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Is Organic Honey Always Raw?

You’re a health-conscious shopper wandering the halls of your local market. On the lookout for nutritious products to stock your pantry, you are sure to notice the deluge of buzzwords on packaging. “Natural”, “Healthy”, “Organic”, “Raw”, and more, pop out from every corner of every aisle. But what do they all mean? Is organic always healthy? Is healthy always raw? Is natural always organic? Sorting out the meaningful from the marketing can be a challenge for even the most savvy shopper.

“Is organic honey the same as raw honey?” is a common question that our Sleeping Bear customer service team often hears. The lack of clear definition of both terms makes it difficult for the consumer to differentiate between them. Today we’re going to help clear the air with a look at the real definition of organic honey and raw honey.

Raw Honey

Raw honey is just that – raw. At the most basic level, “Raw Honey” is honey that has not been heated past the point of pasteurization. Bees keep their hives around the 95 degree mark while making honey, and raw honey is not heated beyond this point during the extraction or bottling process. By not heating the honey, it retains all the natural enzymes and properties it has in the hive.

Organic Honey

Organic honey is a different ball of (bees)wax. Honey is organic when the flowers that the bees use to produce the honey have not been treated with chemicals. The term organic honey has nothing to do with the production process of the honey. A hive can produce organic honey, but the extracted honey can be heated, filtered, and processed – and therefore not raw. Or, you can harvest the raw honey.

Raw vs Organic Honey

Therefore, not all organic honey is raw honey, and not all raw honey is necessarily organic. Organic honey is a tricky subject. Bees can travel miles to pollinate flowers. In order to be truly organic, one must know that every flower the bees could have possibly visited was untreated. At Sleeping Bear Farms, we do not label our raw honey as organic. The reality is that we cannot be 100% sure that every flower a bee visits has not been treated in some way, and therefore we don’t want to mislead anyone. So while we don’t treat the flowers, we can’t be sure that someone in the area hasn’t and wouldn’t want to mislead anyone with our advertising. You can, however, be completely sure that our honey is truly raw.
Organic code
Pure honey

SUMMARYHoney is thick, sweet liquid made by honeybees. It is low in vitamins and minerals but may be high in some plant compounds.

2. High-Quality Honey Is Rich in Antioxidants

High-quality honey contains many important antioxidants. These include organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids (5Trusted Source).

Scientists believe that the combination of these compounds gives honey its antioxidant power (5Trusted Source).

Interestingly, two studies have shown that buckwheat honey increases the antioxidant value of your blood (6Trusted Source7Trusted Source).

Antioxidants have been linked to reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancer. They may also promote eye health (8Trusted Source).

SUMMARYHoney contains a number of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds like flavonoids.

3. Honey Is “Less Bad” Than Sugar for Diabetics

The evidence on honey and diabetes is mixed.

On one hand, it can reduce several risk factors for heart disease common in people with type 2 diabetes.

For example, it may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammation while raising “good” HDL cholesterol (9Trusted Source10Trusted Source11Trusted Source).

However, some studies have found that it can also increase blood sugar levels — just not as much as refined sugar (10Trusted Source).

While honey may be slightly better than refined sugar for people with diabetes, it should still be consumed with caution.

In fact, people with diabetes may do best by minimizing all high-carb foods (12Trusted Source).

Keep in mind, too, that certain types of honey may be adulterated with plain syrup. Although honey adulteration is illegal in most countries, it remains a widespread problem (13Trusted Source).

SUMMARYSome studies show that honey improves heart disease risk factors in people with diabetes. However, it also raises blood sugar levels — so it cannot be considered healthy for people with diabetes.

4. The Antioxidants in It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is an important risk factor for heart disease, and honey may help lower it.

This is because it contains antioxidant compounds that have been linked to lower blood pressure (14Trusted Source).

Studies in both rats and humans have shown modest reductions in blood pressure from consuming honey (15Trusted Source16Trusted Source).

SUMMARYEating honey may lead to modest reductions in blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease.

5. Honey Also Helps Improve Cholesterol

High LDL cholesterol levels is a strong risk factor for heart disease.

