As you have probably heard, sugar is now evil and should be avoided at all costs.
The growing sugar fear has propelled a rapid rise in the popularity of alternative sweeteners, like agave nectar, maple syrup and various other sugar-free sweeteners. And have you noticed sweet little dates and figs are becoming more popular these days?
But to take care of that persistent sweet tooth, all of the above sweeteners might just pale in comparison to honey. Not just any honey, though. It has to be manuka honey—produced from the nectar of the manuka tree.
A bit more about it:
Manuka honey is produced by European honey bees who forage on the manuka tree, a tree grown in New Zealand and southeastern Australia. It’s more viscous in texture and traditionally darker in colour than other honeys. In general, darker honeys have higher mineral contents (potassium, magnesium, iron, sodium) than lighter ones, as well as higher antioxidant levels.
Not only is manuka honey a great substitute for less healthy sugar, it even has health benefits. In fact, it’s commonly sold as an alternative medicine—specifically for its antibacterial properties.
Here are 6 other known health benefits:
- Good for your teeth?
What? A sweetener that’s good for the teeth? Apparently.
There have been multiple studies that suggest Manuka honey helps prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease, mostly because of its antimicrobial powers. Specifically, research from the School of Dentistry at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that manuka honey led to a 35 percent decrease in plaque, as well as a 35 percent decrease in bleeding in gingivitis patients. Read more about the study here: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15125017)
- Good for your stomach and gut:
Manuka honey’s antibacterial qualities are believed to help with small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), as well as acid reflux and intestinal imbalances. In fact, this 2013 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669629/) found that a dangerous bacteria called Clostridium—which is associated with both SIBO and acid reflux—was found to be susceptible to Manuka honey’s bactericidal effects.
- Good for your skin:
Specifically, there’s evidence that it helps with acne and eczema. Those who use it to treat acne and eczema have found it helps to rub the honey right onto their skin, leave it there for a few minutes and then rinse it off. Worth a try if you’re a chronic eczema-sufferer, perhaps?
- Good for burns and wounds:
Research from the Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products suggests manuka honey can improve wound-healing, as well as provide pain relief for burns. Read more here: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941901/)
- Good for allergies
Research from Finland’s South Karelia Allergy and Environmental Institute found that honey helps allergy-sufferers in a significant way. Participants in the study reported a 60 percent decrease in their symptoms, as well as 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms, all the while taking half the amount of antihistamines as the controlled group. Pretty scientifically significant!
- Good for your sleep
Add honey to your nighttime tea, and it apparently helps the body release melatonin to the brain, which helps you sleep more restfully.
All interesting stuff, but before you get too excited thinking that adding manuka honey to your diet will not only satiate your sweet tooth, but will also make your skin look pretty, keep your gut healthy and help you sleep through the night, be warned: It is NOT cheap! A 300-500 gram bottle can cost between $45 and $60… So use it sparingly and enjoy every last gram.