raw honey

Dive into the sweet science of raw honey, a golden treasure brimming with health-promoting potential. Far from being a mere sweet snack, nature’s primordial nectar is an ideal source of energy for all kinds of animals, including humans. Raw honey offers an array of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, plus bee pollen and bee propolis. All these constituents of raw honey are beneficial for humans and other animals. The daily consumption and topical usage of raw honey has a strong historical precedent and substantial scientific backing.

In this article, we explore what raw honey is, what differentiates it from regular honey, where to source it, its numerous benefits and uses, some scientific research, and much more.

What Is Raw Honey?

what is raw honey

Raw honey, as the name suggests, is honey in its purest form: harvested straight from the beehive and put into jars. Honey in its original, pristine, unheated, unadulterated form is literal liquid gold, a wondrous gift from God, stored by bees in raw honeycomb. Allow me to now unpack this seemingly hyperbolic statement.

Unlike conventional pasteurized honey, raw honey is unpasteurized, so it retains all its beneficial nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, bee pollen, bee propolis, royal jelly, and even beeswax. If you’ve ever tried raw honey before, then you know there’s a drastic difference in purity, richness, and taste between raw and heated honey, not to mention the sense of invigoration you feel from eating it, especially as a pre- or post-workout.

Why Choose Raw Honey Over “Regular” Honey?

Now, if you’ve never tried raw honey, you might wonder and ask, “Why all the fuss about raw honey? Isn’t honey just honey?” Well, dear reader, let’s break it all down:

  1. Nutritional Value: Raw honey is packed with trace minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants, not to mention naturally occurring bee pollen and bee propolis, as well as small amounts of royal jelly and beeswax. Nutrients include trace amounts of vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and boron. The exact antioxidant count depends on the variety (wildflower, acacia, etc.), but its always extremely high.
  2. Natural Enzymes: These biological catalysts aid in digestion. Pasteurization wipes ’em out.
  3. Taste and Texture: Raw honey has a unique taste and rich texture that sets it apart from the processed version.

A table summarizing the key differences:

FeatureRaw HoneyRegular Honey
NutrientsRichSome Lost
Taste & TextureDistinct & RichOften Uniform
AdditivesNoneSometimes Added

Raw Honey and Health

Raw honey is an extremely healthy food that most people can enjoy and reap benefits from. From cough remedies and better digestion to skin care, raw honey has made a name for itself in the health and wellness world.

You can intentionally consume raw honey to boost your metabolism, cellular energy, digestion, immunity, mental and physical performance, sleep, recovery, and so on. But sourcing, timing, and intentionality are key. For instance, if you’re not exerting yourself mentally and physically on a daily basis, such that you’re mostly sedentary and unproductive, you may not feel the invigorating and rejuvenative effects of honey within your system. It’s not even a matter of insulin sensitivity vs. resistance; rather the fact that an inactive lifestyle will diminish the benefits of intrinsically beneficial foods, whatever they may be.

With that initial caveat out the way, we will now look at how this golden nectar can fit into your daily diet and wellness routine. To skip ahead to the health benefits sections, click here.

Raw Honey in Your Daily Diet: How and Why?

spoonful of honey

Using raw honey in your daily diet isn’t just about satisfying that sweet tooth. There’s an art and science to it. Let’s explore:

Spoonfuls of Wellness: Medicinal Uses

Ever heard grandma’s advice about a spoonful of honey for a sore throat? Well, she was onto something. Raw honey’s antimicrobial properties make it a natural healer.

  • Cough Suppressant: A spoonful before bed can calm that nagging cough.
  • Wound Healing: Applied topically, it’s amazing for wound recovery.
  • Allergy Relief: Local raw honey can potentially ease seasonal allergies.

Meals with Raw Honey: Beyond Dessert

Raw honey isn’t confined to tea or desserts; it can be a culinary superstar and be part of your main meals, which should me full of macronutrients and micronutrients.

