Benefits & Uses of Raw Honey
The Complete Guide to Consuming Raw Honey
Raw honey has become increasingly popular in recent years--but what is it, exactly, and how can it benefit you? Learning more about raw honey and how to use it effectively can help you better determine whether you may want to add it to your diet.
What is Raw Honey?
Raw honey is unprocessed honey that comes straight from the hive. It is not pasteurized or heated, nor does it have any added ingredients. For this reason, many people, when they select honey for their needs, will look into raw honey options. It is, however, strained to remove impurities like beeswax and dead bees, which most people do not want to encounter as they enjoy their honey.
What is the Difference Between Raw Honey and Regular Honey?
"Regular" honey--the kind that you might pick up on the shelf at your local supermarket--is usually pasteurized. In some cases, honey may go through several steps before it's placed in the bottle.
During pasteurization, any yeast found in the honey is removed, which can help extend its shelf life. The process also helps remove potential impurities from the honey, which many consumers find more appealing, as opposed to cloudy honey or honey that has obvious signs of impurities.
However, raw honey may contain more beneficial enzymes and compounds than pasteurized honey. Pasteurization may also help to remove antioxidants and pollen, both of which can, in some cases, be beneficial.
When buying honey from the supermarket, it's important to carefully read the label so that you know what's in your honey. In some cases, manufacturers may add sugar or other sweeteners in order to reduce overall costs, since pure honey can prove more expensive.
The Benefits of Raw Honey
Raw honey may offer several key benefits. It contains several vitamins and enzymes in trace amounts, which can make it a fantastic part of an overall healthy diet. Raw honey also contains a number of antioxidants, which may offer a variety of health benefits when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Raw honey may also contain small amounts of bee pollen, which has been linked to a number of potential health benefits.
The processing methods used for most commercial honey products, however, filter out those ingredients, which means that commercially processed honey may not offer the same health benefits you could expect from raw honey.
Note: It’s important to speak to a healthcare professional before trying raw honey or any other nutrition supplements, and raw honey should never be used by itself for medicinal purposes.
Is it Safe to Eat Raw Honey?
For the most part, it is safe for adults and older children to eat raw honey. However, raw honey may contain botulism spores, which may cause illness in some people. Babies or children under the age of one are particularly vulnerable and should not eat raw honey. Note, however, that commercially processed honey may also contain botulism spores, so pediatricians usually recommend that children under one not eat honey at all. When in doubt, always check with your doctor or your child’s pediatrician.
Is Raw Honey Good For You?
Raw honey can have several health benefits. Raw honey:
- Contains antioxidants
- Can help to soothe a sore throat when combined with other healthcare methods
- May help to boost immunity when combined with a healthy lifestyle
Raw honey is also considerably healthier than many processed sugars. Excess sugar consumption can, for example, increase the risk of heart disease, raise blood pressure, and increase chronic inflammation in the body. On the flipside, consuming honey instead of sugar may help decrease some of those symptoms.
How to Use Raw Honey
There are several ways you can incorporate raw honey into your diet. It makes an excellent sweetener in many of the foods that you're making already, from oatmeal to baked goods. You can also add it to many of your regular recipes:
- Stir it into a salad dressing for a sweet treat
- Add it to toast or biscuits
- Add raw honey to your tea, especially if you feel a cold coming on or have a cough
- Mix honey into your yogurt for a light, sweet flavor
- Use honey to sweeten your sweet potatoes or carrots
- Mix in a little honey to add a hint of sweetness to your smoothie
Want to use honey as a sweetener in your recipes? For each cup of sugar that a recipe calls for, use 2/3 of a cup of honey and decrease other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup, since honey is a liquid ingredient.
You may also want to lower the baking temperature by around 25 degrees Fahrenheit, since honey-based desserts may cook more quickly than sugar-based ones. You may have to experiment with your baking recipes to discover which ones honey will work best in. With some recipes, the honey will yield results similar to sugar; with others, you may need to experiment in order to achieve perfection.
It’s also good to keep in mind that honey is also an acidic ingredient. If your recipe calls for another acidic ingredient -- such as lemon, vinegar, wine, buttermilk, or yogurt -- you may want to add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the recipe to help cut the acidity and make sure you retain the flavor profile that you're looking for. You can also mix honey with another sweetener to experience the health benefits while still obtaining the flavor and texture you want from your recipes.
Shop Raw Honey at Co-op Market
At Co-op Market, we have a variety of raw honey options that you can add to your shopping cart. Experiment with a variety of honey flavors from different sources to find the one that you find best fits your taste needs, or explore our unique brands to discover the honey source that you want.