Choosing from the abundance of honey products available on the market can be overwhelming at times. There’s no shortage of brands and varieties to choose from, and all of them come with their own unique benefits and attributes. The two honey varieties we’ll be pitting against each other in today’s article, however, is the highly-coveted Manuka honey vs raw honey.
In short, the primary difference between Manuka honey vs raw honey is that Manuka honey has greater medicinal properties due to its Methylglyoxal (MGO) content, despite being pasteurized and filtered. Raw honey, on the other hand, is not processed at all, therefore it contains more pollen, enzymes and antioxidants.
Continue on for a more in-depth analysis.
What Is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is a monofloral honey produced from the nectar of Manuka trees (Leptospermum scoparium), which are native to New Zealand.
It is produced much in the same way that other honey products are in that it’s harvested from beehives and then pasteurized and filtered in order to remove any unwanted bacteria or debris.
Once processed, it is poured into bottles and shipped out for consumption all over the world.
What Makes Manuka Honey So Special?
Manuka honey has become increasingly popular for its unique medicinal properties that surpass other types of honey.
What’s special about Manuka honey vs raw honey is that it contains high levels of Methylglyoxal (MGO). This compound can be found in most types of honey, but concentrations are usually very low. In Manuka honey, however, the levels are much higher due to the Manuka tree’s pollen.
True Manuka honey comes only from Manuka trees native to New Zealand and must be certified by UMF for authenticity.
The Methylglyoxal in Manuka honey is what’s mostly responsible for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it effective in treating wounds, digestive disorders and skin conditions.
What Is Raw Honey?
Raw honey is, quite simply, honey that has not been pasteurized or filtered. This means that it still contains all of the pollen, enzymes and antioxidants that are present in the nectar collected by the bees.
The process of making raw honey is exactly the same as that of Manuka honey, with the main difference being that raw honey does not go through a filtration or pasteurization process before being bottled.
Raw honey is usually sold directly from the beekeeper, who will bottle it straight from the hive.
What Makes Raw Honey So Special?
Raw honey is often seen as being more beneficial than other types of honey because it retains all of the pollen, enzymes and antioxidants that are normally killed off during pasteurization.
It is widely believed (anecdotally) that eating raw honey from local beekeepers can help alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies, due primarily to its local pollen content. However, there is scant evidence to support this claim.
Manuka Honey VS Raw Honey
Now that you have a brief introduction to these two types of honey, let’s see how they compare to each other in a variety of ways.
Differences In Appearance
The first difference you may notice in Manuka honey vs raw honey is their appearance.
Manuka honey looks more like the regular honey you’d see on grocery store shelves. However, it has a thicker, creamier consistency and a more opaque color.
Raw honey, on the other hand, tends to be more viscous with a dark, cloudy amber color.
This is due to how the honey is processed. The pasteurization and ultrafiltration of Manuka honey kills off lots of enzymes, pollen, bacteria, and it removes unwanted debris as well. This results in a more refined honey with more consistency.
Raw honey, on the other hand, is not pasteurized or filtered at all. Because of that, it retains a darker, cloudier appearance due to the pollen content.
How They Taste
Another area where these two honey varieties differ is in how they taste.
Manuka honey is known for being less sweet than traditional honey. It also has a thicker, creamier consistency.
According to the Manuka Doctor website:
“It has a natural level of sweetness with a slight woody taste due to the high level of phenolic acids which are antioxidants.” – manukadoctor.co.uk
As for raw honey, the taste is more comparable with regular honey, although it does have a richer and more complex flavor. This is believed to be because of the lack of processing.
Raw honey also has a thicker, more viscous consistency than regular honey.
How They’re Used
One of the biggest differences between Manuka honey vs raw honey is how they’re used.
Manuka honey is scarce and costly, therefore it tends to be used more sparingly– mostly in a medicinal context.
Manuka honey is commonly used in a variety of ways, including:
- As an FDA-approved treatment for wound healing
- Treating burns
- Soothing a sore throat
- Relief from Eczema and Psoriasis
- Made into beauty products such as face scrubs, soaps and shampoos
- Made into gummies, capsules, tinctures, and various health supplements
Raw honey, on the other hand, does not contain the same medicinal properties as Manuka honey (namely MGO) and is therefore used in more of a dietary way, including:
- As a sweetener for teas and beverages
- As a natural sweetener in baking recipes
- As a spread for toast, bagels and muffins
- Sweetening oatmeals and yogurt parfaits
- As a dip for fresh fruit
- Can also be used in face washes, soaps and hair treatments
As far as baking and recipes go, neither Manuka nor raw honey are a great alternative to regular honey. This is due to the differences in taste, texture and consistency.
The difference in nutrition facts between Manuka honey vs raw honey is negligible at best.
A single 1-tbsp serving of Manuka honey contains the following:
- Calories: 70
- Total Carbohydrates: 17g
- Total Sugar: 15g
On the other hand, a similar serving size of raw honey contains:
- Calories: 64
- Total Carbohydrates: 17g
- Total Sugar: 16g
As you can see, they’re nearly identical in terms of macronutrients. The main nutritional difference between the two is that Manuka honey contains the medicinal property Methylglyoxal (MGO).
Raw honey, on the other hand, contains pollen, enzymes and antioxidants that are otherwise killed off in the pasteurization and filtration process that Manuka honey goes through.
As we previously went over, Manuka honey is good for treating wounds, digestive disorders and skin conditions.
Honey in general has various medicinal properties, though. And those benefits are also present in raw honey. In fact, some studies found these effects to be more intense in raw honey (although it should be noted that other studies have found no difference between raw and regular honey.)
The health benefits of honey are plentiful. According to a 2017 review published to PubMed, the advantages to be reaped include:
- The treatment of diabetes mellitus
- It may exert anticancer effects through several mechanisms
- Reducing asthma-related symptoms
Additionally, honey (both Manuka and raw) contains antioxidants, flavonoids and polyphenols that may be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
One major difference between Manuka honey and raw honey is their price.
Raw honey can be purchased in grocery stores and marketplaces for roughly the same price as regular honey. The mass-production and manufacturing of raw honey helps to keep its costs down. However, sourcing local raw honey through a local beekeeper may prove more costly.
Manuka honey, on the other hand, is significantly more expensive and can cost as much as $70 USD for a small jar. This is mostly due to the scarcity of Manuka honey, as it comes exclusively from Manuka trees in New Zealand, and then needs to be certified.
The production, shipping costs, and scarcity of Manuka honey compounds to drive its price through the roof.
Availability/Where To Buy?
Let’s address how to locate these two types of honey.
First off, raw honey is more widely accessible than Manuka honey is. It can be easily located in most grocery stores alongside traditional honey products. Additionally, it can be found in various online marketplaces, such as Amazon.
Local raw honey may prove more difficult to source, based on your region and the time of year. For local raw honey you will need to find a beekeeper in your area. Local farmers markets may be a good starting point.
Manuka honey is far more difficult to locate, seeing as how it is imported from New Zealand. It is recognized as more of a specialty product. Online marketplaces (such as Amazon) are probably your best bet, although you may be able to locate it in some specialty health food stores.
In conclusion, there are many differences between Manuka honey vs raw honey. From taste, texture, source, price, accessibility, and more; it is clear that these two honey varieties share far more differences than commonalities.
As far as which is preferable in terms of its benefits, the edge would have to go to Manuka honey as its MGO content has proven medicinal properties.
The pollen and enzymes in raw honey is believed to be beneficial, but until there is more evidence to support these claims, it’ll have to remain folklore.