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Is Raw Honey Better than Regular Honey?

One of my readers asked me a very interesting question: “Is raw honey better than processed honey?” My answer is “No.” Okay, that is the end of this article. Just kidding! I’ll give you a bit more information.



honey in a dish


Raw Honey: Is it Better


The generally accepted definition of raw honey is honey that was not heated or processed in another way. Raw honey is usually filtered to remove beeswax and remnants of bees, but the pollen remains. Do the differences mean that raw honey is better than regular honey?


There are claims that raw honey is healthier because it has some pollen that would be otherwise removed when honey is heated and filtered further in processing. While it is true that heating and filtering honey will reduce the pollen content in it, research does not show a change in nutrient content of the honey after the pollen is removed. Regarding the benefits of pollen, there is inadequate quality evidence to show any health benefits of bee pollen.


Some raise the concern that heating honey lowers its antioxidant quantity. While there are no studies that directly looked at this topic, in general, antioxidant vitamins can be degraded with heat. Still, honey starts out with relatively little vitamins compared to other foods such as produce. Reducing vitamin content from little to even less is not something that will likely make a difference in someone's health.


Another claim about the benefits of raw honey are about an enzyme called invertase that is found in honey. This enzyme converts sucrose into glucose and fructose for the production of honey. Invertase, like many other enzymes, is degraded in temperature needed to heat honey for pasteurization. Processed honey does not contain active invertase. That being said, there is inadequate quality evidence showing any health benefits of invertase in honey. Additionally, invertase is an enzyme that is already found in saliva, so it doesn't seem likely to be important if there are small amounts in honey too.


Comparing Raw to Regular Honey: Miniscule Differences

The reason why I almost did not want to give this explanation is because I do not like to focus on the insignificant differences between two items. Somehow, the media picks up on these “nutrition” issues and focuses on them. Then, we as consumers are led to believe that we need to start being concerned about differences between types of honey.


What is Actually Important to Diet Quality: Not Raw Honey


There is a theme in how I practice nutrition. That is to evaluate the nutrition quality of someone's entire eating pattern, not pick on details of individual foods. We need to look at our overall diet to determine its quality. Am I eating vegetables a few times per day? Am I choosing whole grains? Am I drinking water? Am I eating food that tastes good and is good for my health? Don't lose the forest for the trees.

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