The Best Manuka Honey (According to a Dietician)
Photo by Arwin Neil Baichoo on Unsplash
Perhaps you like to add a few drops honey to your tea or drizzle it over yogurt for a bit of sweetness. But did you know that consuming high-quality products, like the best Manuka honey on the market, can also improve your health?
Manuka honey, produced from the nectar collected by bees from the Manuka tree, holds antibacterial properties, and as far back as 1392 has been used to help heal wounds and assist in improving overall health.
In the late 1900s, a doctor in New Zealand discovered why Manuka honey is an effective healer: Honey contains natural hydrogen peroxide. In some honey, the hydrogen peroxide is destroyed when the honey is subject to heat or light outside the hive. But it stays intact in Manuka honey, making it effective against strains of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, the MRSA superbug.
Our Picks for the Best Manuka Honey
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Check out our full review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Overall – Manukora Raw Manuka Honey
- Best for Inflammation – Manuka Health Manuka Honey
- Best UMF 15+ Product – Kiva Raw Manuka Honey
- Best Monofloral – Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey
How to Choose the Best Manuka Honey
As you can tell, Manuka honey is not like regular honey. Therefore, when you look at a product that claims to contain Manuka honey, it’s important to check for such compounds that come from the Manuka plant such as:
- Methylglyoxal (MGO): This is an antibacterial compound found in Manuka honey and is used to heal wounds, soothe sore throats, and prevent tooth decay.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): This compound found in the nectar of Manuka tree flowers converts into MGO during the production of honey, but it may still be listed on Manuka honey supplements.
- Leptosperin: This compound is a naturally occurring chemical found in Manuka tree plants and is important because it is only found in Manuka honey and a few close relatives, so it’s presence indicates a Manuka honey product’s authenticity.
You can ensure such compounds are in the Manuka honey product you purchase if it is an authentic Manuka honey with Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMF) certification. If you see a UMF stamp on a product, it means it has been produced by one of the 100+ beekeepers, producers, and exporters it licenses to indicate the strength of the hydrogen peroxide compounds.
UMF also uses grading systems to reveal the quantity of Manuka honey compounds in a product. These grading systems include the label claim that it is authentic Manuka honey. The second grade is a number that shows how much of DHA, MGO, and Leptosperin a product contains. A higher score indicates better quality. Try to choose a product with at least a score of 10, but a UMF rating of 15 or more would be even more high quality.
Also, the K Factor 16™ can tell you if a product contains a high amount of bee pollen and if it’s from the Manuka plant. It indicates a pollen count of 70% or higher, purity, live enzymes, and a product containing the compound DHA.
Finally, the symbol MGO will tell you if a product contains a potent level of the compound methylglyoxal which indicates if a product has a good level of antibacterial activity. An MGO level of 400 to 550+ indicates a very high antibacterial activity.
The 4 Best Manuka Honey Brands
Best Overall – Manukora Raw Manuka Honey
Manukora Raw Manuka Honey is our top pick. This Manuka honey comes in many different levels of purity, which allows you to calibrate both your potency and find a manuka that works for your budget. We especially like the high level of traceability the brand offers.
- Licensed UMF Assocation member
- MGO certified and UMF certified
- Industry leading traceability
- Raw and unpasteurized
Best for Inflammation: Manuka Health Manuka Honey
We rate this Manuka Health product as one of the best Manuka honeys on the market. This Manuka honey comes in many different levels of potency and may help support healing through its potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- 100% pure New Zealand Manuka honey
- MGO 400+
- Independent quality testing in an ISO17025 accredited laboratory
- Traceable from beehive to shelf
- Raw and unpasteurized
- Only 45 calories per tablespoon
Best UMF 15+ Product: Kiva Raw Manuka Honey
Kiva Raw Manuka honey has a high UMF and MGO level, making it full of powerful antioxidants and antibacterial compounds. In turn, this product can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
- UMF 15+ certified
- MGO 514+
- Harvested from New Zealand
- Independently tested, verified, and traceable
- Raw and unpasteurized
Best Monofloral: Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey
The distinction “monofloral” is important because it indicates honey that comes from the nectar of one flower, whereas multiflora could specify that it either comes from the nectar of multiple types of flowers or is blended with other honey products. Multiflora therefore may indicate the health-benefiting Manuka compounds are less potent.
