Honeydew honeys top antioxidant ratings

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Honey Antioxidant

Honey produced by bees feeding on honeydew have more than double
the radical scavenging activity than honeys from nectars, says new
research from Spain.

A vast body of epidemiological studies has linked increased dietary intake of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables to reduced risks of a range of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The antioxidant properties of honey are well known, and evidence is also surfacing concerning prebiotic benefits of honey.

Moreover, only last year researchers from Purdue University reported that honey in combination with calcium supplements increased the quantity of calcium absorbed and could therefore play a role in boosting bone health.

The new research, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture , indicates that the feeding patterns of the bees has a significant impact on the antioxidant activity of the honey they produce.

"These laboratory results show some aspects that people could use to get an idea about which honeys are likely to have the most potent antioxidant properties," said lead researcher Rosa Ana Pérez.

Researchers Lucia Vela, Cristina de Lorenzo and Pérez, from the Instituto Madrileno de Investigación y Desarrollo Rural, Agrario y Alimentario (IMIDRA), in Madrid, studied 36 honeys from different floral origins and found that honeys produced by bees feeding on honeydew have greater antioxidant properties than those produced by bees feeding on nectar.

The honeys were divided into two classes – nectar honeys, produced by collecting nectar from flowers, or honeydew honeys, produced by collecting fluids that exude from plants, usually after the plants have been visited by plant-sucking insects.

The ability of the honeys to scavenge damaging free radicals was measured using the DPPH (1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl) radical assay.

The average DPPH radical scavenging activity of 19 nectar honeys was 28.7 per cent, said the researchers, while 17 honeydew nectars had a DPPH radical scavenging activity of 66.8 per cent.

"Honeydew honeys showed higher antioxidant capacities as radical-scavenging and antibrowing agents than did nectar honeys," said the researchers.

"Honeydew honeys were generally characterised by higher pH… acidity and darker colour than nectar honeys."

In international terms China is currently by far the largest honey-producing nation in the world, with around a 40 per cent slice of the market.

The next biggest producers are the US, Argentina and Ukraine.

According to the American Honey Producers Association China and Argentina have been adversely affecting America's domestic honey industry with cheap imports, although there is a counter argument that both China and Argentina have been helping to counterbalance falling production in the US.

Source: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture Published on-line, doi: 10.1002/jsfa.2813 "Antioxidant capacity of Spanish honeys and its correlation with polyphenol content and other physicochemical properties" Authors: L. Vela, C. de Lorenzo, R.S. Pérez

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