15-20+||514-829+
|High antibacterial activity. Good healing properties.||10-15+||263-514+
|Medium level activity. Suitable for maintaining good health.||5-10+||83-263+||8-14|
|Low level activity. Comparable to normal honey.||0-5+
Raw vs. pasteurized
Professional beekeepers suggest that Manuka honey should preferably be used in raw form for health and beauty routines. When pure honey is highly processed or pasteurized, it loses all its valuable nutrients, including vitamins and live enzymes.
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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MANUKA HONEY?
At this point, the question may arise: "Does Manuka honey actually work?".
Unlike many other alternative treatments, the efficacy of Manuka honey is backed by scientific research. Indeed, various studies over the years have established that Manuka honey with higher methylglyoxal (MGO) concentration offers tremendous health benefits. Also, the vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional content help with several health conditions, as described below.
Significant health benefits of Manuka honey include:
- Heals wounds and burns
For centuries, Manuka honey has been used as a natural medicine in treating wounds, cuts, burns, and skin ulcers. It offers antibacterial and antioxidant properties that can decrease inflammation and prevent microbial infections. Research suggests that a high amount of methylglyoxal and hydrogen peroxide effectively reduces the growth of bacteria in the wounded area and speeds up the healing process. Another study observed that Manuka honey accelerates the regeneration of tissue and gradually decreases burning pain in patients.
- Improves digestion
If Manuka honey is consumed on a regular basis, it improves gut health by killing harmful bacteria and pathogens. If you are experiencing sudden digestive distress, try drinking a teaspoonful of Manuka honey diluted in a glass of warm water for relief.
- Improves skin health and treats acne
Manuka honey is a natural moisturizer and a go-to skin soother that works magically on several skin conditions. Nowadays, Manuka honey is used as an active ingredient in a wide range of beauty products. With its antibacterial anti-inflammatory compounds, Manuka honey reduces the growth and spread of acne on the skin. It also helps to expedite the healing process of acne.
- Promotes oral health
Manuka honey is recognized for improving oral hygiene and dental health. According to a 2014 study, regular consumption of Manuka honey prevents the growth of harmful bacteria associated with gingivitis, plaque formation, and tooth decay.
- Soothes colds and sore throats
As manuka honey helps improve oral health, it provides relief from a sore throat as well thanks to its antibacterial properties. Indeed, manuka honey attacks harmful bacteria and provides relief from cold and flu symptoms.
- May prevent stomach ulcers
Gastric ulcers are now a common problem worldwide with no permanent solution. Instead of downing a number of anti-inflammatory drugs, it is often better to try some natural remedies. According to a recent study, pure manuka honey with high MGO content may help treat alcohol-induced stomach ulcers.
- Prevents urinary tract infections (UTIs) caused by catheters
A new laboratory research at the University of Southampton confirmed that Manuka honey can help avoid the development of urinary tract infections caused by long-term catheter use. It is also said that flushing a diluted manuka honey solution through the catheter will keep it clean and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria in the bladder.
- And more...
Besides these surprising Manuka honey benefits, it serves several other purposes.
A few drops can easily be mixed with other beauty ingredients and used as a face mask to boost skin elasticity and collagen production.
Also, manuka honey is known to provide an instant burst of energy and it can help during labor when added to hot water.
As described above, the potent nutritional components present in manuka honey make this golden liquid a potent ally in various situations thanks to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
HOW MUCH TO CONSUME PER DAY?
When it comes to consuming Manuka honey, there are no specific rules. We suggest starting with two teaspoons (15g) per day, which should be plenty to start enjoying the impressive health benefits of Manuka honey.
According to some fitness enthusiasts, consuming as little as 1 teaspoon of raw Manuka honey with a third of a glass of water early in the morning works as a tremendous health support.
You can easily include Manuka honey in your diet by mixing it with oats, yogurts, porridge, herbal tea, or detox drinks. Breakfast toasts are also excellent!
ARE THERE ANY RISKS OR SIDE EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH MANUKA HONEY?
Manuka honey certainly offers a wide range of impressive health benefits, but similar to other honeys, it is still high in sugar.
If you have diabetes, it is better to talk to your doctor about including Manuka honey in your diet.
