Honey may not be what it claims to be. And you may be paying for it.

The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Honey

In All Health Watch, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article by INH Research60 Comments

It takes 12 honeybees their entire lives to make a single teaspoon of pure honey. That’s a lot of work.  But it’s worth it. The final product is one of the healthiest substances on the planet.

Honey can kill bacteria, viruses, and even fungi. It lowers your cholesterol and overall inflammation—two of the leading risk factors for heart disease in the United States.

But it has a dark side. Don’t let that cute little plastic bear at the grocery store fool you.

You’ve seen the labels with “pure Grade-A honey” printed on them. Well brace yourself… Because they usually don’t mean a thing.

Most honey hides big secrets that put your health at risk and should make you furious. So what exactly are the dangers? Should you swear off honey for good?  And if not, what kind is safe to eat?

Let’s take a closer look…

Plain and simple, most honey on sale in the United States is fake.

A sampling of over 60 varieties shows that 76 percent of honey bought in U.S. groceries isn’t actually honey. It doesn’t even contain pollen.1

So, what is this stuff you’re buying as a “healthier” sugar substitute?

It’s another processed product stripped of nutritional value. Processing honey removes its pollen, antioxidants, and nutrients. What you are left with is sweet syrup.

Honey manufacturers say removing pollen helps the shelf life of the product and makes it impossible to trace where it came from. They also say clear honey just looks more appealing.

Unbelievably, they also add in artificial sweeteners and corn syrup to cut costs and make a sweeter product.2

Once again, it’s “shelf” over “health.” The food industry doesn’t care if the product is harmful as long as it has a profitable shelf life.

Even worse, Chinese honey—which can be full of antibiotics—makes its way illegally into some of the honey in the United States3

The good news is that honey has tremendous healing power if you eat the right kind…

Most organic honey, like that from Brazil, tends to have a lot of pollen in it. This means that it hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized and will actually provide some kind of nutrition to you.

But if you want to get the most health benefits, you can do even better.

Go raw.

Raw, organic honey is your healthiest option at the grocery store.

It’s easy to tell the difference between raw and processed. Raw honey is cloudy and solid at room temperature. This is the honey that’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal.

It’s full of B-vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. It helps prevents coughs and colds.4 Studies show raw honey even reduces allergy symptoms by 60 percent.5

So what kind do we recommend? Manuka honey. It comes from New Zealand and contains the highest amount of methylglyoxal, the healing compound found in most varieties of honey.6 In fact, it is so powerful, manuka honey is actually considered medicinal grade.

Unlike prescription drugs, manuka’s antibiotic properties don’t lead to the creation of antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs.” That doesn’t mean you can eat it by the jar. Remember it’s still a sugary sweetener. Try just a teaspoon of raw honey as an after dinner treat. Believe us, it’s plenty sweet.

Raw honey is not without its risks. If you are severely allergic to pollen, raw honey can cause a strong reaction. Be sure to get your raw honey from an organic source to lessen the risk of food poisoning.

Try adding raw honey to your tea for sweetness and an extra boost of antioxidants. If you want to melt it a bit, submerge your sealed jar of honey in a pot filled with hot water from the faucet. Always buy organic, local varieties and get manuka honey when you can.

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1 http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/11/tests-show-most-store-honey-isnt-honey/#.UnfUyPl4zKd
2 http://www.naturalnews.com/042684_counterfeit_honey_spices_food_myths.html
3 http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/02/honeygate-sting-leads-to-charges-for-illegal-chinese-honey-importation/#.Unf96Pl4zKc
4 http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/raw-honey-liquid-gold-in-your-pantry-03262013
5 http://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/319821
6 http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/manuka-honey-medicinal-uses


  1. I’ve been using honey instead of sugar eg. in coffee for some time believing it to be healthier.
    I have tried Manuka honey but learnt that most of it is fake. There is a finite quantity of Manuka honey produced, it only comes from bees in New Zealand using pollen from the Manuka tree. The world consumption of, supposedly, Manuka honey is x multiple times the limited production. For example most European countries, including England, France, Germany, Italy each annually consumes more Manuka honey than the entire New Zealand product.