This type of cholesterol plays a major role in atherosclerosis, the fatty buildup in your arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Interestingly, several studies show that honey may improve your cholesterol levels.

It reduces total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while significantly raising “good” HDL cholesterol (9Trusted Source10Trusted Source11Trusted Source17Trusted Source).

For example, one study in 55 patients compared honey to table sugar and found that honey caused a 5.8% reduction in LDL and a 3.3% increase in HDL cholesterol. It also led to modest weight loss of 1.3% (18Trusted Source).

SUMMARYHoney seems to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. It leads to modest reductions in total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.

6. Honey Can Lower Triglycerides

Elevated blood triglycerides are another risk factor for heart disease.

They are also associated with insulin resistance, a major driver of type 2 diabetes.

Triglyceride levels tend to increase on a diet high in sugar and refined carbs.

Interestingly, multiple studies have linked regular honey consumption with lower triglyceride levels, especially when it is used to replace sugar (9Trusted Source10Trusted Source11Trusted Source17Trusted Source).

For example, one study comparing honey and sugar found 11–19% lower triglyceride levels in the honey group (18Trusted Source).

SUMMARYElevated triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Several studies show that honey can lower triglyceride levels, especially when used as a sugar substitute.

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7. The Antioxidants in It Are Linked to Other Beneficial Effects on Heart Health

Again, honey is a rich source of phenols and other antioxidant compounds. Many of these have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (8Trusted Source).

They may help the arteries in your heart dilate, increasing blood flow to your heart. They may also help prevent blood clot formation, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes (8Trusted Source).

Furthermore, one study in rats showed that honey protected the heart from oxidative stress (19Trusted Source).

All told, there is no long-term human study available on honey and heart health. Take these results with a grain of salt.

SUMMARYThe antioxidants in honey have been linked to beneficial effects on heart health, including increased blood flow to your heart and a reduced risk of blood clot formation.

8. Honey Promotes Burn and Wound Healing

Topical honey treatment has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt and is still common today.

A review of 26 studies on honey and wound care found honey most effective at healing partial-thickness burns and wounds that have become infected after surgery (20Trusted Source).

Honey is also an effective treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, which are serious complications that can lead to amputation (21Trusted Source22Trusted Source).

One study reported a 43.3% success rate with honey as a wound treatment. In another study, topical honey healed a whopping 97% of patients’ diabetic ulcers (22Trusted Source23Trusted Source).

Researchers believe that honey’s healing powers come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects as well as its ability to nourish surrounding tissue (24Trusted Source).

What’s more, it can help treat other skin conditions, including psoriasis and herpes lesions (25Trusted Source27Trusted Source).

Manuka honey is considered especially effective for treating burn wounds (28Trusted Source).

SUMMARYWhen applied to the skin, honey can be part of an effective treatment plan for burns, wounds and many other skin conditions. It is particularly effective for diabetic foot ulcers.

9. Honey Can Help Suppress Coughs in Children

Coughing is a common problem for children with upper respiratory infections.

These infections can affect sleep and quality of life for both children and parents.

However, mainstream medications for cough are not always effective and can have side effects. Interestingly, honey may be a better choice, and evidence indicates it is very effective (28Trusted Source29Trusted Source).

One study found that honey worked better than two common cough medications (30Trusted Source).

Another study found that it reduced cough symptoms and improved sleep more than cough medication (29Trusted Source).

Nevertheless, honey should never be given to children under one year of age due to the risk for botulism (31Trusted Source).

SUMMARYFor children over one year of age, honey can act as a natural and safe cough suppressant. Some studies show that it is even more effective than cough medicine.

10. It’s Delicious, But Still High in Calories and Sugar

Honey is a delicious, healthier alternative to sugar.

Make sure to choose a high-quality brand, because some lower-quality ones may be mixed with syrup.

Keep in mind that honey should only be consumed in moderation, as it is still high in calories and sugar.

The benefits of honey are most pronounced when it is replacing another, unhealthier sweetener.

At the end of the day, honey is simply a “less bad” sweetener than sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

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Written by Kris Gunnars, BSc on September 5, 2018


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