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Buckwheat Honey vs Manuka Honey

Although the health benefits of Manuka honey have been studied for some time, the health benefits of Buckwheat honey are just beginning to be discovered. A study (1) comparing the two honeys across three dimensions (nutritional value, antibacterial activity and antioxidant activity) revealed notable similarities and differences between the two honeys. 

1. Nutritional values: Buckwheat honey contained significantly more protein and more of many minerals compared to Manuka Honey. Moreover, Buckwheat honey contained almost three times as many phenols than Manuka honey. Phenols are secondary metabolites produced by plants for protection against stress or disease, and many of them have been found to be beneficial to human health.

Phenol-rich foods have been found to have protective effects against chronic diseases such as heart disease, neurodegenerative disease and cancer. High phenolic content is also associated with greater antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Methylglyoxal (MGO) is another plant metabolite which is specific to Manuka honey and which is responsible for many of its health benefits. Although Buckwheat honey also contained MGO, the level of MGO was much lower than Manuka honey.

2. Antibacterial activity: Both honeys were used to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) in agar wells. Buckwheat honey was more effective at inhibiting the growth of S. aureus compared to Manuka Honey. Both honeys were less effective at inhibiting P. aeruginosa, with Manuka honey being slightly more effective at higher concentrations. Despite a lower MGO content, Buckwheat honey had a comparable antibacterial effect to Manuka honey, likely due to its high phenolic content.

3. Antioxidant activity: A special test (cell-based antioxidant assay) was used to compare both honeys’ antioxidant activity under physiological conditions. Using phenolic honey extracts of both kinds of honeys, buckwheat honey was found to have a stronger cellular antioxidant activity, due to its high content of phenolic compounds. This result is consistent with another study (2) which found that Buckwheat honey exhibited greater total free radical scavenging activity than Manuka honey, although Manuka honey was more effective at scavenging (reducing the effects of) one particular kind of free radical.

Despite containing less MGO than Manuka honey, Buckwheat honey's high phenolic content offers significant health benefits which are even comparable to those of Manuka honey.

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  1. Deng, Jianling, Rui Liu, Qun Lu, Peiyan Hao, Anqi Xu, Jiuliang Zhang, and Jun Tan. "Biochemical properties, antibacterial and cellular antioxidant activities of buckwheat honey in comparison to manuka honey." Food chemistry252 (2018): 243-249. (PDF Link)
  2. Inoue, Koichi, Shiho Murayama, Fumie Seshimo, Kazue Takeba, Yoshihiro Yoshimura, and Hiroyuki Nakazawa. "Identification of phenolic compound in manuka honey as specific superoxide anion radical scavenger using electron spin resonance (ESR) and liquid chromatography with coulometric array detection." Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture85, no. 5 (2005): 872-878. (PDF Link)