Honey: A Source Of Bioavailable Antioxidants:
Nutritionists advise consuming more antioxidant-rich food to help protect our bodies from cellular damage.
Antioxidants are enzymes that protect cells from free radicals by chemically changing them into harmless compounds, like, oxygen and water.
Thus, the excess free radical activity can seriously decrease our body antioxidant reserves. We have three common vitamins i.e., vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E which are essential dietary antioxidants.
Benefits of antioxidants:
- Its unique ability to hunt free radicals.
- It absorbs molecular damage.
- It helps delay the ageing process.
- It prevents the development of declining health problems. In other words, reducing heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
- It helps in stabilizing cell membranes.
- It helps to inhibit or to control excessive oxidation.
- Finally, it protects proteins, fats, and other substances in the body from oxidative damage.
The amount and type of these antioxidant compounds depend primarily upon the floral source and variety of the honey. As a result, it contains several compounds with antioxidant potential.
Darker honey, for instance, buckwheat and Manuka tend to be higher in antioxidants, compare to lighter honey, for example, sage, clover, and fireweed. However, the antioxidant content of honey cannot be compared with the amount of antioxidant found in rich fruits and vegetables.
Yet, honey provides a reliable additional source of nutritional antioxidants that are easy for the body to digest and utilize.
Honey Antioxidant Research:
Buckwheat honey scored the highest among all the honey tested along with Hawaiian Christmas Berry, soy, tupelo, and clover honey.
Fireweed and Acacia honey scored the lowest with less than one-third of the antioxidant activities of buckwheat and half of that of clover.
Researchers noted that the individual levels of other antioxidant compounds found in honey are too low to have a significant individual antioxidant importance of their own.
However, the total antioxidant capacity of honey, probably, is the result of the combined activity and interactions of a wide range of compounds.
The antioxidant activity of honey from four different floral sources, firstly, two “light” varieties, for instance, Acacia and coriander.
Secondly, two “dark” varieties, for example, Sidr and palm determine whether honey can inhibit oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
The darker varieties had higher antioxidant capacities when tested on LDL. The researchers found that “all honey samples (the darker and the lighter) and in all concentrations, were highly effective against LDL peroxidation.
Which Honey Has More Antibacterial Activity?
There are hundreds of honey varieties available across the world.
None of the research has concluded the most “antibacterial” honey availability. Hence, it’s difficult to say one type of honey may be more effective against specific bacteria than others.
In a study, undertaken at the University of Georgia, the researchers found that the growth of S. sonnei, a foodborne pathogen was significantly more inhibited by Chinaso buckwheat honey than the other test varieties.
By contrast, avocado honey scored higher in inhibiting the growth of S. Typhimurium, which is another foodborne pathogen.
The Power Of Manuka:
One of the most exciting developments and discovery in the investigation of Manuka Honey is that it is made from the flowers of New Zealand’s Manuka trees (Leptospermum scoparium). It seems to be especially powerful.
It kills bacteria and doesn’t depend upon hydrogen peroxide activity as well.
The antibacterial component found in Leptospermum plants is unique. For this reason, why there is the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). The test is to assess the UMF levels, reflecting antibacterial strength as distinct from hydrogen peroxide activity. After that, two discoveries have clarified on this mysterious “unique Manuka factor.”
The component of Manuka honey stimulates immune cells via the molecule TLR4. Therefore, It plays a key role in the body’s innate immune system.
The Properties Of Manuka Honey:
Ultimately, In the laboratory test, UMF-rated Manuka Honey declared that it has several outstanding healing properties:
- Inhibits the growth of Heliobacter pylori.
- kills Citrobacter freundii, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, and Streptococcus faecalis.
- Superior to other honey in treating infected wounds.
- Can totally inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus during an 8 hour incubation period.
- More effective than other honey against Streptococcus pyogenes.
Manuka Honey has more potent antioxidant potential. As a result, it works twice as fast as the other honey varieties.
Contrary to the above laboratory test of Manuka honey. Sidr honey which is harvested and least researched in India probably has similar properties of Manuka honey.
The much hype and talk about the properties of Manuka honey is the result of its wide research across the worlds. Whereas Sidr honey has not been researched to this level. Hence the popularity of Sidr is quite less.
If the laboratory test of Sidr honey is conducted, then this will also be wide and popular across the world.
Moreover, Sidr honey is more affordable than Manuka honey with the same natural properties.
The Testing Criteria:
Manuka Honey samples undergo two special tests developed by ‘The Honey Research Unit’, at the University of Waikato before they can classify as UMF-grade honey.
- The first test designs to reflect “Total Activity”.
Note: A Total Activity rating shows all the antibacterial activity of the honey without differentiating between enzyme and UMF activity. Any type of honey can have a Total Activity rating too.
- The second test designs to reveal specific UMF activity in honey.
After the Total Activity rating is set up, a catalase is added to the honey sample to destroy any enzyme activity. Then, the “UMF activity” of the honey is measured. It can range from a rating of zero to twenty.
What Do The UMF Ratings Mean?
A rating of zero to four shows that the UMF factor is not detectable, whereas a rating from five to ten shows that the honey can be used only for maintenance levels.
- Manuka Honey, with UMF ratings of 10 to 15 is useful for most types of wound treatment.
- Those with 15 and above are classified as “superior”.
- Manuka Honey, with a rating of 10 or above is sufficient for clinical use.
To prevent the misuse of active Manuka Honey, a group of producers known as the Active Manuka Honey Association registered “UMF” as a trademark. Therefore, only licensed companies that meet specific criteria described by the Honey Research Unit and the AMHA can use both the name and trademark.
Manuka honey, without any question, posses uncomparable natural properties. However, SIDR honey also poses a similar property. Tough extensive clinical studies are not done. But it is evident from the feedback of consumers of Sidr honey.
One can consider Sidr honey as an economic alternative to manuka honey.