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How to choose the right Manuka honey

 Manuka honeys vary. When choosing a honey for health benefits, ensure the honey contains MGO levels higher than 100mg/kg.

 What are you using the  honey for? 

Today, many consumers use Manuka honey as a health supplement to support their wellbeing. Because it’s both scarce and unique, it’s usually pricier than everyday honey.


If you’re using a honey to support your immune system, fitness regime or for a related purpose, you may benefit from a high MGO Manuka honey. The below table should help.


Value of MGO Manuka Honey in Gastrointestinal Tract

Most consumers purchase MGO Manuka Honey for the benefits it provides to their digestive tract.​
Many people suffer digestive discomfit and have found MGO Manuka Honey provides relief. This can be sustained since manuka honey acts as a prebiotic in encouraging and maintaining the micro-floral balance in the digestive tract.

When methylglyoxal is consumed in honey it remains stable in the mouth and stomach. When it enters the small intestine it is degraded and is not absorbed into the bloodstream. Thereafter, it is eliminated by the body.

Any health benefits through anti-bacterial activity are only possible in the mouth, oesophagus and stomach.
Manuka Honeys popularity is based on millions of consumers experiencing improvements to their digestion and digestive comfit. There are no clinical trials to demonstrate this happens in humans.

Is Methylgyloxal (MGO) in Manuka Honey Safe to Eat?

Dietary methylglyoxal such as in MGO Manuka Honey does not harm the body and in fact, is never absorbed by the body. It does not enter the bloodstream and passes through the body.

In summary dietary methylglyoxal is not a dietary risk.

It is important to distinguish between two categories of methylglyoxal. The first is where it is produced by the human body during energy metabolism in every cell in the body. This occurs when the glucose from food is converted into energy. Eventually methylglyoxal is eliminated from every cell by the body’s own detoxification system.

In contrast, methylglyoxal when consumed in manuka honey is never absorbed by the body. We have tested this in people where after consuming manuka honey no trace of methylglyoxal was found in their bloodstream. What happens is when the manuka honey is in the small intestine, the methylglyoxal combines with another enzyme and then excreted.

Any health benefits through anti-bacterial activity are only possible in the mouth, oesophagus and stomach.

 Shop our Manuka Honey products 

Buy from our range of Manuka honey and bee products, delivered directly from New Zealand to your door.

  MGO and UMF 


MGO and UMF are both numbers. You’ll find at least one – and possibly both – displayed on jars of genuine New Zealand Manuka honey.

Read more about these different systems here and why we prefer MGO at Helena Health.

 UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor 

UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor. The term was first coined by Professor Peter Molan of the University of Waikato in New Zealand.


Professor Molan realised Manuka honey had special antibacterial properties that couldn’t be explained by any underlying hydrogen peroxide content. He couldn’t quite work out what made Manuka honey so special, but he did work out some Manuka honeys had greater antibacterial properties than others.


To differentiate between the honeys, Professor Molan came up with the UMF rating system for non-peroxide Manuka honey activity. Manuka honey with a higher UMF has greater antibacterial properties.


 MGO stands for methylglyoxal 


Once the UMF became widespread, scientists realised that low-UMF Manuka honey had low levels of a compound called methylglyoxal, and that high UMF Manuka honey had high levels of the same compound. They also realised that all Manuka honey had significantly higher levels of methylglyoxal than standard honey. 


Scientists realised methylglyoxal made Manuka honey so special. The ‘Unique Manuka Factor’ was no longer a mystery. With the discovery of Manuka honey’s methylglyoxal levels, brands no longer had to rely on a mysterious ‘UMF’. They could report on the precise concentration of methylglyoxal in each of their honeys. They abbreviated methylglyoxal to MGO and began using MGO in place of (or as well as) UMF. 


MGO500 means Manuka honey contains at least 500mg of MGO per kilo. Manuka honeys with a higher MGO have greater antibacterial properties.

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