If you're like most people, you probably haven't given much thought to that honey bear bottle you picked up at the supermarket. Sure, it looks cute, but chances are the amber-yellow liquid it contains isn't raw honey. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it's probably not even honey at all.
The FDA requires that honey actually have pollen in it in order for it to be classified as honey. But this isn't actually the case with a lot of varieties you'll find at the grocery store. In fact, most honey has had its pollen removed in a purification process that also strips the stuff of the beneficial enzymes, polyphenols, and phytonutrients.
What Makes Raw Local Honey Different?
Raw honey has not been pasteurized, heated, or ultra-filtered—all things that occur to most conventional honey products. The biggest downside? Eating the processed version means you're likely missing out on the following health benefits:
- Antioxidants. The antioxidant activity of raw honey has been attributed to several different compounds found within the honey itself. Those antioxidants are protected when the honey remains unprocessed. But studies have shown that once you heat it up, the antioxidant content is reduced.
- Minerals. Raw local honey contains trace minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, and zinc. Processed honey? Not so much.
- Enzymes and amino acids. Fun fact: Raw honey contains more than 5,000 enzymes, including amylase, proline, and invertase. Not to mention it also has dozens of different amino acids, which is particularly important as the human body is unable to naturally produce nine essential amino acids. We need to get them through food.
- Vitamins. Raw honey has is loaded with good-for-you vitamins, including vitamin A, all the B vitamins, C, D, and E.
Bonus: When you buy raw honey from a local vendor, that means it's coming from local pollen that could help protect you from allergens right in your area.
Other Benefits of Raw Honey
As if nutrition benefits weren't enough, eating raw honey can also help with the following:
- Preventing acne. Raw honey contains a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, which has been shown to be safer and more effective than benzoyl peroxide when treating acne. Since honey is antibacterial and contains antioxidants, research shows it can help clear up bacteria on your skin that can cause acne.
- Soothing your throat. Raw honey been shown to be more effective than cough medicines when it comes to an irritated throat. Try taking a spoonful of raw local honey if you'd rather skip the cold medicine.
- Anti-aging. Since raw honey contains more antioxidants, it can help combat the damage associated with free radicals to protect your body from premature cell aging, especially in the skin.
- Energy. Raw honey provides a healthier form of energy than sugar, as it has a lower glycemic index and won't spike your blood sugar. Case in point: Honey can have a glycemic index as low as 32, depending on the source, which is less than half the index of white sugar, which clocks in at 68.
- Eczema. The anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties found in the stuff can help soothe eczema, making it a great base for a skin mask.
- Healthy heart. Research shows that the polyphenol content in honey may have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease. Keep in mind, though, that once honey is processed the polyphenols are removed. So it's extra important to go raw to net this benefit.
- Allergy relief. Some research shows that since raw local honey contains local pollen, eating small amounts of this pollen—such as the amounts found in raw honey—can actually help provide your body with a natural "vaccine" and help build up your immunity to these allergens.
Where to Find Raw Local Honey
You can generally get raw local honey at health food stores or from a local beekeeper. While "local" means different things to different people, a general guideline is within your state or less than 100 miles away.