Honey is an astonishing food that is often overlooked and underappreciated.
In fact, if you’ve only ever had honey from the grocery store, you may not even realize its true potential.
On the other hand, raw honey offers a great way to get the maximum health benefits from honey and to find the best taste as well.
That’s why this post is focused on the best raw honey brands. After all, if you want to get the most out of honey, you need to be choosing a good brand to begin with.
Don't want to wait? Skip straight to the brands!
The Health Benefits of Raw Honey
Honey typically goes through significant processing, which includes exposure to high heat and also filtration.
As a result, much of the honey in stores will be lacking in nutrients and will have fewer vitamins, minerals and enzymes than it should. Likewise, the filtration aspect also means that there isn't any pollen either.
Because there are so many missing nutrients, honey processed in this way won’t have the same health benefits.
This is where raw honey comes in.
Generally speaking, raw honey will go through as little processing as possible. For example, some companies strain the honey (to remove chunks of beeswax and debris) and heat it slightly but that’s it.
The end result is that raw honey will tend to offer more benefits. And really, that just makes sense. After all, processed food is a significant problem in modern society and some of those issues are even true for honey.
Indeed, much of the research into honey has been conducted on raw honey, rather than processed alternatives.
There are many benefits specifically associated with honey and with raw honey. One of the most prominent is antimicrobial properties (1). This effect is true for all types of honey, but it is most significant in manuka and kanuka varieties (2).
The evidence supporting these effects may be somewhat limited but honey is still a good alternative to medication in many cases.
If nothing else, the antimicrobial effects of honey may be relevant here.
Honey is also used in other ways, including externally. The polyphenols in honey may also help to decrease heart disease risk, although the connection is mostly theoretical at this stage (10).
If nothing else, honey certainly has more nutritional benefits than sugar and can be a much better option for a sweetener. Likewise, people often combine honey with other healthy choices, such as ginger, cinnamon and lemon.
One way of achieving this is in tea, although people tend to find their own solutions based on what they enjoy and need.
There are many different varieties of raw honey and these can have dramatic differences in taste. Additionally, you’ll find some options that are made with the nectar from a single type of flower, while others may use a combination.
However, there is one specific variety that gets considerable attention, which is manuka honey. This is produced from the species Leptospermum scoparium and the plant is native to New Zealand and southeast Australia.
Manuka honey is also one of the darkest varieties of honey.
This gives it a fairly deep and distinctive taste, which is very different than the honey that many people are used to.
For example, the UMF rating can be seen with the product below, which is also one of the best honey brands if you’re specifically looking at manuka honey.
With this in mind, picking manuka honey with a higher MGO or UMF rating could potentially mean more benefits. Nevertheless, the rating does specifically refer to antimicrobial activity. As a result, it doesn’t offer a complete picture of the health benefits.
Additionally, a higher rating will typically increase the price. For example, there is a UMF 5+ version of the honey above, which is a cheaper alternative.
Overall, manuka honey is often viewed as being extremely healthy and is popular among people wanting to get the best possible outcomes from honey.
Raw Honey vs Processed Honey
Visually, raw honey looks the same as processed.
Differences in the color and texture of honey actually come from the specific variety (or varieties) of flower that the bees visit, rather than the processing methods.
As a result, you can’t tell whether honey is raw or processed simply from looking at it.
But, the taste differences are dramatic. In fact, raw honey can be a shock if you’ve never tried it before and it can take a little time before you start to enjoy it.
Basically, raw honey brings out the influence of the flower much more strongly. In contrast, processed honey simply ends up tasting mostly like sugar.
This pattern also means that the different varieties of raw honey are very distinct from each another. For example, the image below highlights one unusual option, which comes from the company Big Island Bees.
I don’t really classify this as one of the best raw honey brands, mostly because it isn’t very well known. However, their honey does get exceptionally good reviews and it can be an interesting option.
The important thing about this flavor is that it has a nutty taste, which is somewhat unusual in honey.
With raw honey, the variety really can have a dramatic impact. This means that you can shop around and look for specific floral combinations that you enjoy the taste of.