  • Smoothies: Make raw honey your healthy smoothie sweetener. It pairs extremely well with milk, yogurt, whey protein, collagen, berries, bananas, and similar smoothie staples.
  • Marinades: Meat marinated with raw honey? You’ll lick your fingers. In fact, you can just drizzle raw honey on top of your steak, beef burgers, or chicken breast. It might sound weird, but it tastes phenomenal. You have to try it before dismissing it.
  • Sourdough Spread: Raw honey on toasted sourdough bread with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil is delightful. It’s extremely healthy too, especially for your gut, due to the prebiotic enzymes in raw honey, prebiotic fibers in sourdough, and polyphenols in olive oil.

Here’s a chart showing ways to make raw honey part of your meals and your life:

Meal TimeRaw Honey UseBenefit
BreakfastSpread on sourdough toast with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)Excellent for gut microbiome diversity and digestion
LunchMain source of sweetness in your post-workout protein smoothiePerfect for post-workout glycogen replenishment and muscle recovery, paired with dairy protein and some fruits
DinnerAs a glaze for meatsEnhances the flavor of meats, especially red meats like beef, bison, and venison. Suffices as your main source of quick-digesting carbs to relax your body and promote deep sleep.
AnytimeIn herbal teaSoothing & comforting for any throat issues (dry cough, soreness, etc.), even though beneficial compounds will diminish as honey dissolves in hot water.

Further Caveats: When Honey Isn’t Right

While honey is a true treasure trove, it’s not for everyone:

  • Infants: Babies under one year should avoid honey, raw or otherwise.
  • Allergies: Those allergic to bee products should steer clear.
  • Calories: You need to balance carbohydrate consumption with the other macronutrients (mainly protein), adequate exercise, ideally cardio and lifting, plus mental energy expenditure (deep work).
  • Keto: Obviously, if you’re following a ketogenic or low-carb diet, which can be beneficial temporarily but not long-term (in my opinion), then avoid honey during periods of ketosis.

Raw Honey and Skincare: Enliven Your Skin

raw honey skincare

Raw honey is known to cleanse, revitalize, heal, and protect human skin. Ancient kings, queens, emperors, and pharaohs would revere and relish it for its unique beautifying and healing qualities.

DIY Honey Face-masks: A Spa at Home

If you’re into expensive spa treatments, you can save all that money by switching to at-home DIY face-masks. Mix raw honey with other skin-nourishing ingredients like whole yogurt, extra-virgin olive oil, aloe vera gel, and squalene, and voilà, a salubrious face-mask.

Natural Moisturizer: Bye-Bye Dry Skin

Honey draws moisture into the skin. A dab on those dry spots, and your skin will become supple. Unfortunately, you can’t just leave it on and go about your day, as honey goes on quite thick. Instead, use it as a temporary moisturizer; leave it on for about 20 min or so, then wash it off. Afterward, you probably won’t need any additional leave-on moisturizer, since your skin will (a) feel supple and (b) have absorbed all the antioxidants and minerals from the honey.

Acne Treatment: A Sweet Solution

Honey has natural antimicrobial properties which can tackle those pesky pimples. A little dab every night, and watch them vanish in a couple days.

Now that we’ve covered some topical uses of honey, we’ll turn to sourcing. Sourcing real honey and understanding labels is crucial in today’s day and age, for reasons all too familiar to health-conscious buyers.

Finding Real Honey: Labels and Buzzwords

With all the buzz surrounding raw honey and other raw bee products, no pun intended, navigating the supermarket shelves can be a sticky situation. But don’t worry; I’ve got you covered!

Understanding Labels: What to Look For

Not all honey is created equal. Here’s what to check when you’re shopping:

  • “Raw”: Ensure it’s labeled as raw, meaning unheated and unpasteurized. Some jars or bottles will state “unheated” and/or “unpasteurized” outright. If you see any one of these three words (“raw,” “unheated,” or “unpasteurized”), then you can rejoice; you’ve struck liquid gold. Real honey is actually easy to source and find.
  • “Unfiltered”: This ensures all the nutritious bits are still in there. If the jar is labelled “raw,” “unheated,” or “unpasteurized,” then you can be sure its unfiltered.
  • “Local”: Supporting local beekeepers is a sweet move for community and quality. Most local beekeepers keep the honey they harvest as is. In other words, most local honey is raw and unpasteurized. Of course, if you don’t see one of the three reassuring labels above, you can contact the local beekeepers, farmers, or company.

