By Jill Levy
Among the many types of honeys produced around the world, manuka honey is unique because it’s only found in New Zealand. It’s a source of vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants, and consuming it in even small-to-moderate amounts is, in general, a great way to support digestive, gut and immune health.
Like other types of high-quality honeys (such as raw, unpasteurized honey that’s made in your local community), manuka honey tastes delicious.
At Ancient Nutrition, we use manuka to naturally sweeten our Ancient Origins Grass-Fed Collagen products. It also makes a good addition to a variety of different recipes you probably already make at home, both sweet and savory.
What Is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is produced only in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium).
This type of honey has been produced since the 1830s, when European honey bees made their way over to NZ. While its health-promoting properties have been known in traditional Maori health practices since this time (‘manuka’ is a Maori word and considered intellectual property of NZ), it wasn’t until the 1980s that manuka gained an international following — as researchers learned that manuka nectar held beneficial compounds.
Today, it’s used to help support overall health in several ways due to manuka’s impressive nutrient profile. Overall, it’s especially prized for its ability to promote a healthy immune system and healthy aging.
The health-promoting effects of honey depends on the specific type of honey, where it’s harvested and how it’s processed. Not only does raw/unpasteurized Manuka honey have an appealing taste, it provides an array of nutrients that can generally help support healthy immune function.
Manuka is especially high in compounds such as methylglyoxal (MGO) and hydrogen peroxide, as well as B vitamins, amino acids and certain trace minerals like calcium and copper. These compounds and nutrients have led manuka honey to be associated with a long list of health benefits.
Naturally occurring MGO is a key compound in manuka honey that makes it so different from other kinds of conventional honey, since MGO is believed to support the health of certain tissues and general metabolic function.
Raw manuka honey features:
- Methylglyoxal (MGO)
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Amino acids
- B vitamins (B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid)
The amount of manuka honey that you should aim to consume as part of an overall diet ranges depending on both your nutritional needs and health goals. To make the most of its nutrient and carbohydrate content, it’s best to include it in your diet along with quality sources of protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Consuming manuka honey can increase your intake of immune-supporting nutrients, considering it’s high in antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.
Below are some of the health benefits that have been associated with manuka honey:
1. Can Be Beneficial for Digestion and Detoxification
Manuka can help to promote healthy digestion by supporting the growth of “friendly” probiotic bacteria in the gut and by potentially aiding in the normal production of stomach acid. This translates to support of healthy immune function and detoxification.
2. Promotes Dental Health
Manuka may help to promote health of the gums and teeth by aiding in the balance of “good guy” and “bad guy” bacteria living in the mouth and GI tract. Certain minerals found in raw honey such as calcium, zinc and phosphorus can also be supportive of healthy teeth.
3. Supports Skin Health (When Used Topically)
Raw honey has long been used to help keep the skin healthy thanks to its antioxidant content and ability to keep “good guy” bacteria thriving, which supports the overall health of the skin.
4. May Promote Restful Sleep
Manuka can be used to promote restful deep sleep, thanks to its ability to release the glycogen needed for essential bodily functions during sleep. For the same reason, it can also be used prior to workouts and afterwards to supply the body with needed carbohydrates.
There are plenty of ways you can take advantage of manuka honey’s potential benefits, including by enjoying our new Ancient Origins Grass-fed Collagen products, which are made with ingredients entirely sourced from New Zealand.
Ancient Origins Grass-fed Collagen is available in three flavors: Chocolate Brownie, Honey Vanilla, and Golden Milk. All flavors are sweetened with real New Zealand manuka honey along with monk fruit to keep overall sugar content down.
Here are some of the key features of the manuka honey used in Ancient Origins Grass-fed Collagen:
- Manuka honey powder
- Produced and packed in New Zealand
- Igen Non-GMO Certified
- Made without antibiotics, glyphosate and pesticides, which are rarely used in NZ due to strict standards
- Traceable “from hive to home,” meaning that beekeepers ensure its quality
- Has a rich, earthy flavor, providing natural sweetness
How else can you use manuka honey at home? Try adding a bit to salad dressings or marinades to boost the flavor, or to your favorite smoothies, oatmeal or homemade “energy bites.” Additionally, manuka honey can be used in face masks and other skincare products to support overall skin health.
Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.