    1. u mean this Ian ? I have been paying 40E per 1kg of Manuka honey here in Holland for like 3 or 4 times ? it says they even have guarantee 100% that it is true Manuka honey from NZ!?!??! cant believe this !?!?

      1. To know if Manuka Honey is genuine is to look for the UMF label. Also, Manuka Honey website has a list of suppliers:


        I made the mistake of buying Manuka Honey from Vitamin Shoppe that had no UMF label. It has to be there to be considered genuine.

    2. I have to say you I have no idea what you are talking about manuka honey from NZ is not the only active honey out there.In Australia we have active honey which call call jelly bush or manuka.There is other research out there on other types of trees that also produce active honey.If you are looking for good honey check what we produce in Australia,we have such a wide range of trees here.

  2. Like a lot of information, there is truth and error in the published result. Firstly, what is meant by processed? The beekeeper “processes” his honey just by extracting it from the combs.Then it needs to be strained as the first process leaves a lot of bits of cappings wax mixed in. If he sells it retail then each jurisdiction will have standards which he will have to meet. So, by now we have gone through 3 processes.
    Not all honey will solidify. I have had pure jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) in stock for 4 years without it candying, winter or summer and some other types will do the same. Conversely, honey from canola or capeweed will be solid in a few days.
    Incidentally, Western Australian jarrah honey has a higher anti bacterial level than does manuka but just because a label says “manuka honey” or “jarrah honey” it doesn’t mean that you are getting maximum benefit as it has to be tested for % activity and the beekeeper gets paid accordingly.
    Levels of activity vary dramatically between production areas.
    Need any more info?

      1. Bernie.
        No I can’t name specific brands because I don’t know where you live. I live in Western Australia but am typing this in Swaziland just now. The honey here, I would expect, should be as good as any available anywhere but I don’t know what happens to any that maybe exported once it reaches its destination.
        So the short answer is “NO”

    1. thank you for putting that info out there for people to read there isn’t to many things out there anymore that
      haven’t been adulterated, I never thought about honey. It’s totally disgusting!I was raised on a farm in Alberta
      we had bees growing up we would sometimes eat the raw liquid honey right from the hive. l bought 50 lbs 5 yrs ago from a friend that keeps bees I have about 1/4 it is still so perfect .Remember the honey that was found in the Egyptian tombs was still good. Hmm? unadulterated, of course, but that was before we learned to process, pasteurize and medicate everything to death and take the goodness out of just about everything we eat SCARY
      Thanks again for putting that info out there people really need to know
      XOXO Syl

      1. Hi Sylvia,

        I’ve been searching for real honey for my little son but couldn’t find any…can you please tell me what’s the name of the honey you bought or where can i find that honey in Alberta?

        I’m living in Canada as well. Thank you so much!!

        1. Hi, I live in SK and have a hobby bee farm. All of my honey is organically managed and never heated at all. I have ten hives so my honey is somewhat scarce. I have family in Grand Prarie, Edmonton and Crows nest Pass. Let me know if you’re still searching.


    2. Hi Stan,
      thank you for some info on Honey. I am from malaysia and one can find all types of honey, including Manuka ( of various grades), mainly mainly from Australia. Most if not all, say “pure Australian Honey”. I have relatives residing in Perth Australia and was lucky to have been brought to a bee farm where we purchased WINDARRA JARRAH Honey from W Australia. Is this the Jarrah honey you were mentioning about pls?
      TQ in advance.

  3. Obviously, I totally agree! Raw honey has been around for thousands of years. It has vitamins and minerals and not many calories. It can be used in cooking (although heating raw honey would render the vitamins and minerals useless) or eaten right off the spoon! Each raw honey has a different flavor. Come visit my website. It is very unique. Kind of like a wine club. – Debbie

    1. What’s your website, sounds interesting. I like Kalla’s Raw Honey, it is thick and cream colored. They also have honeys from different plants, like clover, etc. produced in Wisconsin. Heard it was beneficial to eat honey from your locality to help with allergies. Have been eating it and adding some organic cinnamon daily, give to kids, not baby, she will be 1 year the end of November. How long should I wait to give to her to be safe, do you know?

