One of the most popular trends in health and wellness is incorporating natural ingredients into your daily routine. There are so many amazing options to choose from, but one of my favorites is Manuka honey. I love it because it has so many health benefits, tastes delicious, and is so easy to use every day. If you're curious about why Manuka honey is such a powerful superfood, or if you're looking for some ways to add it to your own routine, read on!
I'll share some of the top reasons why Manuka honey is so good for you and some easy ways to enjoy it.
What is Manuka honey?
Honey has been used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of ailments, though the benefits and quality depend on the kind of honey being used. Manuka honey boasts a ton of benefits for your immune system, digestive health, and even your skin.
You're probably familiar with the golden sweetener in the bear or beehive-shaped bottle in your grocery store, and you might even recall your grandmother mixing it with lemon juice and warm water to soothe a scratchy throat. But not all honey is created equal—or made from the same plants, and that's what sets Manuka honey apart.
Manuka honey is honey derived from bees that feed on the Manuka bush found in New Zealand. The Manuka bush and the honey that bees create from it, is what's responsible for the plethora of health benefits you'll find in this delicious natural sweetener.
How is Manuka honey different from regular honey?
Manuka honey is rich in a natural compound called methylglyoxal (or MGO). This is the organically occurring compound responsible for Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties. An MGO rating is a standardized measure of methylglyoxal content and is an indicator of quality and amount the honey contains. There are very small trace amounts of this compound in other types of honey, but it’s too little to have any beneficial properties.
To measure the potency of this beneficial compound, you’ll see a clear rating on each genuine bottle of Manuka Doctor honey, like MGO 80 or MGO 125. I love Manuka Doctor's easy-to-read labels because I can choose from various MGO ratings depending on what I'm using it for that day.
Let’s take a closer look at MGO. Take a look at your own jar of Manuka Doctor’s Manuka honey. Do you see that large number on the front of the jar? That is your honey’s MGO rating, and it indicates the strength of the honey’s microbial activity, which is established through a scientific chemical analysis that looks at three different chemical markers naturally present in the honey. This process tells us the MGO-activity level.
Studies have shown that the greater the MGO level, the greater the honey’s immunity-boosting, bug-fighting power.
Where your Manuka honey comes from matters
As a holistic doctor, I strongly recommend reading ingredient labels, especially when it comes to choosing Manuka honey. Some products might say "Manuka" on the label, but if you don’t see a specific rating, that it’s packed in New Zealand or a seal of third-party verification, you’re probably looking at a product that’s missing the enzymes and health supporting properties of true Manuka honey.
I choose Manuka Doctor because it's independently certified for MGO activity. It is first tested in New Zealand, using the brand’s in-house highly technical equipment, and then it is tested again – in an independent laboratory no less – when it’s packaged and sent to us in the United States. In short, this all means that’s what's on the label matches what's in the jar.
Manuka Doctor can trace every single batch of honey right back to the hive site where it was created. This is important because as a Functional MD (and a mom), I know the more we understand about where our food comes from, the greater the opportunity we have to make choices that positively impact our nutrition, our families, and the environment in the best way possible.
My five favorite ways to use Manuka honey
I love creating new recipes and ideas with functional foods like Manuka honey. It's so versatile, and I like the boost of added health benefits that come with it.
You can use Manuka honey similarly to how you would use regular honey, which is one reason it's so easy to incorporate into your routine—who doesn't love a healthier sweetener? Manuka honey is thicker than regular honey though, which is pretty runny at room temp, so keep that in mind when you’re using it.
Here's how I take advantage of Manuka honey’s flavor and health benefits:
- On-the-go in Greek yogurt. Everyone who knows me knows I love quick, yummy, protein-packed breakfasts, and drizzling a little Manuka honey over Greek yogurt has become my favorite way to fuel my morning. While Greek yogurt by itself tastes a little... well, plain, Manuka honey adds a delightful, subtly sweet flavor. Manuka honey supports gut health too, alongside the probiotics in Greek yogurt—so it's really a perfect pair for a gut-healthy and protein-rich breakfast.
- In a sweet-but-savory salad dressing. If you read most store-bought salad dressing ingredients, you're likely to find artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and a bunch of other undesirable things. A healthy homemade version with Manuka honey is so easy to make and allows me to use whole food ingredients. Plus, Manuka honey is the perfect texture for dressings and marinades. The basic ingredients in any salad dressing are three main things: A healthy oil like avocado or olive oil, a sweetener like Manuka honey, and an acid like apple cider vinegar or balsamic. Experiment to find your favorite!
- Straight off the spoon. I keep max-strength MGO 625 Manuka Honey on hand for when my family needs it most. One spoonful not only soothes a scratchy throat, but it supports immune function and digestive health. Manuka honey is a great tool to have in my pocket during any immune challenge, when my kids have a case of the sniffles, or around back-to-school season.
- In a DIY honey turmeric face mask. Ok, here's where Manuka honey really gets fun. Many people don't know that Manuka honey is great for the skin. But it helps retain moisture and supports a healthy microbial balance on your skin's surface. Once every couple of weeks, I mix a teaspoon of MGO 125 Manuka honey with a teaspoon of turmeric, then add a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. I'll mix that up and apply it to my face for about 15 minutes before rinsing off. These ingredients help brighten the appearance of skin and keep it hydrated—which is a must-have year-round!
- After roasting vegetables. If you're a mom, you know how creative you need to get sometimes to make your kids interested in veggies. One of the ways we like them at my house is with a (somewhat heavy-handed) drizzle of Manuka honey over the top of carrots, beets, or butternut squash after roasting. Manuka honey works so much better to bring out the flavors of root vegetables than any refined sugar. I also like to use it over a baked sweet potato if I’m craving something sweet but don’t want a lot of added sugars. A note though: the beneficial enzymes and compounds responsible for a majority of Manuka honey’s health benefits are heat sensitive. So make sure to add it after you’re done cooking.
How will you use up your jar of Manuka honey to get the maximum wellbeeingTM benefits? I’m always finding new ways to make functional foods like Manuka honey part of my day and encourage all my patients to do the same!