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Manuka honey is a popular natural sweetener known for its unique flavor and potential health benefits. It can be used as a sugar substitute and enjoyed as part of a healthy eating plan. However, it is important to use manuka honey in moderation, especially for individuals with certain health conditions like diabetes, due to its high sugar and calorie content.
Manuka Honey Nutrition Facts
The nutritional information for one tablespoon (21 grams) of manuka honey, according to the USDA, is as follows:
| Nutrient | Amount |
| Calories | 64 |
| Fat | 0g |
| Sodium | 0mg |
| Carbohydrates | 17g |
| Fiber | 0g |
| Sugars | 17g |
| Protein | 0.1g |
| Potassium| 10.9mg |
| Iron | 0.1mg |
| Calcium | 1.3mg |
The calories in manuka honey primarily come from carbohydrates, specifically sugar. The sugar in manuka honey is composed of approximately 50% glucose and 50% fructose. The glycemic index of manuka honey is estimated to be around 60, which is slightly lower than the glycemic index of table sugar (sucrose) at 65. This means that manuka honey may have a slightly lower impact on blood sugar levels compared to table sugar.
Manuka honey does not contain any fat.
While manuka honey does contain trace amounts of protein, it is not a significant source of this nutrient and does not contribute significantly to your daily protein requirements.
Vitamins and Minerals
Manuka honey may contain various vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, and zinc. The specific content of these nutrients can vary depending on the location where the honey is produced and how it is processed. Generally, darker varieties of manuka honey tend to have higher levels of vitamins and minerals compared to lighter varieties. However, since manuka honey is usually consumed in small amounts, it does not significantly contribute to meeting your daily vitamin and mineral needs.
One tablespoon of manuka honey provides approximately 64 calories, most of which come from carbohydrates in the form of sugar.
Health Benefits of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey has been associated with several potential health benefits. However, it is important to consider these benefits in relation to the high sugar content of honey and use it in moderation. It is also worth noting that the amounts of honey used in scientific studies may not always be equivalent to the quantities typically consumed in everyday life.
- Soothing Coughs
Research suggests that manuka honey may help alleviate cough symptoms. A review of six studies conducted on children with coughs found that a spoonful of honey was as effective in suppressing coughs as dextromethorphan, a common cough suppressant found in over-the-counter medications. In fact, honey was found to be more effective than Benadryl or no treatment. Additionally, honey was shown to provide longer relief compared to Albuterol, a medication used to treat coughs caused by asthma.
- Promoting Regularity
Limited studies have suggested that manuka honey may have a positive impact on the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers believe that the phytochemicals and flavonoids present in honey may aid digestive processes in the body. While these studies show promising results, more research is needed to fully support this benefit.
- Supporting Reproductive Health
Royal jelly, a type of honey, has been found to have various effects on female reproductive health. It has been shown to reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause. The antioxidants present in royal jelly may help reduce oxidative damage associated with aging of the ovaries. Animal studies have also suggested that royal jelly may improve sperm quality in men, although further research is needed to confirm this effect in humans.
- Aiding Wound Healing
Propolis, a component of manuka honey, has been found to promote wound healing. It has antimicrobial properties and can suppress the activity of free radicals, as well as stimulate collagen synthesis. These properties make propolis beneficial for wound healing, particularly in cases of diabetic foot ulcers and certain types of acne when applied topically.
- Potential Cancer-Reducing Properties
Studies have shown that manuka honey may impact the development of cancer at various stages of the disease. In test-tube studies, honey has been found to induce cell death in tumor cells, reduce inflammation, and inhibit tumor growth. However, more research is needed to determine the effects of honey on cancer in humans.
Allergies and Adverse Effects
Manuka honey is not a common allergen. However, rare cases of anaphylaxis caused by honey consumption have been reported. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction mediated by immunoglobulin E (IgE). Additionally, propolis, a component of honey, can cause contact allergies in individuals involved in the collection of honey. If you suspect an allergy to honey, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider for a proper evaluation.
It is worth noting that the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against giving honey to babies during the first year of life due to the potential risk of botulism, a rare but serious illness caused by bacterial spores found in honey.
Varieties of Manuka Honey
There are over 300 varieties of honey in the United States, each originating from unique flower sources and different climate conditions. Some popular varieties include clover honey, wildflower honey, orange blossom honey, buckwheat honey, avocado honey, and alfalfa honey. Manuka honey can be purchased raw or pasteurized.
Raw manuka honey is directly sourced from the beehive and undergoes minimal processing or heating. It retains its natural properties and is often preferred by those seeking the potential health benefits associated with honey consumption. The calorie content of raw honey is the same as pasteurized varieties.
Pasteurized honey is filtered and processed to create a clear-looking product that is easier to package and pour. This process may eliminate some of the trace minerals and enzymes that are associated with the potential health benefits of honey. When purchasing honey, look for the label “pure honey” to ensure that no other substances were added during processing.
Storage and Food Safety
To maintain the quality and safety of manuka honey, it should be stored below 32 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent crystallization and changes in color and aroma. While honey is naturally antimicrobial, it should be protected from outside moisture to prevent spoilage.
The general recommendation for the shelf-life of honey is two years, although this may vary depending on the specific product. Using airtight and sanitized containers can help preserve the shelf-life and safety of honey.
How to Incorporate Manuka Honey into Your Diet
Manuka honey is a versatile sweetener that can be used in various culinary applications. Here are some tips on how to incorporate manuka honey into your diet:
- Sweetening Beverages: Add a spoonful of manuka honey to your tea, coffee, or smoothies for a natural sweet taste.
- Drizzling: Drizzle manuka honey over yogurt, oatmeal, or fresh fruit for added sweetness and flavor.
- Marinades and Glazes: Use manuka honey as an ingredient in marinades and glazes for meats, vegetables, and roasted dishes.
- Baking: Replace granulated sugar with manuka honey in baked goods like cakes, cookies, and muffins. Keep in mind that honey has a stronger flavor and higher moisture content, so adjustments may be needed in the recipe.
- Salad Dressings: Create homemade salad dressings by combining manuka honey with vinegar, olive oil, and your choice of herbs and spices.
Remember to use manuka honey in moderation due to its high sugar and calorie content. It is also important to consider any dietary restrictions or medical conditions that may require you to limit your intake of sugar and carbohydrates.
Manuka honey is a delicious natural sweetener that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy eating plan. It offers potential health benefits, including soothing coughs, promoting regularity, supporting reproductive health, aiding wound healing, and potentially reducing the risk of cancer. However, it is important to use manuka honey in moderation, especially if you have diabetes or other health conditions that require you to limit your sugar and carbohydrate intake.
When purchasing manuka honey, opt for raw varieties to ensure that you are getting the maximum nutritional benefits. Proper storage and food safety practices are also essential to maintain the quality of manuka honey. By incorporating manuka honey into your diet in creative ways, you can enjoy its unique flavor and potential health benefits while still maintaining a balanced and nutritious eating plan.
Remember to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any specific dietary concerns or questions about incorporating manuka honey into your diet.