      1. Mary,

        When our kids were born we lived in a large caravan and camped wherever we had moved the bees to in Western Australia. The kids had honey from day 1 when they were old enough to eat. But nobody had told us that there is a risk until the kids had developed immunity. They never suffered (until our son aged 20 months knocked over a beehive) but it is a precaution and you are wise to follow the recommendation.

  4. Don’t believe every thing you read. These people don’t know what they are talking about. Raw Honey [honey that has not been overheated]straight from a local beekeeper is the best. Sue Bee Honey is second. Sue packs nothing but 100% USA produced honey & checks all honey in their lab before it is packed. All other packers in the US & abroad blend our good USA honey with honey from China which has been proven to have chemicals in it. So if you want good honey the buy from a local beekeeper like myself or go to the store for Sue Bee brand honey. ( Sue Bee also sells to Sams Club)

  5. I buy Trader Joe’s organic raw honey. It says product of Mexico. I have to assume it’s the real stuff.

  6. I hear and agree with most of these comments. It is most unfortunate that honey is spoiled by money grabbing enterprises. It is a shame that names like “Manuka” and “Jarrah” are being abused by these knaves.
    For these reasons I buy 20 ltr. of pure honey straight from the hive. I’ve also just embarked on a small apiary in order to keep my children (orphanage)in daily supply.
    I tremble at the thought of what GMO grown crops are doing to our bee population. And to us the consumer. If honey nutritional quality and quantity is affected by the quality and type of the tree, and it is, then it stands to reason that GMO will also affect the honey. I’m told that Australia is letting in GMO seeds into the country. Surely this will have a destructive effect on the bees, honey and consumer.
    It goes without saying that the beekeeper will also be unwillingly affected by these unwelcome factors.
    It’s a vicious circle

  7. I strongly disagree with this description of “Raw Honey”. Raw honey is not usually cloudy nor solid, only if it is granulating or granulated. Sourwood honey rarely granulates. All honey will granulate, some sooner than others and has nothing to do with it being raw. Nectar sourses are the main cause. Raw means it has not been pasteurized or heated to 160 degrees. Pasteurized would more accurately describe what the writer is trying to convey, not processed.

    I question the statement that organic honey will lessen the risk of food poisining. Botulism can be present in ALL honey regardless of whether organic or not. And, the quantity of pollen in honey would rarely cause an allergic reaction, especially if only 1 teaspoon is ingested daily.

    Lastly, the title of this article gives honey a black eye. It would have been more accurate had it been, The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Store Bought Honey. We hobbyist beekeepers selling local, raw, strained, quality, tasty local honey get tarred with the same brush as wholesale clubs and chain grocery and drug stores.

  8. I would just love to buy a good, quality raw, organic honey from an honest beekeeper. I live in windsor,ontario. Does anyone know of such a person or recommend a website? Thx

  9. If honey is extracted from the comb by heating it, or later pasteurised all the enzymes break down, and it loses its powers.
    Always make sure it is `cold centrifuged` honey.
    Honey is somehow best for you when it comes from plants in your own area!

  10. Trader Joe’s sells an Organic honey from Mexico, that is cloudy and solid at room temperature that I enjoy. I have also tried an Organic honey from Brazil that is called, Once Again Dawes Hill Killer Bee Honey, that has an interesting rich taste. The pharmaceutical grade honey from New Zealand has to be Manuka Honey Active 16+ or better. Less than that is not pharmaceutical. This honey will stop the skin eating disease from a Fiddler Spider bite. Great stuff for the insides too.

  11. YOu have a link to share this article on FB and when I used it the article to share was on Apple Cider Vinegar. Where is the article on Honey so I can share that one?

  12. If you truly want to reap all the benefits of honey, buy honey that is locally produced AND raw. Not only is supermarket honey usually from many different sources (I.e. countries that use chemicals that the US has banned) it is also heated to an extreme high temperature to prevent the granulation process from taking place on the grocery shelf. Most average consumers won’t buy honey if it is cloudy, “crunchy” or a solid. But in the effort to make it appealing to the masses they destroy most of the natural healthy properties found in raw honey.
    LOCALLY produced RAW honey will help with seasonal allergies to the plants in your local area. Not knocking manuka or any other type of honey produced elsewhere in the world, but your best bet is to find a reputable local beekeeper and but his raw product!

