Made from the manuka tree's medicinal nectar, the best manuka honey is widely used for fighting infections, easing inflammation, and boosting the immune system. Manuka honey has blossomed in popularity since studies started reporting on the enhanced antimicrobial activity. Now you can find it in just about any health food store. That said, not all manuka honey is created equal.
Before you shop, it's important to understand the grading system. Four of the most common terms you'll see on labels are MGO (or MG), UMF, NPA, and KFactor. Most honeys don't provide a figure for all of these terms, but these terms are used to measure the quality and the health-giving benefits of the honey.
- UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor, is a scale that honey producers have developed to rate the overall potency. It reflects the concentration of MGO (methylgyoxal), which is a naturally occurring compound with antibacterial qualities.
- NPA (non-peroxide activity) is a number that reflects how much of the antibacterial effects are due to compounds other than hydrogen peroxide, which is largely what sets Manuka honey apart from other types.
- KFactor refers to the percentage of manuka pollen in the honey, which indicates how processed it is, the higher the KFactor the less processed it is.
For the most part, the higher the ratings on these terms, the better the quality. Honey with the most superior healing qualities will have a UMF of 15 to 20+, an MGO of 400 to 550, or a KFactor of 18 to 22. Some brands use one or a combination of terms to rate their honey, while others skip them altogether. Avoid brands that don't use ratings, as they're likely low-grade options.
Other things to note:
- Manuka honey isn't liquid at room temperature. Instead, it consists of fine crystals, so look for a thick, easy-to-spread consistency.
- There are brands that are unpasteurized and non-GMO.
- If it's not from New Zealand (or sometimes Australia), it's likely not actual manuka honey.
Depending on your needs and preferred price point, these are some of the best brands available on the internet.
1. The Most Affordable Manuka Honey
If you're looking for a well-rounded, affordable manuka honey, Wedderspoon premium raw, unpasteurized manuka honey is widely considered one of the best brands available for the price. An Amazon Choice with over 2,000 reviews, this pick costs $34 for 17.6 ounces — which breaks down to less than two dollars per ounce.
That said, it's definitely not low-grade. With a KFactor of 16, the brand traces the honey's source to ensure that the majority of the nectar comes from the manuka tree. It's also non-pasteurized and non-GMO to preserve the healthy qualities, whether you use it for skin care, immunity, or digestion.
Reviewers say: "If I have a sore throat, I take just one spoonful of this and it goes away. I use it in my tea during cold season. I can't say if it's fought off colds or anything, but I do know it helps a sore throat immediately!"
2. The Best-Tasting Honey To Put On Food
According to reviewers, this is the best option for those who plan to eat and enjoy their honey. As an Amazon Choice with well over 1,000 reviews, Manuka Health's honey is one of the most popular brands on Amazon. It has an MGO of 400+, so highly ranked for antibacterial activity — but it's also crafted with a smooth, delicious texture, ideal for stirring into tea, drizzling on toast, or adding a rich flavor your favorite recipes.
Even though it undergoes independent testing for quality, safety, and potency, it's one of the better, less expensive brands.
Reviewers say: "I'm really glad I decided to try this stuff when I began having digestive discomfort. I can tell after a few days of eating that it really helps. Also, I keep a jar at my office and always put a spoonful in tea. It doesn't matter what flavor of tea you like to make, this stuff makes it DELICIOUS."
3. The Best Option For Your Immune System
Kiva's raw manuka honey is another Amazon Choice that has an MGO rating of 850+ and a UMF of 20+. In other words, it has an extremely high amount of antibacterial activity — much higher than most brands — so it offers superior health-enhancing qualities. No doubt, it's pricier than the others on this list, but buyers say it works wonders when it comes to easing sinus infections, cold and flu symptoms, acid reflux, bronchitis, and skin infections.
Reviewers say: "I came down with the worst bronchitis I have ever had [...] It's been a week [of taking this honey] and tonight, I got my voice back, I can eat again, and my cough is distant, and reducing. Now this is amazing since nothing (including time, rest and water) was making a difference."
4. The Best Manuka Honey For Skin
Since honey has been shown to fight pathogens that colonize skin, it's a popular solution for those with acne. Manuka honey, in particular, also helps with inflammation.
This manuka honey from Steens is a popular choice for acne masks, wounds, and other topical treatments. In addition to a UMF rating of 15 and an MGO rating of 514, it's raw, unpasteurized, and cold-pressed to preserve as much of the nutrients and amino acids as possible (which help skin firmness). It also has a thicker consistency with uneven crystals, which is great for the gentle exfoliation of dead skin.
Reviewers say: "I suffer from acne and it's [the] worst when that time of the month is approaching. I only use it as a mask and tonight will be day 3, believe it or not I can definitely see some improvements on my skin, not to mention the product feels so soothing and moisturizing on the skin as well."
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