Manuka honey is said to come with a plethora of health benefits. Its high antibacterial properties make it a household staple, promising to aid in anything from a sore throat to a minor cut and even help clear blemishes. It’s super sweet and has a thicker consistency than regular honey, so it also tastes delicious in smoothies, in tea with a slice of lemon, on your morning oats or drizzled over a cheese platter (yeah, we’re going there).
But if you’ve ever walked into a health food store with the intention of buying a tub of Manuka honey, chances are you’ve walked right back out, gobsmacked at the price and wondering why you almost paid $85 for something like honey when you can just hop on over to Woolies and get yourself a squeeze bottle of Capilano.
Well, just like calories, not all (Manuka) honey is created equal.
Here’s what to look out for to ensure you’re buying into quality, with the help of GO Healthy’s resident naturopath, Peta Teuma.
First and foremost, Teuma stresses the need to look for products coming from New Zealand. “Manuka is the name given to the Leptospermum scoparium tree by the Maori. New Zealand has only one species of this flowering bush while Australia has over 80 varieties.”
“This way, you can be assured that the honey is sourced only from the one species of Leptospermum scoparium making it a ‘monofloral’ honey”—which is what the majority of research (in regards to antibacterial properties) has been carried out on.
UMF & MGO
Teuma explains: “Only Manuka honey from New Zealand can register and display a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor). All honey showing a UMF has been independently tested to confirm that it is active. Manuka honey labels will also show MGO which is an indication of the levels of methylglyoxal the antibacterial component of the honey.”
Thus, the higher the UMF and MGO, the stronger the antibacterial properties and therefore the healing ability of the honey.
“A 20+ Manuka honey has stronger antibacterial properties than a 5+. The higher potency increases the ability to help your body fight infections and heal,” says Teuma.
“We are currently seeing superbugs become resistant to antibiotics and are seeking alternatives,” says Teuma. “Manuka honey is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and a potent antioxidant.”
One particular 2017 study conducted by the University of Sydney proved the health benefits Manuka honey has over regular honey. As Teuma explains:
“They used Manuka honey topically on wounds and noticed the fast healing of wounds treated with manuka honey over standard honey. Those treated with standard honey showed no improvement, those treated with Manuka showed healing and were resistant to infection.”
Most benefits were seen from the UMF 20+, however there were some evident from as low as UMF 5+. “This research confirms that you get what you pay for, so look for the quality UMF marker,” says Teuma. “Your investment in your health is worth it.”
So there you have it. Be weary of misleading marketing ploys and ensure your Manuka honey originates from New Zealand and is high in both UMF and MGO markers (above 20+).