  13. Where can we buy Manuka honey in the Sacramento, CA,area (or Roseville, Folsom, Citrus Hts., all in CA)?????

  14. New Zealand honey is GM free cos all of NZ is GM free! So buy NZ free grass fed lamb and beef and our apples, especially Braeburn are the best. We only have to be careful with imported foods.

  15. Mr. van den Berg’s comment about heating honey before extracting strikes me as curious. If honey is heated enough to damage it while still in the comb, the wax would melt. I have never heard of anyone heating honey before extracting. Where is this being done? I might point out that, in my area, the ambient temperature is often more than 100 degrees during mid-summer and hive temperatures are usually 90+ degrees. Why would there be a need to heat a frame of unextracted honey?

    I agree, buy local, buy raw and know your beekeeper.

  16. Wherever you live, sonny, cultivate a local beekeeper who sells a straight line product. That way you’ll know that there is no adulteration and will have access to a variety of natural flavours.

  17. Be discerning about the organic label. Bees can forage up to three miles from the hive. Unless the beekeeper has complete control over the 28 square miles of environment, this is a difficult claim to make.

  18. So it’s okay steal honey from bees who spend their whole lives working just to make one teaspoon each?! Wow, humans’ self-induslgent never fails to amaze me. Well done, keep enslaving those bees. After all, your god created them just so you, superior human, can eat it.

    I hate humans and hate being one of them. Biggest shame of my life.

  19. Good article.
    The title however is misleading. It should probably be ‘the not-so-sweet truth about Supermarket Honey’ and not just honey because the honey is not at fault here, but FAKE honey is the issue.

  20. The very best honey is Buckwheat Honey. It’s very dark and it’s like a medicine. The hives are in Manitoba where there are lots of buckwheat fields. The main Ontario distributor who supplies the bee keepers who sell their own product is in Orangeville ON

  21. So after all my reading about honey I still don’t know what to buy. I want the benefits for my son but I don’t want to give him food poisoning. How many people actually get sick from organic raw honey? I used manuka honey on my mom’s bedsore and it was miraculous how fast it heals but want to use it internally as well, especially for the inflammation properties.

    1. I’m 67 and have yet to hear of anyone getting ill from raw honey or raw milk, But I’ve had a bout of food poison from graded meat, there are no guarantees in life, only odds, and odds are that your safer with raw honey than with most Dr.s.

  22. Treating digestion issues with honey has been done for centuries. Specifically, raw honey may be helpful with treating acid reflux. Honey may also help lower the specific bacteria associated with peptic ulcers, H. pylori.

  23. It is a shame that the medical profession is unwilling to promote the benefits of honey. I am confident that every country has a variety of honey that has remarkable health benefits, New Zealand has been very active in promoting manuka honey, while here in Western Australia, Jarrah honey offers remarkable health benefits. In biblical times one reads of people having their feet anointed – almost certainly with honey, herbal extracts, olive oil etc. A friend had been on a barrage of antibiotics for 3 months having contracted golden staph during an operation to replace his knee joints and the doctors were about to amputate his legs. Less than 24 hours after anointing his feet with Jarrah honey, all the swelling had gone down and he was discharged soon after. You can tell if Jarrah honey is the real thing as it does not crystallise. My theory behind this is that primitive man got all manner of preventative medicine – simply by crushing various plants beneath his bare feet as he walked or ran. You will taste the honey in your mouth a short time after application. Garlic can be applied in the same way. By entering the bloodstream directly, it appears that the the honey/garlic etc are more effective than when they pass through the digestive tract.

    1. It’s not about shame, it’s about the lack of integrity, and greed, most Drs would rather that you take pills, that they get a kickback from you buying them, they don’t make money from you using alternatives that they don’t prescribe, that’s the shame part for them. chances if anything is pasteurized, then just maybe, there is something wrong with the way it was collected or the source is in doubt ?

