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Buckwheat honey is made from pollen collected by bees who visit the buckwheat plant. Unlike other types of honey, it is very dark in color. It also has a much stronger flavor than other varieties. The dark color usually means that it has more minerals and antioxidants than other types of honey. It is also said to help suppress coughs better than cough syrup.
The term buckwheat in this use may be confusing because it has no relation to wheat, and is instead a flowering plant. Usually, the plant produces pink flowers that attract bees. The seeds of buckwheat may be used to make flour or as if they were a cereal. Buckwheat honey is generally produced in several northern U.S. states as well as in Canada. The buckwheat plant is no longer grown as much as it once was, so many honey producers in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania grow it specifically for honey production rather than for use as a flour.
Another name for buckwheat honey is black honey, due to its very dark color. It is not actually black but a very dark amber or copper hue. With honey, a darker color usually means it contains more antioxidants, minerals, and flavor than lighter-hued honeys, such as tupelo or clover honey.
The flavor of buckwheat honey is closer to molasses than other honey varieties. It has a rich taste and is not as sweet. Some people may think that buckwheat honey tastes more bitter or malt-like than other honeys.
A 2007 study of 105 children with coughs found that buckwheat honey was more effective at suppressing cough than a pharmaceutical cough syrup. The honey reduced coughing throughout the night and allowed children to sleep better that the over-the-counter syrups. Honeys made from buckwheat may be most effective at treating coughs due to the antioxidant and mineral content. It is possible that other honeys also work in this way.
Many people prefer to buy raw honey for its health benefits, mineral content, and taste. Some honey is pasteurized, which means it has been heated. Pasteurization may remove some of the antioxidants, however. Additionally, some buckwheat honeys are not made purely of buckwheat. A person can tell that the honey is pure buckwheat by looking at the color. It should be very dark and almost opaque. A honey that is lighter in color is commonly made from a blend of plant sources, and is not 100% buckwheat honey.