Raw Honey vs Commercially Processed Honey

Hawaiian Honey

What’s the difference between Raw Honey and commercially processed honey? To be able to answer this question you first need to know what raw honey is. 

Raw honey is honey in its purest form. This honey has not been altered by being heated or pasteurized. Raw honey can be cut directly from honeycomb and consumed as comb honey. Otherwise, the honey is strained to remove impurities like beeswax and dead bees. Then, the honey can be bottled and is ready to eat and enjoy. 

Commercially Processed Honey

Commercially processed honey goes through several more steps before it is ready to be bottled. Processing honey can involve the following steps:

Pasteurization is a heat treatment which destroys microorganisms and pathogens. 

Commercially processed honey is pasteurized to slow down the granulation or crystallization process. This is a naturally occurring process. Honey is pasteurized to ensure it remains in a liquid state for a longer period of time. There is no real benefit to the honey remaining in a liquid state. Crystallized honey is safe to eat. However, there seems to be consumer preference for liquid honey, especially in the USA. 

Raw Honey

Pasteurization also destroys any yeast cells present in the honey. This prevents fermentation.

  • Filtration

This process involves refining the honey by removing pollen and other foreign matter. Filtration makes the honey clearer. Clear honey is usually more visually pleasing for consumers. 

  • Ultrafiltration

Ultra-filtration is carried out by adding water to honey, filtering the honey/water mixture, then ultra-filtering the solution by passing it through a membrane. Finally, the added water is removed. This process removes proteins from honey. It makes the honey virtually colorless. After honey is ultra-filtered it is often used as a sweetener in other products. Ultra-filtered honey has been shown to have less enzyme activity. 

Which honey is better?

Raw honey contains more pollen. Bee pollen has anti-fungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. The filtration process conducted on most processed honey removes most bee pollen from the honey.

The heating and filtering processes performed on commercially processed honey can remove helpful enzymes from honey. One such enzyme is glucose oxidase. This enzyme helps produce molecules that give honey its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. it could remove these properties.

There is some speculation that heating honey destroys the antioxidants usually found in raw honey. Unfortunately, there are very few scientific studies which compare raw and processed honey. More research is needed to demonstrate the impact of these processes on antioxidant levels in honey. 

However, there is a lot of information to indicate that heating vegetables and other foods destroys their antioxidant properties. So, maybe, there is some truth in the idea that raw honey has more antioxidants.

Raw honey is honey in its most natural form. Commercially processed honey has undergone many steps which have altered the honey from its natural state. Most research indicates raw honey has more natural benefits than processed honey. Why not try some Raw Hawaiian Honey and see for yourself?!

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