Natural raw honey is the sweet food formed by the bees in their hives using the concentrated nectar of the flowers, which they collect in their mouth. This, the bees do by mixing their enzymes with the nectar of the flowers. The honey is then stored in their hives.
Raw honey is honey, which is taken from the beehive and which has not been processed – that is, not heated nor pasteurized nor filtered. Know what it contains, why raw honey should be preferred and know why and how it can be dangerous.
Appearance of raw unfiltered honey
Honey is a rich golden colored viscous liquid that:
- Contains fine crystals,
- is slightly turbid,
- may contain bee pollen,
- may contain parts of bee wings,
- Contains propolis, which is a naturally occurring antibiotic formed by the bees.
Raw Honey versus Commercial Processed Honey
Commercially available honey (that is the regular honey you see in most supermarkets) is produced by heating the raw honey at high temperature to melt the crystals and kill the yeast and prevent fermentation. This is followed by rapid cooling. It is then filtered to get rid of impurities.
In this process, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, present in raw honey, are largely lost. Raw honey, therefore, bestows more health benefits than processed commercial honey.
However, most people prefer the commercial honey
Raw Honey Benefits
Most health benefits of honey are attributed to raw honey because commercially available honey is processed and pasteurized, which causes the honey to lose valuable ingredients.
Since ancient times, raw honey has been used as an antimicrobial agent. It is also used as a topical application on minor wounds.
This is because the hydrogen peroxide present in raw honey is released after it comes in contact with the body fluids in the wound and we know of the antiseptic properties of hydrogen peroxide.
The phytonutrients (chemicals produced by plants) in raw honey are responsible for its antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. They are also thought to be the reason raw honey has shown immune-boosting and anticancer benefits.
Local application of raw honey helps to relieve seasonal allergies and skin acne.
However, heavy processing destroys the valuable nutrients of raw honey reducing its health value. Honey benefits, therefore, are more potentially seen with raw honey
Composition of Raw Honey
The typical composition of raw honey is about 80 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent water, and the balance 2 percent consists of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Vitamins present include Vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
Minerals present include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.
Raw honey contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals that damage the cells in your body and cause many diseases.
One tablespoon of raw honey packs 64 calories and is free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
About its other contents:
- The average pH of honey is 3.9, but it can range from 3.4 to 6,
- low protein content,
- low water activity,
- high osmotic pressure,
- high carbon to nitrogen ratio,
- high content of reducing sugars,
- Chemical agents like benzyl alcohol, lysozyme.
How much raw honey should you consume in a day?
You should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) of honey per day and that too if it is used to replace other forms of sugar. Stick to moderation as its high sugar and calorie content can have adverse effects.
Dangers of Raw Honey
Raw unfiltered honey may contain suspended particulate matter such as bee pollen and parts of bee wings.
Secondly and more dangerously, raw unprocessed honey is sometimes found to contain spores and toxins of Clostridium botulinum, a type of bacteria, which produce a very powerful neurotoxin.
These bacteria can cause botulism, which is a terminally paralytic disease. That is why honey is never fed to infants under the age of 12 months because infants are very susceptible to this disease. Honey can safely be consumed after the age of 12 months.
- Never feed raw honey or any honey to infants under the age of 12 months.
- Choose your honey well before you buy.
- Raw organic honey will give you more health benefits than processed honey.