Wedderspoon’s product is authentic Manuka honey made in New Zealand and is raw and unpasteurized, which preserves its antioxidant properties. The authenticity gives it an earthy, caramelized flavor that is delicious on its own or in your favorite beverage, making it one of the best Manuka honey supplements around.
- Made in New Zealand
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- K Factor 16
- Raw and unpasteurized monofloral Manuka honey
- Traceable from hive to home
- 70 calories per tablespoon
- Free of antibiotics, glyphosate, and pesticides
- SQF level 3 facility to certify safety standards
What You Need to Know to Find the Best Manuka Honey
The Manuka bush is indigenous to New Zealand, so you should look for Manuka honey from New Zealand to help ensure an authentic product. Also, it’s important to choose a Manuka honey product that is raw and unpasteurized to preserve the anti-inflammatory properties and other nutrients found in the bee pollen.
Some products also come from Australia. Australian Leptospermum scoparium plants may even be more active than those in New Zealand when it comes to antimicrobial properties.
Either way, high-grade Manuka honey is available from both places if you want to take honey for its medicinal properties or use it as a sweetener.
Benefits of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is well-known for its ability to help improve wound healing due to its antibacterial properties. Additionally, this honey can also boost the immune system due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2017 study shows that Manuka honey can stop the growth of bacteria and enhance wound healing and tissue repair by boosting immune health. Manuka honey can also help those with sore throats as it can not only coat the throat and soothe it, but can also fight off inflammation and bacteria leading to a sore throat.
Cons of Manuka Honey
There are no dosing restrictions on honey bee products in general, however, any type of honey should not be used by infants or those allergic or sensitive to bee pollen. Pediatricians recommend children under 12 months of age should not be given honey because it may contain spores of bacteria that could cause botulism, which can lead to paralysis. Studies show though that for most people, Manuka honey of UMF 20+ is generally safe to consume. A UMF 10+ may be a good place to start, too.
Just like with any dietary supplement product, you should make sure that the product has undergone independent lab tests for purity and potency. If a product is independently tested, or third-party tested, you can ensure that what is on the label is what is in the product you’re purchasing. An SQF certification can also indicate safety testing has been done on the product.
If you have questions about UMF certifications or the extraction process—how the Manuka flowers are processed—the brand should make this information available. You can also find kosher superfoods with light brand research.
FAQ: Best Manuka Honey
Why should you take Manuka honey?
You would use Manuka honey if you feel you are getting sick often or having trouble with wounds healing properly. You should never replace any prescribed medicines with Manuka honey, but you can use it as a supplement to your current treatments for health issues. Always be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new dietary supplement regimen.
Is it worth your money?
If Manuka honey helps reduce your sick days from work or improves your quality of life, then it’s worth the money. Also, if Manuka honey helps you have a stronger immune system or better healing wounds, then the money you spend on it will be well worth feeling better inside and out.
Who should use Manuka honey?
Manuka honey is best for anyone who wants an extra boost in their immune health. There are many quality Manuka honey brands out there, but if you use the tips above, you can choose a high-quality product that can help you reap Manuka health benefits.
Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, health editor, and founder of LighttrackNutrition.com. She has been a registered dietitian with the Commission on Dietetic Registration since 2010 and has over a decade of experience in the nutrition and dietetics industry. Since 2011 Staci has written and edited for sites including CDiabetes, Anirva, Casa de Sante, Shape.com, ThisisInsider.com, and Eat This Not That.