Avoiding the Fake Stuff: Imitation Honey

Beware! Not everything that glitters is gold. Some honey might be adulterated with sugars and syrups. You can always do a quick Google search of the brand on the honey jar. It’s best to stick with established brands and local sources.

Bee Responsible: Ethical Sourcing

Love bees? Me too! Choose honey that ensures ethical beekeeping practices. Happy bees make happy honey.

Here’s a quick glance at what to look for:

What to Look ForWhat it MeansWhy It Matters
RawUnpasteurized, no heating, synonymous labels: “unheated” or “unpasteurized”Preserves nutrients, prebiotic enzymes, unique bioactive compounds, & original heavenly taste
LocalHarvested nearbySupports local beekeepers and farmers
EthicalEnvironmentally friendly & humane beekeepingGood for bees & environment

Raw Honey Recipe Ideas: Sweet Inspiration

Looking to get creative with raw honey? Here are some delicious ideas I thought I’d quickly share:

Breakfast Boost: Honey Yogurt Bowl

Drizzle ~2 tablespoons of raw honey on your yogurt of choice, top with macadamia nuts and assorted berries, and start the day right. Optional addition: raw bee pollen, which is packed with precious B vitamins that support energy production, cognition, and nervous system health.

Dinner Delight: Honey Glazed Salmon

Glaze a piece of wild-caught salmon with raw honey and some premium soy sauce. The honey and soy sauce combination is honestly hard to beat.

Side note: Use a high-quality soy sauce, but even then not too much. Soy products have goitrogens, which are compounds that can disrupt the normal production of thyroid hormones. However, occasionally having some soy sauce with your seafood and meat dishes is fine, since the goitrogenic effect is negligible.

Dessert Dream: Honey Ice Cream

Homemade raw honey ice cream? Say no more. Tip for the health-conscious: Get a store-bought ice-cream with pure ingredients (milk, eggs, cream, etc.) and no additives (carrageenan, gums, etc.). There are many simple homemade ice cream recipes on YouTube.

If you’ve read this far into the article, you’ve (hopefully) realized that real unheated honey isn’t just another item in the pantry; it’s a versatile, health-promoting, delicious treasure. From cough remedies to gourmet recipes, it fits into every aspect of a wholesome lifestyle.

But now, we lock our focus on health. The next three sections of this article dives into the benefits of unheated honey on three fundamental areas of our health: gut health, heart health, and thyroid health, in that order.

Raw Honey and Gut Health: Sweet Harmony

Besides being the queen of all sweet delights, raw honey is a helper like no other when it comes to gut health. Let’s delve into how honey nurtures your digestive system:

Prebiotic Power: Feeding the Good Bacteria

Raw honey nourishes the good bacteria in your gut. Honey acts as a prebiotic since it increases your good gut microbiota. Your gut microbiota feast on special compounds in honey and grow in number. These good bacteria, in turn, keep your digestive system humming smoothly. In this study which cites multiple other studies, the researchers state the following:

Numerous in vivo studies using animal models show that honey acts as a prebiotic, specifically by promoting the populations of probiotic bacteria, including Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp., and alleviating symptoms of constipation and ulcerative colitis.

Schell KR, et al. The Potential of Honey as a Prebiotic Food to Re-engineer the Gut Microbiome Toward a Healthy State. Front Nutr. 2022 Jul 28.

Enzymes Galore: Aid for Digestion

Raw honey is a treasure trove of natural enzymes that assist in breaking down your food. These enzymes remain intact in unheated honey. Enzymes like invertase and diastase promote digestion and help your gut stay in tip-top shape.

Soothing Effects: Gentle on the Gut

Ever felt a tummy ache and reached for a warm honey-lemon tea? Honey’s soothing properties can calm an upset stomach. Its natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds provide gentle relief.

Balancing Act: A Healthy Gut Flora

Raw honey’s antibacterial properties can help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora. It supports the growth of beneficial bacteria while keeping the harmful ones in check. Many peer-reviewed research and review studies conclude or affirm the potent antibacterial, anti-pathogen effects of raw honey. Different kinds of honey (Manuka, Sidr, wildflower, etc.) have different antibacterial potencies and antioxidant levels. Manuka honey is among the best in terms of antibacterial effects and antioxidants. In summary, honey is nature’s most palatable antibiotic.

