pouring honey into jar of honey

These days, regular white sugar is hardly the only option on supermarket shelves. There's a wide variety of sweetener options like stevia, erythritol, and sucralose, for starters, but none have stood the test of time in the same way as nature's oldest and purest sweetener, honey.

“It's not just versatile, varied and delicious. Research has shown that honey contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants,” the National Honey Board explains. “Flavonoids and phenolic acids, which act as antioxidants, are found in honey. The amount and type of these compounds depends largely on the floral source.” Honey doesn’t come in just one variety. In fact, there are over 300 different types—two of which are the most pure forms and are often used interchangeably. Keep reading for the difference between clover and natural honey.

Not all honey is created equal

Starting at the very beginning, honey is made when bees extract nectar from flowers and deposit it into a honeycomb. Every form of honey differs based on the flower it comes from, and its acidity depends on the floral sources that created it. That means a honey with a high pH level of 6 is most likely purer than a honey with a lower pH level of 3. This can affect its sweetness, flavor, and how our bodies process it after a morning bowl of oatmeal.

Clover honey comes from clover blossoms

Clover honey is one of the most popular varieties and likely the kind sitting on the table at brunch. This type is sourced from the nectar of clover blossoms and hasn't been processed, heated, or pasteurized at all.

Most are accustomed to eating this lighter, more commercialized type of honey because of its mild sweetness and smoothness. And it's not only good for those enjoying it — it's good for farmers, too. The clover from clover crops helps replenish nutrients into the soil that are ordinarily lost on other crops. Plus, the crop works well in a drought environment and helps prevent soil erosion — a win-win for everyone involved.

Natural honey, on the other hand, is much more robust

Natural pure honey has nothing added to it such as sugar, corn syrup, or other flavorings. This makes it much darker both in color and flavor. Honey must be labeled raw, however, in order for it to be completely unfiltered, unheated, or unpasteurized.

Most commercial honeys may be natural but are only pure if they contain no other flavorings or changes. Think dried honey for mixed drinks, spicy honey for fried chicken, or fruit-flavored honey to drizzle onto waffles. And though neither has the power to cure diseases, both are good sources of antioxidants and a powerful way to fight inflammation. Plus, it'll satisfy the sweet tooth without pumping alternative fake sugars into your system.

Honey is just one of many sweetener options on the market, but its versatility and variations keeps it an always current trend on the market. And under the big umbrella of the bees, clover and natural honey provide varying tastes and health benefits. Some may prefer a strong, raw honeycomb taste, whereas others reach for something a bit more mild. Either way, one thing is a definite: Honey isn’t a trend that’ll soon go out of style. It’s a sweetener eaters can count on seeing way into the future and beyond.