Study focuses on antioxidant capacity of honey

June 24, 2001

Characterization will help in understanding antioxidant behavior in food systems and in the human diet

NEW ORLEANS, LA - Antioxidants in honey from different floral sources were identified and quantified at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. These results were presented today at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists. Antioxidants continue to be the hot topic in product development circles, as science is looking beyond basic nutrition to nutraceutical substances.

This study characterized the specific antioxidant content of seven varieties of honey. The antioxidant properties of these seven varieties of honey were analyzed using the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay. Components identified in the honeys included phenolic compounds, ascorbic acid, and the enzymes glucose oxidase, catalase, and peroxidase. Antioxidant capacity of the honeys investigated appeared to be primarily due to their phenolic composition as opposed to enzymatic antioxidants and ascorbic acid. Enzyme activity and ascorbic acid were very low, if not undetectable, in all honeys tested. ORAC values ranged from 3.1 to 16.3 mmol Trolox equivalent/g honey, the darkest colored honey having the highest ORAC value. Chromatograms of phenolic fractions of honeys indicated that most honeys have similar but quantitatively different phenolic profiles. A previous study at the same university, using spectophotometry, determined that the antioxidant capacity of honey varied by floral source. That study did not determine the individual honey compounds that are responsible for the activity.

Characterization of honey helps in understanding its antioxidant behavior and therefore its use as a natural food ingredient and as a source of antioxidants in the human diet. Researchers at the university are now studying the effect of honey on the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation in the blood.

Zuckerman Fernandes & Partners

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