What is MGO in Manuka Honey? A Comprehensive Guide

manuka mgo

Manuka honey has been a popular ingredient in many culinary dishes and home remedies, known for its unique antibacterial and healing properties. However, it’s important to understand what makes Manuka honey different from regular honey and how to choose the right one for your needs. In this article, we will explore the meaning of MGO in Manuka honey and its significance in determining the quality and potency of this superfood.

What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a type of honey that is produced by bees that collect nectar from the Manuka tree, a native plant to New Zealand. It is known for its high concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO), a compound that gives Manuka honey its unique antibacterial properties. Manuka honey has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, including treating wounds, sore throats, and digestive issues.

What is MGO?

MGO stands for methylglyoxal, a natural organic compound that is found in Manuka honey. MGO is produced when dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a naturally occurring compound in the nectar of the Manuka tree, is converted into MGO during the honey-making process. The higher the concentration of MGO in Manuka honey, the greater the antibacterial potency and health benefits.

How is MGO Measured in Manuka Honey?

MGO levels in Manuka honey can be measured using a grading system called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). The UMF rating system was developed by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) in New Zealand and is used to indicate the level of antibacterial activity in the honey. The UMF rating is based on the concentration of MGO and other compounds that contribute to the honey’s antibacterial activity. The higher the UMF rating, the higher the concentration of MGO and other antibacterial compounds.

What are the benefits of consuming Manuka honey with high levels of MGO? Consuming Manuka honey with high levels of MGO is believed to have a range of health benefits. Some of the potential benefits include:

  1. Wound healing: Manuka honey has been shown to be effective in treating a range of wounds, including burns, cuts, and ulcers. The antibacterial properties of MGO may help to prevent infection and promote healing.
  2. Digestive health: Some studies suggest that Manuka honey with high levels of MGO may be beneficial for digestive health. It is believed to help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and may help to relieve symptoms of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis.
  3. Oral health: Manuka honey with high levels of MGO may also be beneficial for oral health. It has been shown to be effective in reducing the growth of bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  4. Immune system support: Manuka honey with high levels of MGO may also help to boost the immune system. It is believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to protect the body against damage from free radicals and inflammation.

What are the potential side effects of consuming Manuka honey with high levels of MGO?

While Manuka honey is generally considered safe, consuming large amounts of honey with high levels of MGO may lead to some side effects. These can include:

  1. Digestive issues: Consuming too much Manuka honey may lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea and stomach cramps.
  2. Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to honey and may experience allergic reactions such as hives, itching, and swelling.
  3. High blood sugar: Manuka honey is high in sugar and consuming large amounts of it may lead to high blood sugar levels, particularly in people with diabetes.

Monofloral vs Multifloral Honey

When it comes to honey, there are different types depending on the type of flower that bees collect nectar and pollen from. Monofloral honey refers to honey that is primarily made from the nectar of one type of flower, while multifloral honey is made from a variety of flowers.

Manuka honey is a particularly popular type of honey that is produced in New Zealand. It is known for its unique flavor and medicinal properties, including antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. Honey with high levels of these Manuka-related attributes is called monofloral Manuka honey, which is considered to be the purest form of Manuka honey.

However, it can be challenging to ensure that bees only collect nectar and pollen from Manuka flowers. As a result, honey that contains both Manuka and other flower sources, but still has sufficient levels of the Manuka-related attributes, is called multifloral Manuka honey. This honey is not 100% Manuka, but it still contains many of the same beneficial properties.

When purchasing Manuka honey, it’s essential to read the label carefully to determine whether it’s monofloral or multifloral. While monofloral honey is considered to be of higher quality, multifloral honey can also be an excellent choice, depending on your needs and preferences. Ultimately, both types of honey offer unique flavor profiles and health benefits, making them valuable additions to any pantry.

MGO vs UMF rating : What Is The Difference ?

One of the commonly used rating systems is the MGO rating, which stands for Methylglyoxal. Methylglyoxal is the compound responsible for the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey, and the MGO rating measures the concentration of this compound in the honey. The higher the MGO rating, the more potent the honey is.

Another rating system used for Manuka honey is the UMF rating, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor. The UMF rating measures not only the concentration of Methylglyoxal but also other naturally occurring compounds found only in Manuka nectar, such as Leptosperin and Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), as well as the non-peroxide activity (NPA).

The reason why DHA is important in determining the UMF rating is that it interacts with other proteins and acids to produce Methylglyoxal over time. Therefore, the DHA test acts as an indicator of the potential MGO rating of the honey.

Both the MGO and UMF rating systems are equally valuable in providing assurance to the customers that they are buying genuine Manuka honey. The table above shows a rough conversion between the two rating systems.

In conclusion, when shopping for Manuka honey, it is important to pay attention to the rating system used by the manufacturer. Both MGO and UMF ratings measure the same thing, but the UMF rating takes into account additional compounds found only in Manuka nectar. So, depending on your preference and needs, you can choose between the two rating systems to find the best Manuka honey for you.

Which Manuka Honey is best?

If the label of the Manuka honey does not state an MGO or UMF rating, it means that the honey has not been tested or certified. It is important to be cautious of labels that mention the term ‘Manuka’ without an industry-accepted rating. Some honey may be labeled as ‘active’ with a rating such as ‘Active 20+’ but there are no regulations regarding the use of the term ‘active.’ It is advisable to purchase products with proper labeling to ensure that you are getting genuine Manuka honey.

The finest Manuka honey is sourced from the pristine wilderness of New Zealand and is produced by individuals who have a genuine concern for the environment and the welfare of bees. It is essential to look for producers who maintain high standards, whether the honey is meant for domestic or international markets, as MPI rules do not apply in the domestic market of New Zealand. Mountain Valley Honey is committed to maintaining these high standards, and their Manuka honey is always certified whether purchased in New Zealand or overseas.

MGO is an important indicator of the quality of Manuka honey and ensures that the honey is certified as genuine. It is recommended to become familiar with the honey producers and choose beekeepers who practice ethical and sustainable methods, as with any other great food.


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