Here’s a rundown of honey’s gut-friendly components:

ConstituentWhat It DoesWhy It’s Beneficial
Prebiotic CompoundsFeeds beneficial gut bacteriaSupports gut microbiome and digestive health
Natural EnzymesAssists in breaking down foodEnhances digestion
AntioxidantsNeutralizes harmful free radicalsProtects gut lining
Anti-Inflammatory CompoundsReduces inflammation in the gutSoothes digestive discomfort

Integrating Raw Honey for Gut Health

Here are two simple methods of integration:

  • Smoothies: Blend it into a gut-loving smoothie with ripe bananas, berries, and yogurt.
  • As a Sweetener: Replace sugar with raw honey in recipes to reap its gut-healing properties.

A Word of Caution

While honey is beneficial, it’s not a cure-all. Always consult with healthcare professionals if you have specific digestive issues. Digestive issues have varying levels of severity. High-quality raw honey is indeed a powerful tool to have in your healing arsenal, but you may need other tools, natural and/or pharmaceutical, which can treat specific and serious ailments.

Summary: A Sweet Gut Connection

Raw honey and gut health are woven together through prebiotics, enzymes, antioxidants on one end and the need for gut microbiome balance on the other. It’s not just about satisfying a sweet craving; it’s about nurturing your whole body.

Next, we explore the potential and actual benefits of honey on cardiovascular health.

Raw Honey and Cardiovascular Health: A Heart-Healthy Connection

Raw honey is more soothing to the heart than the taste buds. Here’s how:

A Heartfelt Support: Boosting Cardiovascular Health

Raw honey’s antioxidant properties are a boon for the heart. These antioxidants may aid in reducing the risk of heart disease by keeping those arteries flexible and flowing. Raw honey has been shown to increase levels of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide plays an important role in optimal blood circulation, arterial health, and other aspects of cardiovascular function. One study concludes that honey is a promising source of nitric oxide (NO) metabolites, at varying concentrations, and that intravenous infusion of honey raised plasma and urinary NO metabolites.

Cholesterol Control: Sweet News for the Heart

Many studies, such as this human study (a randomized control trial), suggest that raw honey is effective in keeping cholesterol levels in check. Lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and higher good cholesterol (HDL)—that’s ultimately what raw honey could offer. The researchers in the study linked above conclude the following:

Honey reduced total cholesterol (3%), LDL-C (5.8), triacylglycerole (11%), FBG (4.2%), and CRP (3.2%), and increased HDL-C (3.3%) in subjects with normal values, while in patients with elevated variables, honey caused reduction in total cholesterol by 3.3%, LDL-C by 4.3%, triacylglycerole by 19%, and CRP by 3.3% (p < 0.05).

Yaghoobi N, et al. Natural honey and cardiovascular risk factors; effects on blood glucose, cholesterol, triacylglycerole, CRP, and body weight compared with sucrose. ScientificWorldJournal. 2008 Apr 20.

In plain English, the results from the study indicate that consuming honey reduces the risk of various cardiovascular diseases, especially in people with increased risk factors, without increasing body weight in overweight or obese people.

Now, we move on to fitness, which is directly tied to and depends on cardiovascular health.

Raw Honey for Fitness: Energize, Recover, Repeat

Honey is one of best sources of carbohydrates, period. It’s extremely easy-to-digest since it has no complex fibers—no fiber at all actually—and yet it serves as a prebiotic, enhancing digestion and gut health. Being such a quick-digesting and gut-protective carbohydrate source, a spoonful of honey makes the perfect pre- and post-workout. Power through your reps and sets, then replenish your glycogen stores, exclusively with honey. You can add other substances and sources of natural sugar, but that’s entirely optional. Honey will suffice.

Energy Boost: Pre-Workout Fuel

A spoonful of raw honey is sure to provide that quick surge of energy and sudden jolt of vigor without any eventual crash that refined sugars might bring. This immediately noticeable benefit is directly tied to honey’s cardioprotective and blood-flow-enhancing effects.

