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Use honey to eliminate “free-radicals”

Free radicals and reactive oxygen species have been implicated in contributing to aging and to many disease states including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Humans protect themselves from reactive oxygen species, in part, by absorbing dietary antioxidants. Honey is one agricultural product that can be a rich source of phenolic antioxidants such as 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, and 4-hydroxycinnamic acid.

Darker Honey derived from buckwheat, for example, can provide up to 2 milligrams of phenolic antioxidants per gram of honey. In addition, many honeys provide small amounts of vitamin antioxidants such as Vitamin C.

Here we report the comparative effects of consuming 150 grams of corn syrup or buckwheat honey on plasma phenolic content and on plasma antioxidant capacity in healthy human subjects (n=10/treatment group). Corn syrup contained 0.21 ± 0.06 mg of phenolic antioxidants per gram. The two buckwheat honeys, designated honey- and honey+ contained 0.79 ± 0.02 and 1.71 ± .21 mg of phenolic antioxidants per gram. Plasma phenolics were detected using AGAC and HPLC methods. Antioxidant capacity was assessed using Prussian-blue and TRAP methodology.

Following consumption of the two honey treatments, plasma phenolic content increased in subjects (P<0.05). Likewise, the honey treatments effectively increased the ability of plasma from subjects to reduce metal ions (Prussian-blue; P<0.05) and scavenge free radicals (TRAP; P<0.05). Data from this investigation support the conclusion that phenolic antioxidants from honey are bioavailable and convey antioxidant protection to healthy human subjects.

Since more than 150 pounds of sugar are consumed by each U.S. citizen every year, results from this investigation strongly suggest that if honey was substituted for sweeteners traditionally used in food products, it could substantially improve total antioxidant intake by humans. In a separate study in Prevention magazine, September 2002, there was a report from the University of Illinois, presenting data showing that honey is rich in heart-protecting antioxidants. The principle researcher, Dr. Nicki Engeseth, reported that honey slowed the oxidation of bad LDL cholesterol in human blood. Dr. Engeseth was quoted, “Honey — the darker the better — dramatically slowed the rate of formation of conjugated dienes, products of oxidation related to LDL in blood. Darker honey had the highest levels of any of the honey tested — about 3 times the antioxidants as acacia honey, a much lighter honey. Dr. Engeseth said that 8 ounces of honey gave as much protection as 8 ounces of melon, but who is going to suck down 8 ounces of honey? So, continue to eat your antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, but choose honey anytime you must choose a sweetener.

D. D. Schramm, C. L. Keen. Dept. of Nutrition, Univ. of California-Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616. itt.contex.com/itt/2D02/techprogram/paper_10726.htm