Raw honey contains numerous ancient health benefits that have been proven by modern science, but the honey you find at the grocery store isn’t the same thing at all. Here are 5 healthy reasons to consider switching to raw honey…
Humans have been enjoying honey for thousands of years, but it isn’t only the sweet taste that attracts us. Real, raw honey contains some potent health-giving properties. According to this article, “honey is composed of roughly 200 substances such as amino acids, flavonoids, minerals, and enzymes.”
However, the honey you buy at the grocery store today is a far cry from the honey that our ancestors enjoyed, and it may be not much better for us than a jar of sugar syrup. You see, most honey that you find on store shelves is pasteurized, supposedly for safety and to kill bacteria. But what makes this honey “safer” also destroys any health properties the honey originally contained, leaving behind what is basically a nutrient-devoid sugar syrup.
If you want to enjoy the health benefits of honey, you have to get the real stuff – and that means non-pasteurized, raw honey. (If you are concerned about safety, keep in mind that one of the most important health benefits of honey is that it is naturally antibacterial (see below), meaning it is actually a naturally safe substance! However, honey should not be given to babies under 1 year old.)
Here are 5 health benefits of raw honey:
1. Raw Honey Is Antiviral, Antifungal and Antibacterial
The use of honey as a disinfectant and antibacterial has resurfaced in recent years, with science confirming what the ancients apparently knew when they slathered the sweet substance on wounds. They may not have been aware that microbes were the cause of infection at the time; they simply knew that honey prevented it.
Now research has found that raw, untreated honey indeed acts as a potent antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral, even in the face of “superbugs” such as those found in staph (MRSA) infections (3). In fact, scientists have discovered that “regular,” raw honey (not including other types like Manuka – a potent medicinal honey) acts as a broad-spectrum antibacterial against 60 species of bacteria (4).
There are several compounds in raw honey that are responsible for its sanitizing effects (namely glucose oxidase, which, when combined with water, produces hydrogen peroxide). Unfortunately, glucose oxidase is a heat-sensitive enzyme, meaning pasteurization can impair its ability to produce hydrogen peroxide (5).
In addition to protecting against infections, raw honey has also been shown to heal already infected wounds that are resistant to conventional antibiotic therapies (6).
2. Raw Honey Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Although honey is extremely rich in natural sugars, it has been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. Even researchers were startled by the finding, stating in one study, “… honey is sweet and rich in sugars and it would not have been expected to exert a dose-dependent hypoglycemic effect.” (7).
The evidence is especially striking in diabetics, where honey is found to decrease serum glucose levels, increase serum insulin levels, and “… ameliorate(s) several metabolic derangements commonly observed in diabetes.” (8). In other words, raw honey has a stabilizing effect on sugar metabolism in diabetics – despite its high sugar content.
3. Raw Honey Is Rich in Enzymes and Promotes Digestive Health
Enzymes are extremely important for keeping our body functioning at an optimum level. Researchers have discovered over 3,000 enzymes responsible for every major biochemical reaction in the body, including, but not limited to: driving nutrients into cells, absorbing oxygen, producing energy, breaking down fats and carbohydrates, and regulating hormones (9).
Raw honey contains a host of these beneficial enzymes, which have been shown to play a special role in promoting digestive health. For instance, several studies have shown raw honey to be effective against stomach ulcers and also help repair damaged intestinal mucosa (10).
In addition to these enzymes, raw honey also contains 4 to 5% fructooligosaccharides, which act as probiotics, and have been shown in studies to increase levels of beneficial bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the colon (11, 12).
Need another reason to go raw? The enzyme levels in raw honey drop an average of 35 percent (with some enzymes such as invertase being almost completely eliminated) due to pasteurization (13).
4. Raw Honey Is Anti-Inflammatory
The enzymes in raw honey that we spoke of earlier also have anti-inflammatory properties. Its anti-inflammatory effects have been studied in a variety of situations, ranging from topical wounds to intestinal inflammation (14).
For instance, studies have shown raw honey to be effective in treating eczema and psoriasis, as well as being as effective as prescription medication in the treatment of colitis (15).
5. Raw Honey Boosts Immunity
According to studies on raw honey’s effect on cancer, researchers have concluded that it has the ability to act as a natural immune booster (not to mention as a natural “cancer vaccine”) (16). Aside from boosting the body’s production of antibodies to help fight disease, honey also contains potent antioxidants that play a role in supporting the immune system (17).
Note: be sure any honey you’re purchasing plainly states “raw” or “unpasteurized,” as the terms “natural” and “all-natural” do not mean it’s raw…