The health benefits of Manuka honey
I remember as a child going to ‘the honey house’ with Mum (a house on the outskirts of Christchurch that sold honey from the garage) to buy a huge jar of fresh honey for on our toast in the mornings. The aroma, the creaminess, the golden colour…. little did we know that we had some pretty special honeys in New Zealand, with some pretty amazing health benefits too.
All honey is good for you. It contains simple sugars, which are not the same as white sugar or artificial sweeteners. It has a healthy Glycemic index, meaning it won’t jolt your blood sugar levels through the roof. In fact the exact combination of fructose and glucose in honey actually helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. Being a natural liquid made from honey bees, it’s a superior sweetener to any processed version. It contains vitamins such as B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and certain amino acids and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. It builds immunity, energises, and aids anti-aging.
Raw Manuka honey, made by bees that pollinate the flowers of the manuka bush in New Zealand, has some amazing health properties. And it’s a pretty special process, with the manuka bush only flowering once a year for 2-6 weeks, often in remote locations. The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) is a quality trademark and grading system identifying natural unadulterated manuka honey that has a special unique property found only in some strains of manuka honey. The UMF grading system assures purity and quality (although proving organic status is harder to determine, since it is difficult to know exactly where bees have been).
Manuka honey contains methylglyoxal, an antibacterial compound, in much higher levels to other honey. It is this high level of methylglyoxal that makes it great for skin, acne, eczema and burns, as well as IBS, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, acid reflux, sore throats and allergies. It has anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-cancer properties. It treats plague and gingivitis. It can be used to treat wounds, and is a powerful topical treatment for antibiotic resistant infections.
How to get your honey fix!
There are so many simple ways to add honey to your daily eating….
Use it interchangeably with golden syrup or maple syrup; on pancakes, in bliss balls and other raw treats and slices, in nut granolas.
Add it to your smoothie.
Drizzle it on grilled fruit such as nectarines and peaches. Drizzle it over sliced, grilled citrus such as blood orange and grapefruit.
Simply use it in a salad dressing; try olive oil with a drizzle of honey and balsamic vinegar (shake it all up in a jar and pour over your salad).
Use it in meat and poultry glazes and marinades.
Add ½ tsp to your green tea, or sweeten any tea with it.
Lemon and honey make a great weight loss combination; add both to a glass of warm water first thing in the morning.
Try one of my favourite quick snacks with honey….
Toast with butter, honey and a slice of cheese.
Toast with honey, mashed banana, cinnamon and pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
Use it to beautify….
Apply it directly as a face mask (half honey and half coconut oil works well). Massage it into your skin, leave on for 5 minutes and rinse off.
Use it in a DIY hair mask (add honey to water and apply to hair as you would a conditioning treatment).
Soak in a bath with ¼ cup honey, 2 cups milk and an essential oil of your choosing…. come out with soft and luscious skin.
Add it to salt and exfoliate all over.
It seems that buying the right honey can tick many boxes in the health and well-being stakes. Whether you slather it on toast or on your skin, you will be seeing and feeling the benefits. As with absolutely everything, you need to opt for a good version of the product to reap the rewards…. don’t buy manuka honey with anything less than a 10+ UMF, but preferably with a 15+ or 20+ UMF.