Is Tualang Honey Better than Manuka? Here Are Its Many Benefits
This type of honey just might be worth its higher price for its wide range of health benefits.
By Christina Manian, RDN Updated on September 27, 2023
Move over Manuka—Tualang honey is here to steal the spotlight. While Manuka honey has made a name for itself as a popular superfood, Tualang is the trending newcomer to watch, with many health benefits to boast. Learn more about what this honey is and the benefits you can expect—plus see the consensus on whether it really is better for you than Manuka.
What is Tualang Honey?
Tualang honey is a wild polyfloral or multi-floral honey, meaning that it is created by bees who have a wide foraging range—in this case, mostly trees.1 The Apis dorsata bees that produce this honey build their honeycombs under the branches of the Tualang tree, native to the tropical rainforests of Malaysia and earning this sweet stuff its name.1 The trees are massive, with some growing over 300 feet tall. They have smooth, slippery trunks, which is one reason why they’re so appealing to these bees—very few predators can get their hands on their hard-earned honey.2
Tualang is considered a wild honey variety because the bees that create it are not domesticated. Beyond that, harvesting this honey can be quite the task, as the beehives are typically located high up in trees, requiring skilled harvesters with special equipment.2 All of these factors mean that Tualang honey can be exorbitantly expensive, with some varieties costing well over $250 per kilogram (2.2 pounds).2 These numbers blow Manuka honey’s pricing out of the water.
When it comes to the look and flavor of this honey, you’ll find a wide range—it's created from a variety of different tree nectars, with no two harvests ever being the same. You can find Tualang honey in black, yellow, white, red, and golden color varieties. The taste across these will be just as diverse, with some offering bitter, sweet, sour, or floral notes.
Tualang Honey's Benefits
With Tualang honey being so much more expensive than Manuka, you may be wondering if the benefits measure up. When comparing the two honeys from a nutritional lens, there are far more similarities than differences. The mineral content is pretty much the same; they both contain the active compound methylglyoxal (MGO), and they both have significant amounts of plant or phenolic compounds that offer antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits.1 These similarities result in many of the same health benefits, including wound healing.
However, Tualang honey has higher phenolic compounds, which can lead to some other impressive benefits as well.3
It has been found to be neuroprotective in many ways, boosting cognition and memory, relieving stress, and even providing antidepressive benefits.1 One study found that Tualang honey was able to protect cells from ultraviolet (UV) light radiation, helping to prevent skin cancer.1 The honey has also been found to be extremely effective at healing wounds, as mentioned above, but also for reducing inflammation in both the skin and eyes.1
Remarkably, the bioactive compounds found in this variety of honey have been shown to eradicate cancer-causing free radical molecules. One study found that Tualang might actually kill off leukemia cells; another found supplementation of this honey could improve both cancer-related fatigue and overall quality of life in head and neck cancer patients after treatment. Lastly, Tualang honey supplementation may offer cardioprotective benefits by improving both cholesterol and cardiac enzyme levels.4
Adding Tualang Honey to Your Routine
So, what’s the final verdict? Is Tualang honey worth shelling out the extra cash? There’s no doubt that this honey benefits our health in many ways, and if you can afford it, you will get more bang for your buck. However, Manuka honey and raw honey, though to a lesser extent, will provide many of the same health benefits.
You won't find as many confusing acronyms on a Tualang honey label as you will with Manuka honey, as there is no official grading system for this type. But Tualang can be added to your daily routine in all the same ways, from taking it by the spoonful to spreading it on toast to adding it to tea, smoothies, or oatmeal. Also, as with other honeys, be sure to enjoy it in moderation—it's fairly high in sugar.
This article was published by Better Homes & Gardens on 9/27/2023