Raw honey is honey that has not been heated, pasteurized or otherwise processed. It is widely regarded as the healthiest form of honey. It contains yeasts, important enzymes and pollens which are widely regarded to be beneficial to health.
Most of the “normal” honey that is found in the supermarket has been pasteurized and filtered – and there have been alarming reports in the last couple of years that a considerable amount of this “industrial grade” honey may be adulterated (see below) with nasties such as High Fructose Corn Syrup and even banned antibiotics!
The processing of honey is performed for a number of reasons – one of which being to improve the “appearance” of the product by removing cloudiness and controlling the color and liquidity of the product. The supermarket trade places a high value on the physical appearance of products – perhaps to the detriment of their nutritional qualities.
Top 7 Benefits Of Raw Honey
1. Raw honey is a nutritional treasure chest. It provides vitamins and minerals in abundance. It is considered beneficial to anemia, arthritis (combined with apple cider vinegar), colds, allergies, obesity, parasites, insomnia and more.
2. Raw honey – in addition to being eaten – has traditionally been applied topically (i.e. put on the skin) and reported to be effective in cases of burns, wound infections, ulcers and even gangrene. Raw honey is reported to contain natural antibiotics and enzymes which assist kill pathogens and heal wounds.
Here is a giant list of cutting edge scientific studies recently done on honey as an antibacterial – including some fascinating research into its properties against nasties such as E. Coli and MRSA.
3. Raw honey has not been filtered. In order to filter the honey, it is typically heated to 150–170 °F (66–77 °C) in order to pass through the filter more easily. Both the heating and the filtering remove valuable nutritional components from the honey. Raw honey contains the pollen (Filtration removes the pollen)- and pollen is though to be of benefit to allergy sufferers (especially if locally produced). Some scientific studies support this traditional use of pollen  however the evidence from science is not yet conclusive.
Even more serious than the filtering of honey, however is “Ultra Filtering”. Ultra filtering is a high-tech process which involves high-pressure forcing of the honey through ultrafine filters. This removes all of the pollen – which is a big problem because in addition to removing many of the nutritional qualities, the presence of pollen is the only way to determine the authenticity of honey.
In tests run by Food Safety News, much of the “honey” found on the shelves of big chain supermarket retailers and in the little packets at major fast food sellers contained no pollen whatsoever. According to Richard Adee, a US honey producer with 80,000 hives “honey has been valued by millions for centuries for its flavor and nutritional value and that is precisely what is completely removed by the ultra-filtration process.”
4. Raw Honey has not been pasteurized.
Quoting Wikipedia: “Pasteurized honey is honey that has been heated in a pasteurization process which requires temperatures of 161 °F (72 °C) or higher. Pasteurization [of honey] destroys yeast cells. It also liquefies any microcrystals in the honey, which delays the onset of visible crystallization. However, excessive heat exposure also results in product deterioration, as it increases the level of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and reduces enzyme (e.g. diastase) activity. Heat also affects the appearance (darkens the natural honey color), taste, and fragrance.”
5. Heating of honey to just 37ºC causes the loss of nearly 200 components – some of which are considered antibacterial. Excessive heat can have detrimental effects on the nutritional value of honey. Heating up to 37 °C (99 °F) causes loss of nearly 200 components, some of which are antibacterial. Heating up to 40 °C (104 °F) destroys invertase, an important enzyme. At 50 °C (122 °F), caramelization of the honey sugars occurs. In general, large temperature fluctuations cause degradation of the product.
6. Raw honey is more likely to be actual honey! This is a SHOCKER: Commercial honey is reported to be one of “the most adulterated food products” in the USA – with up to a shocking one third of the honey in the USA being smuggled from China and tainted! Locally produced, unpasteurized honey is much less likely to be adulterated and investigations have found that “every one of the samples… bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.”
This is serious stuff and much imported honey has been found to contain either toxic ingredients or other sugars such as high fructose corn syrup or even banned antibiotics! “Food safety investigators from the European Union barred all shipments of honey from India because of the presence of lead and illegal animal antibiotics. Further, they found an even larger amount of honey apparently had been concocted without the help of bees, made from artificial sweeteners and then extensively filtered to remove any proof of contaminants or adulteration or indications of precisely where the honey actually originated.”
7. Honey that has been heated contains higher levels of Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) – considered an unwanted component in food. Not enough research has been done to correlate HMF with problems in humans, however some are concerned over potential health risks – and HMF has been suspended from use as a food flavoring agent.
Bonus – 8. Real honey is a true “survival food”! Real, raw honey is reported to be the only food that will not rot. Jars of honey from Ancient Egypt were uncovered and found to be still in good condition! Isn’t that remarkable? Perhaps the bees know something we don’t… food for thought… with all our technology we cannot make food that lasts that long – yet bees can. Perhaps we should revere and respect these remarkable creatures more (and maybe even stop telling ourselves that we are the most intelligent of all creatures?) Bees certainly need our best efforts to survive right now…
Buying Raw Honey
Off-Grid.info has a great list of over 100 suppliers of raw honey.
There are also several brands of good quality raw honey available on Amazon.com. Follow this link to see a list, lots of “five star reviews”.==> Raw Honey on Amazon.com
Honey should not be given to children under the age of 1. There is a small risk of very serious illness to infants from honey due to the possible presence of bacteria that their systems cannot handle.
There is also a possibility (for adults and children) of choking from just eating too much honey on its own – be sure to have a glass of water at hand and eat small amounts of honey at a time.