behars Loading... Please wait...

Blog

Sweet talk: Is honey just another form of sugar?

Posted by Rose Costello Irish Times with additional input from Bill Gluyas: www.manukanatural.com on

While sugar has been demonised in recent years, honey is enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity. To some it is liquid gold. To others, including many dieticians, it is just another form of sugar.

One way to make up your mind is to check out the nutrition panels on the labels. Where 100g of white, granulated sugar is 99.8 per cent sugar, the same amount of honey has closer to 75-82 per cent sugar, depending on the brand. Both forms of sugar are made up of fructose and glucose, but at different ratios. What the labels don’t say are that honey also has water, vitamins and minerals. EU regulations don’t allow producers to heat honey to pasteurisation levels as this could destroy the natural enzymes. The type of trace elements will depend on what blooms the bees enjoyed and where the honey is from.

That’s not always obvious. Even though I have spent the past year examining labels, last week I picked up a jar of what I thought was Irish honey only to discover once I had it home that it was not. The jar of Healy Family 100 per cent organic honey declares on the front that it made by “three generations of bee keepers”. The address on the side says Healy’s Family Honey, Maglin, Ballincollig, Co Cork. It has two green Organic Trust symbols and the words certified organic.

So far, so good. Look closer though and it says “EU/non-EU agriculture” indicating the honey could have come from anywhere around the world.

On the side, it also says: “At Healy’s Family Honey we partner our own hives of honey bees with international apiary families to carefully blend selected honey from around the world.”

I’ve nothing against foreign bees, but I would rather know which particular country the honey is from. To be fair to Healys, using non-Irish honey is common practice. Most honey sold under the Boyne Valley brand is not from Louth or anywhere in Ireland unless you get a jar of its limited edition Irish Wildflower honey.

Honey blends

There are EU regulations to ensure the honey we buy is of acceptable quality and labelled appropriately. The regulations say that honey can be bought only from approved countries and that it must be labelled EU, non-EU or both. Hence many honey labels say “made from a blend of EU and non-EU honeys”, which means they might come from anywhere around the world.

The country of origin is often stamped on the side of the lid, however. One jar of “pure unblended organic honey” from Mileeven in Co Kilkenny is from Brazil; a similar jar of its non-organic honey is from Spain.

South America is a common source, especially of organic honey. British brand Rowse imports honeys from all over the world, including South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Its stated aim is to produce a honey that is consistent in flavour, colour, aroma and texture all year round, which is what consumers expect. It also helps to make it one of the cheaper brands on sale in supermarkets.

There is a good reason for buying Irish, however, and not just economic. Irish heather honey has health benefits comparable with the expensive manuka honey transported in from New Zealand, according to a study released by researchers at Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin last year. These benefits include antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Irish honey generally costs more, but may be well worth it.

Best before

There are thousands of beekeepers in Ireland and Boyne Valley says last year’s long, hot summer produced one of the most bountiful supplies of Irish honey in years.

Healys, like other local apiarists, also sells Irish honey in jars that clearly state on the front their origins. Its Premium Irish honey is gathered from bees feeding on the “spring and summer blossoms in the sunny southeast of Ireland”.

Beside the country of origin, there is also usually a production date and a best before date. So, for example, the Mileeven honey was produced this year and is best before March 7th, 2021. Don’t let that put you off eating from an old jar though. Honey does not go off; giving it a best before date is simply a commercial requirement.

Don’t be put off either by the warning seen on jars not to give this sticky treat to babies. It simply means that honey may have spores of a bacteria that a baby’s digestive system cannot handle: Clostridium botulinum. Wait until the baby is at least a year old to start sharing the goodness.

Good advice except the reference to Manuka honey from New Zealand which is proven to contain the world's highest levels of methylglyoxal giving Manuka honey unparalleled effectiveness against a wide range of bacteria and fungi making it far superior for treating internal and external infections. 

If you are planning to treat a skin infection or digestive complaint we recommend buying Manuka honey directly from New Zealand carrying the UMF trademark. This ensures that you are getting a very pure and very high quality product that will be effective. Bill Gluyas https://www.manukanatural.com/manuka-honey-umf/

​I Washed My Face With Manuka Honey for a Week—Here’s What Happened (and why it happened)

I read this story through and the reviewer made two critical mistakes:Firstly she used a very poor quality Manuka honey without UMF certification (Manuka Doctor brand is not registered on the UMFHA website)She only paid $21.00 for 250gm of honey. Immediately this tells me that it contained little or no measurable concentration of methylglyoxal, the [...]

Read More »


Manuka honey breakthrough against drug-resistant bacteria linked to cystic fibrosis infections

Manuka honey shows potential as a breakthrough treatment against a wide range of P. aeruginosa isolates associated with cystic fibrosis patients, suggests the findings of a study which appeared in Frontiers of Microbiology.Although the study does not state the methylglyoxal content of the Manuka honey used in this study, it can be assumed that it was a high [...]

Read More »


How to use Manuka honey for eyes

There is no denying in the health benefits, honey has to offer. It is widely used for a variety of purposes for a very long time. In fact, it was supposedly the main ingredient Ancient Chinese Doctors used to treat their patients, along with Ginseng and Velvet Antler (Velvet Antler is another story relating to its excellent joint [...]

Read More »


What are the first signs of scabies?

You might  find that you have itching in the webbing between your fingers and on the inside of your wrists where you may also see faint lines of burrows beneath the skin. These are tiny, raised, grayish-white or flesh-colored lines caused by the mites digging their way into your skin.They generally appear on the hands [...]

Read More »


How to tell you are buying genuine manuka honey

In the jade roller–colored realm of wellness, where you can pick up $80 crystal water bottles, adorably packaged ceremonial-grade matcha, and reishi-infused wellness shots, there’s nothing like mānuka honey.Made from the nectar of New Zealand’s mānuka tree, mānuka honey is prized for its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. New Zealand’s Māori people have used the mānuka plant for medicinal purposes [...]

Read More »


Manuka honey could lose its effectiveness

Manuka honey could have lost its healing powers before you get it home, scientist warnsThe honey, known as ‘liquid gold’ because it costs up to £100 per jar, is sought after for antibacterial properties that come from its naturally-occurring bug-fighting chemical.But this chemical can be destroyed by prolonged exposure to heat – such as during [...]

Read More »


Why you should never use supermarket Manuka honey on wounds

We have all heard the hype about Manuka honey - how it does everything from healing infected wounds to making us look younger and more attractive.Well some of this is true, sterile certified Manuka UMF honey is now commonly applied to wounds infected with bacteria even MRSA in hospitals and clinics around the world with [...]

Read More »


The Manuka Honey Face Mask Is A Lifesaver For Your Skin

Rather than spend a ton of money using expensive skin care products, some people opt to go the homemade route. They swear that using products that can be found in your kitchen is the secret to achieving and maintaining gorgeous skin. The list includes items such as avocado, coconut oil, and even eggs! But now there's a new one [...]

Read More »


More fraudulent manuka honey discovered in China

Food concerns took centre stage in studies carried out by Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog in 2018, with the alarm sounded over harmful substances people may be filling their bellies with.According to the Consumer Council, some honey and tofu were found to be not as healthy as previously thought, while trends uncovered in some highly sought-after bakery products sparked advice [...]

Read More »


Back to Top