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.
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.
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.
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.