In terms of health, you’re going to get many of the same benefits regardless of the variety, although each will have a slightly different balance of nutrients. The obvious exception to that rule is manuka honey, which does have more antimicrobial benefits.
The same is actually true for a variety called kanuka, which is a closely related species. However, kanuka honey is rare outside of New Zealand, as it isn’t commonly exported.
It’s easy to assume that creamed honey is processed but that’s not actually the case.
Instead, crystallization is a natural event that occurs with honey. Indeed, honey that you store may crystallize over time and this type of honey will liquefy under some conditions as well.
It’s also possible for companies to promote crystallization while the honey remains raw. You can even find this with manuka honey, such as the option that Airborne produces.
Now, in most cases, raw honey is liquid rather than being creamed. However, you can certainly find either option and can choose based on what you’re looking for.
Finding Good Raw Honey
There are many amazing examples of raw honey out there but you do still have to be careful with what you choose.
For one thing, raw honey is mostly a marketing term. As a result, companies will vary in the exact processing methods they use.
However, most companies that specialize in raw honey will make their approaches clear. In many cases, the honey will even be traceable, allowing you to find out specifically where the honey comes from.
With most healthy foods, choosing organic is normally ideal. But, that isn’t realistic with honey. Honey is produced from bees gathering nectar and there is no real way to control where they go.
As a result, it isn’t normally possible for honey to be organic. There are exceptions but you certainly don’t need honey to be organic for it to be healthy.
It’s also critical that you pay close attention to the labeling.
For example, some options for raw honey will be from a single variety, while others may be mixed. This is a particular issue if you’re looking for a specific type of honey and isn’t always obvious.
One case of this comes from the same company as above, which sells a Manuka and Wildflower variety as well.
This could be an appealing option for somebody that wants a cheaper alternative to straight manuka. Likewise, manuka honey does have a fairly intense taste. Trying a blend instead is one way to get some of the benefits, along with a milder taste.
Still, some of the reviews for this honey suggest that people simply don’t read the label and expect straight manuka honey.
Finally, if you’re buying on Amazon or somewhere similar, take the time to look at reviews. The customer isn’t always right but reviews are a great way to see the balance of customer opinion. That alone can offer great insight.
The Best Raw Honey Brands
There are many different options out there, but what are the very best raw honey brands?
Well, for one thing, that depends a little on what you’re looking for. If you want manuka honey, then one great choice is the brand Manuka Health New Zealand.
This company strongly specializes in manuka honey and provides significant information about where the honey comes from. The brand also has a range of different MGO ratings, so you can choose based on which you want.
If you’re not looking for manuka honey, then there are many different options and various examples of best raw honey brands.
But, one good place to start is to look for companies that actually tell you what flower the honey comes from. If they don’t, the result is typically from multiple flowers.
Honey from multiple varieties isn’t necessarily any less healthy. But, if you’re looking for the health benefits of raw honey, then it makes sense to get the taste advantages as well.
To do that, monofloral honey may be better. The reason is that raw honey takes on the characteristics of the flowers that the nectar comes from. As a result, honey from a single type of flower tends to have a more unique and distinctive flavor.
One example of this is Glory Bee.
This brand offers a range of different flavors and sizes, so you can choose which options interest you the most. Some of the options are also organic, while others aren’t.
The company provides considerable information about their processes and there is a strong emphasis on creating high-quality natural honey using as little processing as possible.
If you’re looking for something a little unusual, another option is the product below, which comes from The Tasmanian Honey Company.
In talking about best raw honey brands, I also want to mention this option, which comes from the company Honey Land.
There hasn’t been much research done on health benefits from honeycomb itself but it’s easy to see that there could be advantages. At the same time, many people do enjoy the honeycomb and it really is something to try at least once.
The sales page for the product provides additional information about what you can expect.
Realistically, there are many examples of best raw honey brands, far too many to cover in detail. Often, you’ll find that some of the best options are the small and obscure companies, especially those that are family owned.
But, more than anything, the answer may come down to trying out a few types yourself and working out what specific varieties you enjoy the most. The ones mentioned on this list are a great place to start and can offer insight into the types of honey that you favor.
When it comes to raw honey, what brand do you prefer? Did I include it in this list?
Want to Improve Your Health?
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