Even though Manuka honey is considered safe to consume for most people, there are a few risk factors that you should be aware of:
- risk of allergic reaction especially for those who are allergic to bees
- rise in blood sugar level
- potential risk of infant botulism: concerns have been expressed around the safety of using honey in infants (less than 1 year old). This is due to the possible presence of Clostridium botulinum spores, the bacteria responsible for an extremely rare condition in little ones: infant botulism. This illness typically affects babies between 3 weeks and 6 months old as they lack the gut microflora which controls the replication of the bacteria after ingestion of the spores.
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WHY IS MANUKA HONEY SO EXPENSIVE?
Unlike other traditional honeys, Manuka honey is fairly expensive. The main reason behind it comes down to scarcity.
Manuka flowers grow in the remote hills and forests of New Zealand. Beekeepers have to work tirelessly to grow and protect the flowers. In fact, professional beekeepers sometimes even fly to remote areas to find Manuka bushes and move beehives using helicopters.
Moreover, Manuka flowers have a very short blooming window of 2-6 weeks in the entire year.
Another interesting fact is that it takes almost 22,700 individual bee trips around Manuka flowers to collect enough nectar to produce a 500 gram jar of Manuka honey! To give you some perspective: according to beekeepers, one bee only collects ⅕ teaspoon of honey in their entire lifespan.
So, there is a lot of work involved in Manuka honey production for the bees, beekeepers, researchers, testers, and laborers, which makes it so precious and expensive.
OUR SELECTION OF THE 5 BEST MANUKA HONEYS
Now that you know all the benefits of Manuka honey, you might be interested to try this magical elixir.
Well, because of it being so valuable, there are some honey frauds that unfortunately appeared in the market. So you need to do your selection carefully to make sure you are getting the real thing. We recommend sticking to popular brands and checking both the MGO and UMF ratings on the label.
Here are the 5 best Manuka honey brands from which you can get authentic Manuka honey at your doorstep:
The uniqueness of manuka honey from Manuka Health is that it combines nature with science. Manuka health’s 100% pure manuka honey is known for having a specific amount of active ingredient in it. Every single jar is marketed after comprehensive laboratory testing to keep the taste and potency intact. Other grades available: from MGO 30+ to MGO 550+.
Kiva’s authentic manuka honey comes with the UMF certification. If you are looking for the best manuka honey with therapeutic qualities, this one might be the right choice for you. Each jar of Kiva raw manuka honey contains fresh honey directly sourced from New Zealand, independently tested and high in both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Other grades available: from UMF 10+ to UMF 20+.
New Zealand Honey Co. Raw Manuka Honey is one of the most reliable New Zealand manuka honey that comes with both UMF and MGO ratings. If you are a fan of the highest quality manuka honey and prioritize the potency over anything, you can choose this one with confidence. This company collects its honey from the remote mountainous locations of New Zealand, and then tests and certifies each batch to ensure quality and authenticity. Other grades available: from UMF 5+ to UMF 26+.
At a more premium price point, Manukora UMF 20+/MGO 830+ manuka honey is extremely rare. It is seasonally dependent and sourced from a small selection of remote locations that deliver the purest manuka honey. Manukora is a licensed UMF Association member, the only independent organization that verifies the purity and quality of Mānuka honey products. The company operates an industry-leading traceability system which allows customers to trace their product from hive to hand. Other grades available: from MGO 50+ to MGO 830+.
Steens Raw Monofloral Manuka Honey is an excellent monofloral manuka honey at a great price. It is independently verified by the official UMF Association for purity, potency, and quality. The Steens family has owned and operated the manuka business for over 40 years. A really nice service offered is that you can trace your honey on the company’s website. Other grades available: from UMF 5+ to UMF24+.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Manuka honey is a unique type of honey, with incomparable taste and healing benefits that make it superior to other traditional varieties of honey.
Nowadays, while still considered an exclusive product, manuka honey is widely available online and in health food stores.
However, it is important to choose genuine brands that offer the authentic product to enjoy the actual benefits of manuka honey. It is advised to follow standard grading scales (UMF, MGO) while purchasing manuka honey.
The information provided in this article is not nutritional or medical advice. Please read our disclaimer.