What Is Raw Honey?
Raw honey is honey (nectar from flowers) that is pure, unheated, unpasteurized and unprocessed. This is perhaps one of the most important characteristics and health benefits of the final product, as it preserves all the natural vitamins, enzymes, phytonutrients and other nutritional elements. True raw honey is quite different from processed, commercial honey for these main reasons.
Raw honey has been used by humans for at least 10,000 years, and has played a vital role in health, healing, religious and cultural traditions.
Characteristics of Raw Honey
Raw honey can be in liquid or solid (creamed) form when you purchase it. If you purchase raw honey that is in the liquid form, it may crystallize or solidify over time. It can be clear, or opaque, or milky. Its color can vary from white, to various shades of yellow, and even brown. All of these characteristics will depend on the type of flower that the bees retrieved the nectar for the honey from. It is not possible to tell whether a honey is raw or pasteurized based on color, taste or form (liquid or solid) alone. Some honey experts believe that they can detect a pure, raw honey by taste alone, but this will not be the case for most of us.
To be sure that your honey is raw, it must say so on the label. Some beekeepers may not necessarily pasteurize their honey, but they may still heat it to some degree. Therefore if we want a truly "raw" product we need to inquire about it specifically. You can for example call the company whose honey you are interested in to learn how they prepare their honey, exactly where the honey comes from and how it is prepared.
Raw honey won't hurt us, local, raw honey will have more benefits for us. There is a growing belief amongst the natural health experts and community that raw honey from local sources is beneficial for helping to support immune system health and overall wellness.
It is always best to source out raw, organic honey, but whether your raw honey will be organic or not will greatly vary depending on its source as well. Some experts believe that there is no such thing as truly organic honey, however organic honey certification is available.
Natural Health Benefits of Raw Honey
First and foremost, being a sugar, raw honey most obviously offers a quick source of energy. While this came in very handy to early humans that used this food source, it is more of a drawback to us today, living in a culture of abundant calories.
The main health benefits for which we revere raw honey today come from the unique blend of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, phytonutrients and other health components that it possesses. The two key beneficial components of truly raw honey are bee pollen and propolis.
- Bee pollen
Bee pollen is a super nutritious compound, containing all the nutrients required by the human body. It is a source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, beneficial fatty acids, carotenoids and bioflavonoids which are helpful to cardiovascular health.
The health benefits and uses—both internal and external—of propolis are too numerous to list here. This, along with some of its other characteristics, makes honey highly sought after. Some benefits of raw honey include supporting immune system health, healthy blood sugar levels already within the normal range, healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range and more. Raw honey does not ferment in the stomach and can actually be used in supporting digestive system health. Unlike most sugars, raw honey is not known to aggravate a sensitive digestive tract.
Additionally, raw honey is alkaline forming unlike processed honey which is acid forming. For best natural health, our daily food supply should be higher in alkaline forming foods, rather than acid forming foods.