Honey Composition and Nutritional Value

 

Honey contains more than 180 different substances the complex interrelation of which makes artificial production of honey impossible. The composition and nutritional value of honey differ in relation to the floral sources honeybees have visited. For example, recent research supports the claim that dark coloured honeys have larger amounts of antioxidants. The inorganic contents of honey, minerals and other trace elements, play a significant role in human metabolism and nutrition. Owing to its choline content, honey is appreciated as an excellent tonic and helps people suffering from constipation and other enteric problems.

(38.2% fructose, 31.0% glucose,17.1% water, 7.2% maltose, 4.2% trisaccharides & other carbohydrates, 1.5% sucrose, 0.5% minerals, vitamins, enzymes).

 

CARBOHYDRATES:
The two main sugars (80-90%) contained in honey, i.e. fructose and glucose.

ORGANIC ACIDS:
More than 18 different acids (gluconic, citric, melic, formic, etc.) have been identified in honey.

PROTEINS AND AMINOACIDS:
Small quantities of proteins and aminoacids have been identified in honey.
The aminoacids come from the pollen.

MINERALS:
(Trace-elements)
The most important elements identified in dark colour honeys (e.g. pine, eucalyptus, heath honeys, etc.) are calcium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, silicon, iron, manganese, copper, etc.

ENZYMES:
These are found in small quantities but contribute significantly to the structure of honey. They come from the pollen, nectar or produced by the honeybees themselves.

VITAMINS:

Honey is rather low in vitamin content. However, we cannot ignore them since they help the human body absorb the sugars in honey. The main vitamins found in honey are: A1, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E, folic acid, etc.

ANTIOXIDANTS

In general, darker honeys and those high in water content have stronger antioxidant potential. The antioxidants identified thus far are pinocembrin, pinobanksin, chrysin and galagin. Pinocembrin is unique to honey and found in the highest amount relative to other antioxidants. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), catalase and selenium are also present.

ANTIMICROBIAL ACTION OF HONEY

The antimicrobial action of honey has been known since antiquity, as is evidenced by ancient texts on the practical applications of this precious substance. This has been corroborated by Arab and Middle Age texts. In his book "Principles of Medicine", Arab physician Avicenna (1000 BC) provides numerous recipes and recommendations concerning the application of honey for treating wounds. For example, he recommended a certain paste made from honey and wheat as cataplasm for deep wounds. Raw honey has been proved to promote the development of the cutaneous epithelium in lab animals with wounds. The antibacterial action of honey (particularly of Greek origin) became the object of an investigation by the Hellenic Ministry of Health. The research results were announced during the 8th Pan-Hellenic Pharmaceutical Conference. According to assistant professor of Pharmacology, University of Athens, Dr, loanna Henou, raw honey was tested against bacterial action and found to produce interesting results. Further investigations in this area are under serious consideration. The Romans preserved fruit and meat in vessels topped with honey. In Medieval texts we read that honey was used as medicine against snakebites and rabies. A popular remedy for sore throat and pharyngitis was a warm solution of water and honey or honey and raki or other potent local drink.
Modern research has proved that honey prevents the development of bacteria and other pathogenic organisms. Even today honey is considered suitable for the cleaning and treatment of minor wounds and burns.

 

ANTIMICROBIAL PROPERTIES

The factors that may contribute to the antimicrobial properties of honey are:

1. High osmotic pressure, low water activity
2. Low PH
3. Acids - Phenolic
4. Low protein content
5. High carbon to nitrogen ratio
6. Glucose oxidase system
7. Benzyl alcohol
8. Chemical agents
9. Low redox potential (due to high content of reducing sugar)
10. Viscosity opposes convection currents and limits dissolved oxygen
11. Lysozyme
12. Terpenes
13. Volatile substances

HONEY OR SUGAR?

Honey contains at least 180 different substances that are combined in such a way that artificial reproduction of honey is impossible. Honey is a natural sweetener, which is not the case with sugar, particularly the white form that results from chemical processing. Sugars play a significant role in the proper function of the human body. All carbohydrates, whether simple sugars or complex carbohydrates, must be broken down to glucose, or blood sugars, before the body can use them as energy sources. The sugars in honey are primarily glucose and fructose and although the body absorbs them in different ways, both provide the body with quick energy. Recent research supports the claim that honey sugars are absorbed fast to provide energy to athletes and run down organisms. People suffering from infections or anemia recuperate much faster supplementing their regime with regular intakes of honey. Nevertheless, prior to choosing treatments alternative to those prescribed, it would be wiser to consult with your doctor.

HONEY AND BEAUTY

The famous queen of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, is described as a woman of exceptional beauty. History informs us that Cleopatra used a mixture of fresh milk and honey in her bath. The legendary queen of the Nile maintained her skin soft, smooth and shiny owing to the skin-enhancing qualities of honey.
Madame du Barry, the mistress of Louis XV, used a facial mask from honey all her life. The Chinese empresses mixed ground orange seeds in honey to give their skin a white complexion and keep it spot free. Manufacturers have used honey in everything from hand lotions and moisturizers to bar soaps and bubble baths. Honey is a humectant, which means that it attracts and retains moisture. This makes honey a natural fit for a variety of moisturizing products including cleaners, creams, shampoos and conditioners. Honey also acts as an anti-irritant, making it suitable for sensitive skin and baby care products. If pure honey is used in combination with olive oil it can be quite effective in the treatment of minor wounds.

Facial mask with flour and honey:

30 gr. flour (hard, wheat)
20 gr. water
30 gr. honey (pine)
a few drops of rose water

Use a spatula to mix all ingredients in a bowl to soft and watery pulp. Apply pulp on face. Let mask on face for 30 minutes and then remove using a wet towel soaked and squeezed in lukewarm water.