Manuka honey has gained significant attention in recent years due to its healing properties and distinctive flavor, but it’s not the only honey with remarkable benefits.
In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to seven alternative honey varieties, each boasting unique characteristics, origins, and health advantages. These alternatives present a diverse palette of flavors and medicinal uses that can complement your wellness journey while offering a taste of the natural world in all its rich variety.
Let’s dive into these remarkable alternatives and learn how they can serve as valuable substitutes for Manuka honey.
1. Buckwheat Honey
Buckwheat honey is a dark, rich honey produced when bees collect nectar from buckwheat flowers. It has a distinct color, taste, texture, and flavor profile, with hints of molasses-like sweetness. This type of honey is known for being highly nutritious, as it is rich in antioxidants that can boost your overall health and support immune function.
Buckwheat honey stands out due to its higher content of sugars, proteins, and total phenols compared to Manuka honey. It is an accessible and affordable alternative, especially in the US market, since Manuka honey can be quite expensive. With its immune-boosting properties and affordability, buckwheat honey makes a great addition to your diet.
2. Australian Manuka Honey
Australian Manuka honey comes from several plant species within the Leptospermum genus, whereas New Zealand Manuka honey is sourced from the Leptospermum scoparium plant. With a complex botanical makeup, Australian Manuka honey has its unique attributes. However, it does face a significant challenge in terms of authenticity and purity, as Australia does not have the rigorous standards and decades of research that back up New Zealand’s Manuka honey.
Despite this, both New Zealand and Australian Manuka honey possess remarkable properties. While the former may outrank the latter in terms of authenticity, the Australian version can still be a worthy alternative for those interested in exploring other options.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison between Manuka Honey and Australian Manuka Honey.
3. Kanuka Honey
The distinction between Manuka and Kanuka can be puzzling; after all, both types of honey are derived from trees within the Myrtaceae family, native to New Zealand, and often found growing together. Yet, they are genetically different and offer distinctly different benefits.
Emerging as a promising alternative, Kanuka honey (from the Kanuka tree, Kunzea ericoides) is celebrated for its potent topical application. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it effectively heals various skin abrasions, contributing to its growing popularity.
Moreover, it has shown promising results in treating skin disorders like cold sores and Actinic Keratosis (AK), a condition heavily influenced by the immune system. While research is ongoing, it’s clear that Kanuka honey presents its own suite of health benefits that are worth exploring.
4. Clover Honey
As the name suggests, clover honey originates from the nectar of clover flowers, which bloom for an extended period throughout the year. This lengthy blooming period makes the harvesting process relatively easy. This honey variety is popular in the kitchen due to its sweet, mild floral flavor and light color.
Though it primarily consists of natural sugars, clover honey also contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Its health benefits stem from its antioxidant compounds, including phenolic acids and flavanols, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
When applied to wounds, clover honey has demonstrated healing properties, reducing both the size and bacteria counts. As a milder and more affordable alternative to Manuka honey, clover honey has much to offer those looking for a versatile sweetener with health-promoting attributes.
5. Acacia Honey
Acacia honey, also called locust honey, is sourced from the Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust) tree. Its light color and delicate, sweet flavor make it a highly coveted honey variety. Acacia honey offers a mild floral taste, making it an ideal complement to a wide variety of dishes.
Its slow crystallization process results in a long shelf life, and its low sucrose content renders it suitable for diabetics. Acacia honey possesses antibacterial activity and can potentially treat acne and contribute to wound healing by preventing bacterial infections.
Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of acacia honey against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, alongside its potential to inhibit the growth of human breast adenocarcinoma cells. This suggests promising opportunities for its use in alternative medical treatments. Furthermore, acacia honey has shown efficacy against specific antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, additional research is needed to substantiate these potential benefits.
6. Jarrah Honey
Jarrah honey is made from the nectar of the Jarrah tree—a species of eucalyptus native to Western Australia. Darker in color with an amber hue, its flavor profile is characterized by a subtly sweet, smooth nutty-malt taste. The Jarrah tree blooms once every two years from late spring to early summer.
Its origin, limited bloom season, and healing abilities make Jarrah honey a valuable commodity. Jarrah honey has been scientifically proven to possess exceptional antibacterial activity, primarily due to the natural hydrogen peroxide produced by the bee-derived enzyme glucose oxidase.
This honey also helps in treating wounds, skin infections, and minor burns. Although further research is needed to explore its full potential, Jarrah honey holds promise as a medical alternative to Manuka honey.
7. Sidr Honey
Sidr honey comes from the Sidr tree, also known as Christ’s Thorn Jujube or Lote tree. Commonly found in regions such as Yemen, Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, India, and Pakistan, the Lote Tree has significant cultural value in the Muslim world due to its high nutritional and medicinal value mentioned in Islamic texts.
Thick, dark, and golden-colored with a rich, sweet, buttery taste, Sidr honey boasts an impressive set of benefits. It has traditionally been used to treat liver diseases, gastric ulcers, eye and lung infections, constipation, and infections following burns, wounds, and surgery.
Sidr honey has demonstrated effectiveness in killing common bacterial strains, showcasing its potential as an antibiotic alternative. Its richness in bioactive compounds is believed to contribute to its antimicrobial activities. Yemeni Sidr honey, widely considered the highest quality, can cost several thousand dollars depending on the location and purity.
These seven alternatives to Manuka honey present a wide array of medicinal properties, unique flavors, and diverse origins. Each type possesses its strengths and benefits, proving that the world of honey is multi-faceted and full of valuable natural treasures to explore for everyday health and well-being.
While these honey varieties offer impressive health benefits, it’s imperative to remember that infants below one year of age should avoid all types of honey because of the risk of botulism. With the appropriate precautions and knowledge, you can enjoy these noteworthy alternatives to Manuka honey while tapping into their valuable health benefits.