We are all increasingly looking at ways we can use more natural products to consume, products that do not include added sugars, preservatives or any other unknown ingredients hidden inside. In a world of focus on healthy living it can be difficult to know which products we can trust and which products will have the highest benefit for us.
There are many products that hold themselves high in the claims of being good for us, but only the select few have the most benefits that can not only be used in everyday life but used to treat a range of diseases and ailments.
We are celebrating the wonder food known as Manuka Honey, since its incredible launch into the mainstream and the minds of consumers it has become the ‘must have’ product of the last 5 years. Consumers now flock to buy it in its many available forms, widely known for its purity and numerous health benefits.
Manuka Honey is produced by European honey bees who collect the all important pollen from the Manuka or tea tree. The European bees were introduced to keep up with demand and to ensure an ample supply of the amber nectar could be foraged.
Although predominantly grown in New Zealand and Australia, New Zealand hold the title of the biggest exporter. Growth of the product for export has been considerable over the last few years, with exports expecting to reach $1.2 billion by 2028. The UK are the second largest importer from New Zealand, accountable for over $46 million of the business.
The honey is typically dark brown in colour and is often characterized by its strong flavour; many describing it as earthy, herbaceous, rich and complex. The winning combination certainly make it stand out against other products in both colour and taste.
All honey varieties usually consist of 80% sugars and 17% water with the remaining component made up of enzymes, organic acid and minerals. All are regulated under these components but levels of enzymes and minerals can vary by product. To be classified as ‘Manuka honey’ at least 70% of the pollen it is made from has to derive from the Manuka Tree.
It is measured by a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), a global standard in identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength. The higher the strength the more nutrients it contains. The UMF logo should be clearly marked on the produce label, along with the rating it has been given.
Ratings range from 4-9 (Contains general health benefits), 10-14 (Contains a higher quantity of anti-bacterial) and 15+ with 15+ holding the most superior amount of nutrients. As the antibacterial properties are so potent at this level, we are advised to take only 1 tbsp at a time.
What makes Manuka so important for health? It has a considerably higher level of enzymes and phenols than regular products. The specific collection of enzymes create a natural form of hydrogen peroxide that work as an antibacterial both when taken internally and externally. It is easy to see why we want to buy this nutrient dense food.
It is currently used to treat a diverse range of diseases; from stomach ulcers, tonsillitis, sinusitis, common coughs and colds and more importantly it has been used to treat scalds and burns. Recovery from burn injuries have been greatly improved, showing how potent the anti-bacterial properties of this product are.
It has become increasingly easier to buy, although ensuring you buy a UMF measured product ensures you buy the real thing. Looking out for the UMF logos and choosing the ideal strength for you will mean you are putting the authentic product in your shopping basket. We are no doubt convinced the health food sector will continue to support this wonder food.