      1. Doctors get a kickback from chemotherapy drugs, not other kinds. The drug companies give them presents, including automobiles and luxury vacations, when they graduate (that I know of) and perhaps under other circumstances, but only chemo offers a percentage payoff to the doctor.

      2. As a beekeeper in Ohio with 3 hives, your comment that good quality honey is both cloudy and then turns solid at room temperature is just wrong. None of our honey is ever cloudy! None turns solid at room temperature. Our organic honey varies in color depending on flower bloom and extraction time. From very light color in spring early summer and tastes like flowers. To darker stronger tasting honey late summer and early fall. We do not sell our honey but give it as gifts. About 200 lbs per year. We do not blend extractions. We label it seasonally as spring, summer or fall.

  24. I spent all of June in China & bought a large jar of honey to use with my Fiancee`s cooking………AGHHHHHhhh……..it was dreadful…….I told her not to eat it…….luckily she has been helping her daughter in-law with a new baby in another city,so has not been home to eat it…….I must now warn her & make sure she doesn`t use it…..also to tell her family & friends…..thanks for the article.

  25. The USA sect is a hyper-aggressive militaristic expansionist
    totalitarian political system designed to create a micro-oligarchical
    ruling class with a massive destitute intellectually and physically
    handicapped underclass below. The faux “religious” façade of the sect
    was a stone cold specific con from the very beginning: a pure racket
    using borrowed (piggy-backed) and stolen hand-me-down religious motifs
    from the Middle Ages to give themselves (a tight loosely-knit network
    of crime syndicate cells) a semblance of credibility. That is the
    truth. The sect does not have another 8 years in its lifespan and by
    the grace of God is doomed to nuclear extinction as Prophecy
    indicates. It is in its own best interest that it goes extinct and
    also in the best interest of the world. The USA now exists to manage
    security risks caused by its own existence and expansion.

    The Washington DC corporation and paradigm with its next potential
    leadership is not treated by Christianity as a legitimate matrix
    worthy of discussion or engagement. It is a non-state enemy
    belligerent lacking legitimacy – masquerading and portraying itself as
    a “nation” and “national government.”

    Documentary: Protestantism’s Big Justification Lie: (http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/catholicchurch/justification-bible-faith-alone-refuted/ )

    Mary’s Sinlessness: A Biblical Documentary: (http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/catholicchurch/mary-bible/ )

    The Christian Foundations of the Papacy shown from the Bible: (http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/catholicchurch/st-peter-acts-15-bible-papacy/ )

    The Protestants are not Christians. They worship a false “christ.” Martin Luther said: “Christ committed adultery first of all with the women at the well about whom St. John tells us. Was not everybody about Him saying: ‘Whatever has He been doing with her?’ Secondly, with Mary Magdalen, and thirdly with the women taken in adultery whom He dismissed so lightly. Thus even, Christ who was so righteous, must have been guilty of fornication before He died.” ( Trishreden, Weimer Edition, Vol. 2, Pg. 107.) – What a great blasphemy from a man who is regarded as a “great reformer”!

    Babylon Has Fallen, Fallen!! – video:

    The Anti-Christ Identified! –

    Alert: Revelation 18:2 Just Happened – video:

    Is the World About To End The Apocalypse Explained – video:

    Apocalypse 17:8 Fulfilled – video

    The Third Secret of Fatima (3rd Edition)- video

    St. Malachy’s Prophecy of the Popes and Antipopes (3rd edition)- video

    There is No Salvation Outside the Church.

  26. Great rant Pater Noster, although I have no idea what it has to do with HONEY !!
    Would you be describing HONEY as an evil entity, of some description ?
    I disagree. I believe HONEY was discovered for the goodness, of all humanity.
    Everyone has the right to their own beliefs, even you, but I think a different forum should have been used.
    I found the rest of this forum to be of great interest and very informative.

  27. Great article, thank you, gives me more of a base and reasons to seek locate locals who raise bees and collect honey, also to request that which it the healthier from them. Also, the parts of other more exotic honeys and there medical value and what to look out for, where to purchase the unpasteurized and true honeys from these areas is still a question but having just read this provides for the next areas of search, again thank you for the information!

