Raw Honey vs. Not Raw
Raw honey is a crude form of honey immediately taken out of the cells of the honey combs within a bee hive. This form of honey is far from pure. It commonly contains bee pollen and propolis, which are both two very positive health additions. However, raw honey can also possibly contain dead bees, legs, wings, hunks of beeswax and other impurities. Don’t worry though — if any of these unwanted items get into the honey they’re strained out before bottling.
Raw honey cannot be heated above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the normal temperature of the bee hive. While it’s OK to strain raw honey, it’s never filtered or pasteurized. It also cannot have any other additives.
On the other hand, commercial honey is often heavily processed and may even have been chemically refined. Excessive heat destroys the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals in honey. Filtering and processing eliminate many of the beneficial phytonutrients, including pollen and enzyme-rich propolis. The only way to achieve sparkling clear honey is by heat, so avoid the golden, syrup-like honey in favor of opaque, organic raw honey.
Non-raw honey or regular commercial honey can be sourced from bees that are treated with antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin in China’s honey). They also may likely be given winter nourishment in the form of sugar or a low-cost syrup. Hives are made of non-organic materials, which can have pests and be cleaned with non-organic substances. Honey that isn’t raw is pasteurized and filtered, and it can have additives.
Research by the Palynology Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University tested 60 honey products from supermarkets and grocery stores and found that 76 percent contained no trace of bee pollen, which is also loaded with health benefits. The Food and Drug Administration maintains that any honey products that have been ultra-filtered, as these have, are not actually honey and therefore the health benefits of honey cannot be assumed. Some “honey” may even contain high fructose corn syrup.
Organic Honey vs. Not Organic
Organic honey usually means raw organic honey. Just like with raw honey, heating is not allowed above 95 degrees F. In order to be called organic, honey must follow good organic management, according to each country’s set of standards and conditions. Processing should also only be done by means of gravitational settling and straining.
Raw Honey Nutrition Facts
Honey is one of nature’s purest foods and is far more than just a natural sweetener. It’s a “functional food,” which means it’s a natural food with health benefits. Raw honey nutrition is impressive. Raw honey contains 22 amino acids, 27 minerals and 5,000 enzymes. Minerals include iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium. Vitamins found in honey include vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin. In addition, the nutraceuticals contained in honey help neutralize damaging free radical activity.
One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, yet it has a healthy glycemic load around 10 for one tablespoon, which is a little less than a banana. Raw honey does not cause a sugar spike and elevated insulin release like white sugar.
Although honey is an affordable food, bees spend thousands of hours collecting pollen from around 2 million flowers to make one pound of pure honey. Honey is typically about 18 percent water, but the lower the water content, the better the quality of honey. Best of all, honey does not need special storage or refrigeration — use it by the spoonful straight from the jar.
Orange blossom honey falls on the sweeter end of the honey spectrum. This variety has a somewhat subtle, citrussy smell and an overall fresh aroma. It tastes surprisingly sweet and has a delicate, slightly acidic flavor, with a taste reminiscent of citrus fruit.
If you enjoy eating orange blossom honey for its unique and delicate flavors, you will be pleased to know that it's more than just a sweet treat. Orange blossom honey, like many other honey varieties, has medicinal properties that support human health and well-being and can be used both internally and externally.