Ever wondered what the UMF label is on your Manuka honey? Is it a gimmick or an actual proof of product? Sit tight because we are about to lay it all out for you so you can become smarter consumers:
Manuka honey is usually the most expensive option in the selection of honey at the grocer aisle. However, it is not without a reason because Manuka honey has special properties (Leptocin, DHA, Methylglyoxal) not found in any other variant of honey. Best of all, these properties provide much more anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action than other types of honey.
Manuka honey is so praised for its medicinal qualities because these natural compounds act by inhibiting
myeloperoxidase (MPO). During an infection, MPO is released and triggers the inflammatory process in our body, resulting in illnesses such as asthma, Crohn's diseases, vasculitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Recently, MPO has also been linked to the incident of cardiovascular attacks and is ongoing trial as a drug to halt tumor growth.
Unfortunately, to the uninitiated, not all products labelled Manuka honey contain this unique ingredient. Even if they do, their quality vary in grade and strength. This is due to bees not limiting to just collecting nectar from one species of plant. By picking up various nectar, this dilutes the honey; thus, losing the concentration of its unique properties.
So here's the bit you should read closely: if you want guaranteed Manuka honey, watch out for the grading system called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). Producers are awarded this label when they meet the strict standard of UMF honey association. When a honey is labelled UMF, you know it means the Manuka honey is guaranteed to be natural, unadulterated, pure, and produced in New Zealand. The numbers printed above the trademark indicates the concentration of special properties found in that particular jar. The numbers range from 5 onward, with 16+ being the highest grade.
You may encounter a product with a printed number, without the UMF trademark. This means that this product has not gone through the stringent testing of the UMF association.
Needless to say, the price of the bottle of manuka honey increase proportionately to the number on the UMF label. For significant health benefit, opt for level 10+ and above. Current cancer trials uses the dosage of 500mg/kg/day of these properties, which is roughly a bottle of 15+ manuka honey. At the moment, there are still no proof if level 20+ manuka honey has any benefit. In fact, some consumers report to minor sensitivity reaction at this level.