Did you know that there are many different varieties of honey? Honey is classified into different types based on the type of flowers the bees pollinated. Some of the common North American types of honey include clover, orange blossom, blueberry, sage, tupelo, buckwheat, fireweed, mesquite and sourwood. Clover is one of the most mild tasting honeys, while buckwheat is one of the most intense. They also range in color from a clear pale yellow (mild tasting) to a dark somewhat opaque brown color (intense tasting). The color corresponds to the flavor; the darker the honey the more intense the flavor. Although the honeys have different colors and tastes, they all have approximately the same amount of sugars in them. Today we will go through the different types and their uses and benefits!
I Recently came across a sample of buckwheat honey and gave it a try. The taste was a sort of molasses-like, which wasn’t too bad, but the smell was not pleasant. I got some other people to try it as well and everybody else seemed to dislike the smell as well. I also tried blueberry blossom and wildflower honeys. Wildflower is made from many different types of flower nectar so it can range from light to dark, but the stuff I had was a darker golden color. Blueberry blossom is also a medium honey, I actually liked both the blueberry and the wildflower a lot. They don’t have the potent smell the very dark honeys have, and I found them to be very flavorful while still maintaining their sweetness and classic honey taste.
So what’s the difference?
The darker honeys have more antioxidants in them. This article states that buckwheat (dark) honey has 20 times the antioxidants compared to clover (light) honey. The mineral content in darker honeys is also higher; potassium, chlorine, sulfur, iron, manganese, and magnesium have been found to be much higher in darker honeys (source). So the darker the honey you are able to eat (and still enjoy), the more nutrients you will be getting!
There is also Manuka honey which is from bees that pollinate the manuka bush (native to New Zealand). This honey is very special and has tons of healing properties. It is used as a natural remedy for acne (as a mask and wash) and also for wound healing. If you want to do some further reading on manuka honey you can read more here.
Other uses and benefits of honey:
- Honey is delicious (and an excellent sugar replacement) in teas, coffee, and all kinds of baking.
- Honey does not aggravate small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) the way most other sugars do.
- Buckwheat honey taken at night is an effective treatment for upper respiratory infection and associated cough that contributes to sleep difficulty.
- Honey possesses a large number of friendly bacteria cultures.
- Honey is an effective burn treatment (Source)
- Raw honey is an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal substance.
- Honey can be used on the face and body; it softens skin by moisturizing and rejuvenating.
- Unlike white sugar, honey contains beneficial nutrients (no matter how light or dark). Honey is actually metabolized differently in the body than white sugar, so honey should not be considered the same thing as white sugar.
- Do not feed honey to babies as their bodies have not developed immunity to the certain bacterial strains present in honey.
- Buy organic unpasteurized (raw) honey. Pasteurized honey has been heated which destroys much of its beneficial enzymes and nutrients.
- Avoid buying generic brands of honey that appear on the shelves at Walmart; they are most likely neither raw or organic, and have little nutritional benefit.
- Remember that more is not necessarily better. Most sources recommend a tablespoon or two of raw honey per day. Enjoy in moderation.
- Buying local is always the best way to go, if possible.