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, pasteurized, or filtered. Know what it contains, why it should be preferred in the raw state, and know why and how it can be dangerous.

The 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 bees.

Raw honey versus commercially processed honey

Commercially available honey (that is the regular honey you see in most supermarkets) is produced by heating the raw honey at a 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 it are largely lost. Consuming it raw, 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, the raw variety 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 it 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 for its immune-boosting and anticancer benefits.

Local application of raw honey helps to relieve seasonal allergies and skin acne.

In a nutshell, how honey helps  your body’s health:

  • Antioxidant properties because of its phytonutrients content
  • It contains prebiotics, thereby helping in digestion
  • Helps to soothe a sore throat and cough due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Raw honey has cognitive benefits
  • Exhibits antibacterial and antifungal properties, thereby being useful in internal and topical treatment.

However, heavy processing destroys the valuable nutrients reducing its health value. Honey’s health benefits, therefore, are more potentially seen when it is raw.

Composition

The typical composition of raw honey is about 80 percent carbohydrates, and 18 percent water and the balance of 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 packs 64 calories and is free of fats, 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,
  • a high content of reducing sugars,
  • Chemical agents like benzyl alcohol, and lysozyme.

How much 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.

However, according to the Washington Post,

The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) per day; women and children, no more than six teaspoons (24 grams) daily. 

Dangers

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 produces 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.

How to store it?

There is no expiry date for honey because it does not spoil easily. However, it can get contaminated. Therefore, store it in a tightly sealed container away from light and extreme temperatures

After some time, it may start to crystallize and may acquire a grainy appearance. But, it is completely safe. You can warm it a bit to melt the crystals.

Don’t overdo it because higher temperatures can cook the honey, removing its raw properties and darkening its appearance.

If the change in color is drastic or it smells, you must throw away that honey.

Summary

  • 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.