Honey. It’s been around a long, long time. According to honey.com, an 8,000-year-old cave painting in Spain depicts honey harvesting.
But what is raw honey?
According to the National Honey Board, it is honey as it exists in the beehive or gathered by extraction, settling or straining – without heating. If honey has been heated to over 105 degrees Fahrenheit, the texture and consistency changes, according to The Honey Jar, a business based in Utah. Raw honey tends to have finer crystals and is creamy and smooth, while burned honey has a smoky aftertaste.
So, what’s the difference between raw honey and organic honey? According to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, honey is certified as organic using the organic livestock standards set by the National Organic Standards Board. One characteristic that qualifies honey as organic is that the hives must be chemical-free. Also, the bees cannot get nectar from flowers sprayed with chemicals.
Additionally, organic honey is heated while raw honey is stored in its natural temperature.
Honey contains nutrients and enzymes that are beneficial to one’s health, according to Healthline. However, health benefits are more specific to raw honey. Raw honey contains antioxidants that help protect the human body from cell damage. It also contains hydrogen peroxide, which is used in multiple medical settings to treat wounds since it is a germ killer and also kills unwanted bacteria and fungus. Since honey is made from plants, it contains phytonutrients, which provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Raw honey is commonly used to help with digestive issues and to soothe sore throats.
In addition to medical health benefits, raw honey has cosmetic health benefits. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, raw honey can be used for face wash, facial cleansing scrubs, facial moisturizing packs, or facials to improve smoothness and softness. Raw honey can also be directly applied to pimples and cracked lips for healing or as an ingredient in hair rinse, conditioner and lotion for dry skin.
When it comes to using honey as a substitute for sugar, there are pros and cons. Honey is favorable because less is needed to get the perfect amount of sweetness. Additionally, honey contains vitamins and minerals and may help with allergies, according to Healthline. Honey, however, is high in calories, made mostly of sugar and not safe for babies under 1 year of age.
Sugar pros include that it’s a naturally occurring substance that is low in calories and has a long shelf life. The cons of sugar include that it can increase the risk of certain diseases, cause weight gain and may be harder to digest than honey. Raw honey may have a better reputation over sugar, but in the end, it depends on the individual.
Local honey comes from as close to where you live as possible. According to Livestrong, research has shown that local honey can help people acquire immunity to seasonal allergies. Honey that comes from bees living around an allergenic plant will have small amounts of pollen from that specific plant, so local honey can work as a preventative if taken in small doses.
Gainesville has a variety of local types of honey including wildflower, orange blossom, palmetto, gallberry and tupelo. It can be found at farmers markets, orchards and local farms.
Wildflower honey, according to Livestrong, has health benefits such as acting as a cough suppressant, protecting the body from oxidation with immune-boosting antioxidants and relieving seasonal allergies.
Orange blossom honey contains a variety of antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, and anti-cancer, and they can also support the immune system, according to Livestrong. Orange blossom honey has a variety of trace minerals including zinc, calcium, potassium, sodium and more. There are also significant antibacterial and wound-healing effects.
Palmetto honey has more of a hormonal impact on the human body and offers more benefits for men than for women, according to Organic Facts. Palmetto honey can help with hair care and growth, improve kidney health, prevent prostate cancer, act as a workout supplement and boost immunity.
Tupelo honey is a great source of immediate energy, has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, induces sleep and acts as a sugar supplement for cooking. It is also easy to digest and is absorbed at a fast rate, making it good for diabetics.