You've probably spotted Manuka honey on the shelves of your favorite health-food markets and in the ingredients lists of skin-care products, but what actually is it? And what justifies the product's high price tag? Native to New Zealand, Manuka honey is sourced from the nectar of the country's Manuka flower. It's believed to have a wide range of benefits that stretch beyond its use as a natural sweetener for your morning yogurt — although that's definitely a great (and tasty) option.
Unlike other traditional clover and wildflower honeys, its chemical makeup has Methylglyoxal (MGO), a plant compound with natural antibacterial properties. To ensure that you're getting the most potent Manuka honey on the market, look out for a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) on the label. This rating ensures that the product meets the gold standard — a verification that's awarded by the New Zealand government to weed out real Manuka honeys from fakes. Think of the rating system like this: a higher UMF number typically is used for medicinal benefits, like colds and coughs, while a lower UMF is more for everyday use (i.e. a daily immunity supplement).
If you're not convinced to add Manuka honey to your pantry yet, scroll through to discover the far-reaching uses — from skin care to fitness — of this powerhouse ingredient.