Many people considered honey as a natural healing drink, but that may not be the case anymore when they are being processed for shelf space. Honey is high in fructose, but may give you some health benefits when used in moderation.
Over the years, honey has evolved into a concoction of more sugar. It takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey.
Honey has been part of both diet and medicine for centuries. Today, it has been commercially produced and displayed at the shelves of your local grocery store.
This might come as a surprise for you, but processed honey is not honey at all. If you desire to maintain getting any kind of health benefits from the raw honey, you should stick to the real stuff.
In the US, the FDA says that any product that’s been ultra filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey anymore. Removal of the pollen makes no sense and is completely contrary to the concept of marketing the highest quality product possible.
Ultra filtering is a high tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of honey.
The processing of honey often removes many of the phytonutrients found in raw honey as it exists in the hive. Inverted sugar solutions and glucose syrups or corn are often used for making fake honey, mixing with it, or replacing it entirely.
The innocent method of falsification is the addition of water. A honey containing more than 25% water is considered to be falsified. Artificial honey is a food with many shortcomings.
It represents a solution of inverted sugar syrup that comes from the refined sugar, and with generally added other ingredients, such as dyes, flavors, and flavor enhancers.
Four ways to spot artificial honey
- The Thumb Test — Put a drop of the honey on your thumb. If it spreads around right away or spills, it’s not pure. If it stays intact, it’s pure.
- The Water Test — Fill a glass of water and add one tablespoon of “honey” into the water. Pure honey will lump and settle at the bottom of the glass. Adulterated and artificial honey will start dissolving in water.
- The Shelf Life Test — Pure honey will crystallize over time. Imitation honey will remain looking like syrup, no matter how long it is stored.
- Light a Fire — Dip the tip of a matchstick in “honey”, and then strike it to light. Natural honey will light the match easily and the flame will burn off the honey. Fake honey will not light because of the moisture it contains.
Processed honey is not raw honey
The processed honey does not give the same benefits as the raw honey. Many of the honeys sold in the grocery stores aren’t exactly what the bees produce. The WHO and other researchers revealed that without the pollen, there is no way to determine whether the honey came from a legitimate and safe source.
Why care about the pollen? Raw honey is thought to have many medicinal properties. Pollen helps determine the primary floral source. Honey is still honey, even without pollen.
Raw honey would mean a honey that has not been treated or filtered. A 2012 study by the National Honey Board analyzed vitamins, minerals and antioxidant levels in raw and processed honey.
The study showed that processing significantly reduced the pollen content of the honey, but did not affect the nutrient content or antioxidant activity, leading the researchers to conclude that the micronutrient profile of honey is not associated with its pollen content and is not affected by commercial processing.
A sampling of over 60 varieties shows that 76% of honey in grocery stores aren’t actually honey, but just a healthy sugar substitute. Processing the honey removes it pollen, antioxidants, and nutrients. What you are left with is just a sweet syrup!
What is best?
To be able to utilize the antioxidative, immunity, and antiallergy capabilities, you should buy from your local honey dealer where the bees collected nectar from local plants. Raw, unheated, unfiltered honey has the highest nutrient content, including all the enzymes.
The authenticity of the honey is determined by the number, percentage as well as the status of the pollens. Some honey is sold in its beeswax honeycomb, but producers extract most of their honey from the comb and then treat it to extend its shelf life.
Supermarket and grocery store honey has been clearly processed for a clear, uniform appearance and delayed granulation, but most heat sensitive nutrients are dead.
Processed honey labels are usually void of processing information, but the less the processing, the more forthcoming is the declaration.
If a label just mentions, pure honey, it can be highly processed. Some products mention the dominant flower, such as the clover honey, but that doesn’t mean the bees were not also fed sugar or HFCS.
Shelf life is another consideration. Studies have shown that the honey’s antioxidative capacity is significantly reduced after 6 months.
News update May 3 2017
With the current food industry the way it is, many products on the shelves today labeled as a food product isn’t really food. There are many things inside of these products and packages that make them completely processed, even it if’s just to preserve its shelf life.
Some products that contain sugar are honey, molasses, concentrates or fruit juices, and many more. There is no doubt most individuals eat too much sugar. The problem is that you simply do not know how much sugar is added and how much of it is natural.
Money in honey
Unfortunately, honey is now considered as a sugar substitute and not raw food. Checking the purity of the honey is a tough job. It is very difficult to find out if the honey is extracted from natural flowers or taken after feeding bees with sugar.
The majority of commercially sold honey has been processed and refined. Most of the honey found in the supermarkets are not raw honey, but the commercial honey that has been pasteurized followed by rapid cooling and then filtered so that it looks cleaner and smoother.
Although it is more appealing on the shelf and easier to handle and package, the experts say pasteurization destroys all beneficial enzymes, nutrients and antioxidants in honey.
One thing that I learned from this research is to pick a raw honey, but where??
Dietitians say added sugars are a concern because they tend to be consumed in much larger quantities than naturally occurring sugars found in foods such as bananas or milk. Added sugars are a sign of more food processing, which has health implications, including weight gain and high blood pressure.
Some evidence suggests that if you feed sugary food to young children, then their palate adjusts, and they grow more attracted to that in the future. It can be like cultivating a lifelong market for the industry.
Gisel, H. R. (2009). In foodture we trust. USA: Xulon Press.
McGee, H. (1984). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen. New York: Scribner.
Permaculture News. There are shocking differences between raw honey and the processed golden honey found in grocery retailers.
Saseendran, S. (2017). Hark, there’s money in honey. Gulf News.