Recovery Aid: Post-Workout Nourishment

After a strenuous workout, honey should be your go-to recovery food. Its natural sugars aid in replenishing glycogen stores, helping muscles recover. Eating a spoonful of honey right after an intense workout will drop your elevated cortisol levels back to a healthy, i.e. relatively low, baseline. Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones that we want to keep tonically low for optimal health. Intense exercise, especially intense endurance exercise, naturally elevates cortisol levels. We don’t want it, or any other stress hormone, to stay elevated. Consuming natural sugars plus electrolytes (mainly sodium, potassium, magnesium) post-workout is a surefire way to bring cortisol (and other stress hormones) back down. Consuming natural sugars and electrolytes pre-workout and inter-workout (between sets) will also help to mitigate natural stress responses and fuel you to blast through your movements.

Hydration Helper: Electrolyte Balance

Mixed with water and a pinch of salt, honey can be part of a homemade electrolyte drink. If you don’t have pure fruit juice, coconut water, or a good pre-made electrolyte drink in your fridge, then worry not, for honey and salt will suffice you! The water, natural sugars, and sodium will be enough before, during, and after your workout. Honey even has some potassium and magnesium, but you can get more of those in a nutritious post-workout meal.

Here’s a quick look at how real honey supports cardiovascular health and fitness:

AspectHow Honey HelpsBenefit
Heart HealthRich in antioxidantsMay reduce heart disease risk
CholesterolPotential to balance cholesterol levelsSupports cardiovascular health
Energy BoostQuick source of natural sugarsEnergizes pre-workout
RecoveryHelps in glycogen replenishmentAids post-workout recovery
HydrationCan be part of a homemade electrolyte solutionSupports hydration & endurance

Raw honey’s potential benefits for heart health, energy, and recovery extend its role beyond the kitchen. It’s part of a balanced lifestyle that supports not only wellness but also fitness goals.

Whether you’re looking to support your heart or enhance your fitness routine, unheated honey is a marvellously sweet addition to consider.

Remember to pair honey with a balanced diet and regular exercise, and always consult with healthcare or fitness professionals for more personalized recommendations.

Moving on, our final section touches on thyroid health. Our sweet journey is sadly nearing its end.

Honey and Thyroid Health: A Sweet Support

The thyroid might be a small gland, but it’s role in the body is momentous. It’s like the conductor of your body’s orchestra, controlling energy, metabolism, and much more through vital hormones. Now, where does honey come into play? Let’s break it down:

Thyroid 101: The Simple Science

Think of the thyroid as your body’s thermostat. It produces hormones, T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) and T3 (active thyroid hormone), that regulate how your body uses energy. These hormones keep your entire metabolism running smoothly, help in regulating temperature, and even support your heart and brain.

Natural Sugars and Thyroid Function: A Connection

Honey contains natural sugars like fructose and glucose. These sugars are more than just sweet; they play a role in energy metabolism.

  • Energy Boost: Thyroid hormones need energy to function, and honey can provide that quick fuel. In fact, your liver uses natural sugars like fructose and glucose to convert inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into active thyroid hormone (T3)! Most of the conversion of T4 to T3 happens in the liver; your thyroid only makes a little T3. And high T3 is what we’re really after.
  • Metabolism Support: By aiding in energy production and conversion into T3, honey supports the thyroid in managing your metabolism, at every level. One level is that of peristalsis and gut motility, which depends, at least in part, on sufficient amounts of T3 and a properly functioning thyroid gland.
  • Balance and Harmony: Continuing on with the direct benefits of T3 and the indirect or downstream benefits of honey and other simply carbohydrates, it’s crystal clear in the scientific literature that higher levels of T3 results in a higher level of health, in all areas.

Here’s a quick snapshot of honey and it’s effects on thyroid health:

AspectHow Honey HelpsWhy It’s Beneficial
Energy for ThyroidQuick source of natural sugars (fructose and glucose)Fuels active thyroid hormone (T3) production in the liver
Metabolism SupportAids in thyroid-driven energy metabolismSupports thyroid function via increased levels of T3
BalanceIndirectly supports all aspects of health by boosting T3 productionContributes to optimal health and wellness

In a Nutshell: A Spoonful of Support

Honey’s natural sugars make it a supportive friend to your thyroid. It’s about enjoying that sweet taste while fueling the body’s energy maestro—the thyroid.

