You’ve seen the fancy jars in the organic section of your grocery store. But what the heck is manuka honey (and is it worth the exorbitant price tag)? We investigate.
What is manuka honey? Manuka (pronounced mah-NOO-ka) honey comes from bees that pollinate the manuka bush, which grows primarily in New Zealand and also in Australia. It has an earthy flavor and a thicker texture than regular honey but can pretty much be used in exactly the same way. (We like to add a few tablespoons to whipped cream.)
And why is it trending? While all honey has some antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (thanks to the presence of hydrogen peroxide), manuka honey also contains a high concentration of methylglyoxal, which makes its antibiotic properties stronger. Studies have shown that manuka honey can treat minor wounds and burns, as well as help fight infection and promote healing. Advocates also claim that it can reduce cholesterol, treat diabetes and prevent cancer, but there is no evidence to support this.
Where can I buy it? You can find good quality manuka honey online and at health food stores, but it doesn’t come cheap (an eight-ounce jar can set you back $20 or more). And pay attention to the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating—a scale that honey producers have developed for rating the honey’s potency. For best results, experts say to look out for a UMF rating of 10 or more on the label.
Anything else? Manuka honey may have a few more benefits than your standard honey, but keep in mind that it’s still sugar (so you know, don’t go crazy with it). And if you’re allergic to bees, talk to your doctor before giving manuka honey a try.