  28. My brother in law has honey bees and he spins it and put it in a jar is this good honey

  29. Is honey form my brother in laws back yard any good. He has had honey bees for a number of years now

  30. Do you know that honey is a great treatment for burns?
    Hope of course that you never have to find out if this is so or not, but if you ever get a burn, cover the site of the burn immediately with honey. Works like a miracle. The area of the burn becomes more painfull at first, but this is the effect of the honey operating on the heat to pull it out of the effected area.

  31. In SE Europe we use honey as a medicinal product in many ways. I remember when I had severe throat pain and swelling of my tonsils my grandparents instructed my mother to fold a newspaper sheet to about a height of my neck, spread honey on one side and sprinkle with black pepper and wrap that around my neck and cover and tie it with gauze. I am not sure why it has to be newspapers (Now that I think about it, isn’t the ink bad for you, maybe back then in my grandparents age it was naturally derived ink, who knows) but it had to be newspapers. After two nights my throat pain was gone and my tonsils were back to normal size, but they were still somewhat inflamed and that went away after the third night of treatment. I don’t know what the black pepper does when mixed with honey, does anyone know?

    this one isnt honey related, but when we had fever my grandparents would instruct my mother to grate a potato and mix it with unprocessed vinegar, put it in a sock and put it on your feet and than wrap the feet with towel and something waterproof (plastic bag or something similar), before bed time. Depending on the severity the fever is cured the next day or after the second treatment.

    When my grandmother had an accident in which she spilled couple of liters of hot oil and flour mix (used to thicken stews – she worked in a commercial kitchen) on her face, which swelled so bad that you couldnt see where the eyes and her mouth were and her head was the size if a big the hospital could only do so much back then in a 3rd world country. They kept cutting off the burnt flesh and what not, but could never really take all the heat out of the face. People were telling my father to seek out this mountain man who had a natural cure for a lot of external injuries. My father went up into the mountains to find this man who made a natural balm from herbs and bee products (probably honey and bees was and perhaps pollen). The man told him to come back the next day and he would have the balm ready. The man lived in a small hut/cabin and looked like someone that has never seen civilization. My father asked him how much money to bring him the next day. He told my dad he has no use for money and that it was unethical for anyone to charge people in need for medicine. My father said he couldnt just take the balm for free and the man told him do whatever he felt necessary, but dont give him money as he has no place to spend it. The next day my dad wen back up into the mountain with gifts of food stuffs that he couldnt obtain in the mountain and some equipment and tools. The man gave him the balm and instructed him to put a thin layer of the balm on a sterile gauze and apply that directly on the burn and wrap it with dry bandage overnight and this should help “pull out the heat” cure/prevent infection and reduce inflammation. The hospital objected to them using this while she was in the hospital, but they finally gave in after being bribed. When this was applied and the dry bandage was taken off the next morning the sterile gauze was soaked in what looked like pus mixed with blood, not on the side where the balm was, but on the outside. After using his product for about two weeks the swelling, edema and burning sensations were reduced to the point where she could be discharged from the hospital. The doctors could not believe the quick recovery, but refused to accept the fact that it was a result of the balm. Grannie kept using it after being discharged and after all of that she only had a medium sized flat scat that ran from one end of the lip to the tip of the earlobe, this is directly where the hot oil mixture made initial contact. Back then skin grafts and plastic surgery were unheard of in our country. My family visited the mountain medicine man again and brought him additional gifts as a token of appreciation, but he refused to accept them and pointed out to my family that in our traditional culture a person does not thank another for medicine (its actually kind of considered taboo to thank someone for medicine – supposedly it makes the medicine not work, dont laugh we were a third world country and old people, especially ones in the countryside believed in spirits and taboos). My father, feeling obligated to repay the man somehow, offered to help him the man start a business free of charge where he could market the product across Europe but the man refused that as well saying medicine should not be commercialized. This herbalist was kinda of well known, he had people come to him from all over Europe, including Germany and Sweden, which were medically advanced countries.

    I apologize for writing this long post, part of it not even related to the subject matter, but I just couldn’t resist the urge to share the story where other people believe in natural remedies. I wish I could find a man like this herbalist and learn his trade….

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