Just a spoonful might make a difference, but remember, every body is unique. You’re encouraged to consult with a healthcare professional, ideally a thyroid specialist, if you want to tailor your diet to your thyroid health.


Is raw honey good for you?

Yes, raw honey is good for you since it contains copious beneficial nutrients and compounds. Real honey offers plenty of powerful antioxidants which actively fight inflammation and may lower your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

What is the difference between honey and raw honey?

Raw honey is strained right from the beehive, preserving its natural nutrients. Regular honey undergoes additional steps like pasteurization and filtration, which can remove beneficial components like pollen and reduce the antioxidant content.

Is it OK to eat raw honey every day?

Raw honey is safe and beneficial for most people to consume daily. It has promising health benefits ranging from improved digestion to better arterial health. However, raw honey can contain botulinum spores, so it’s not suitable for infants and people with certain allergies.

What is the difference between raw honey and filtered honey?

Raw honey is strained to remove impurities but retains all its natural constituents. Filtered honey, especially ultra-filtered, undergoes additional refinement, removing more impurities and sometimes beneficial components like pollen. This makes filtered honey clearer and smoother but reduces its nutritional value.

Who should avoid raw honey?

Infants and children under one year old should avoid raw honey due to the risk of botulism poisoning. Individuals with specific allergies or health conditions might also need to avoid it. Consulting a healthcare provider for personalized advice is always best.

Should raw honey be refrigerated?

No, you don’t need to refrigerate raw honey. Due to its natural composition, you can store it at room temperature. Refrigeration may cause it to crystallize faster, altering its texture.

Is 100% pure honey the same as raw honey?

No, 100% pure honey can still be pasteurized or processed, whereas raw honey is not subjected to these processes. The latter retains its natural qualities, whereas 100% pure honey may have undergone treatments that alter its characteristics.

Is a spoonful of honey a day good for you?

A spoonful of honey, especially if its raw, can be beneficial due to its antioxidants and enzymes. It might help with various health aspects, such as wound healing, heart health, and gut health.

Conclusion: The Sweet Symphony of Raw Honey

In conclusion, raw honey is far more precious than most people think; in its pure and unadulterated form, honey is potentially the single greatest source of carbohydrates for many creatures on Earth, including us humans. Additionally, honey is a supreme source of unique compounds with antimicrobial and enzymatic functions, as well as copious antioxidants. We as humans have sought out, harvested, benefited immensely from, and cherished honey of all kinds for millennia. The multifaceted benefits and uses of honey create a sweet symphony that resonates through the world of health and wellness.

Key Takeaways

  • Sourcing Raw Honey: It should clearly state on the jar/bottle that the honey is raw, unpasteurized, and/or unheated. Looking up brands is also a good idea, and getting local raw honey has additional benefits.
  • Gut Health Connection: With prebiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and antimicrobial properties, raw honey supports a happy digestive system.
  • Heart-Healthy Friend: Its antioxidants and potential cholesterol-controlling effects make honey an amazing tool for maintaining cardiovascular health.
  • Fitness Ally: Whether it’s energizing you pre-workout or aiding your recovery post-exercise, honey makes an excellent fitness ally. It’s got quick-digesting carbs (natural sugars), minerals, and various bioactive compounds, all of which support energy production, fitness adaptations, and replenishment.
  • Thyroid Support: The natural sugars in honey support the liver’s ability to convert T4 into T3, drop stress levels in the body, and blunt stress responses outright.
  • Versatility: Honey’s versatile nature allows it to easily fit into recipes, remedies, and fitness routines. There’s essentially no prep or peeling involved; eat a spoonful straight from the jar, or stir into water and drink.

I hope this article has inspired you to embrace raw honey’s potential to improve your health in some way, whether you’re looking to soothe a cough, improve digestion, support your cardiovascular function, enhance your fitness, raise your metabolism, or lower your stress.

So go on, explore the sweet world of raw honey. Your taste buds, your body, and even the bees will buzz with joy!

For more valuable insights on eating balanced diet and living a healthy lifestyle, don’t hesitate to explore my other articles on health.

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