Raw Honey vs. Processed Honey
We have the industrious honey bees to thank for perhaps the most perfect food on the planet: raw honey. The health benefits of honey, especially raw honey, are enormous. Honey bees spend their entire life--six weeks to nine months--collecting pollen and working toward filling their portion of the honey pot, which is a mere one-twelfth of a teaspoonful of raw honey.
Benefits of Honey
In its raw state, honey is one of Nature's most perfect foods. In addition to a multitude of antioxidants, one ounce of raw honey contains approximately 20 vitamins, 18 amino acids, 16 minerals, and a ton of antioxidants, as well as plenty of phytonutrients and flavinoids. Simply put, in its raw state, honey is an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal substance. No matter how you look at it, the health benefits of honey are simply too sweet to ignore.
When honey is processed, however, the benefits begin to subside. Heating is the biggest culprit. But even when processed and heated at high temperatures, processed honey is still a wonder food that should not be discounted. For best health results, always look for organic, pesticide-free raw honey and makes sure that the words "raw honey" appear somewhere on the label. Though honey will darken or lighten according to the type of pollen the honey bees have collected, raw honey always has some texture and often is cloudy. Honey that is sparkling clear and free from wax and other debris has usually been processed with excessive heat, which may have destroyed many of honey's good enzymes and vitamins.
Dangers of Honey
Honey is typically very safe. So safe, in fact, that most bacteria cannot even grow in raw honey. But even honey, whether raw or processed, is not perfect. Along with the good, honey can also contain a little bad. Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause a life-threatening paralytic disease in infants and children under the age of one, is sometimes found in honey. Symptoms of infant botulism poisoning may include fever, fatigue, loss of muscle control, irritability, feeble cry, weak sucking, sleepiness, and constipation. Should your child exhibit such symptoms, contact your physician immediately, even if you are not aware of honey having been fed to your child. (Corn syrup, light or dark, can also carry clostridium botulinum spores, as can dust and many other sources.)
Raw Honey or Adulterated Honey
Adulterated honey is honey that has had additional ingredients such as glucose, dextrose, molasses, corn syrup, sugar water, or some other product added. To increase the production of honey in their hives, beekeepers may add ingredients to their honey from time to time. To discover if the honey on your table is pure raw honey or honey that has been tampered with, dip a spoon into the honey and then raise the spoon as high as eight to twelve inches. If the honey tapers to a thin string but does not break, you are probably looking at the real McCoy. Another method includes dropping a tablespoon of honey into a bowl and then covering the honey with water. After a few minutes, unadulterated honey is said to form a honeycomb pattern across the top.