Interesting properties of honey

Honey is a natural sweetener, but it also has some healing properties.

Honey has a long history as a natural sweetener. This is because it contains about 95 percent sugar, including fructose and glucose. There have been several health claims that honey is a good substitute for sugar, but none have been proven. Calorie content is actually higher in honey than sugar, although, not as much honey is needed to sweeten. Many will agree that honey is tasty, but there is something you might not have known – it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

For centuries, people have used honey not only as a sweetener, but as a home remedy as well. Along with the high amount of carbohydrates, small amounts of vitamins and minerals are also found in honey. The content is not enough to meet the recommended dietary intakes (RDIs), but it still may contribute to the functional properties of honey.

The flavonoids and phenolic compounds found in honey are responsible for its antioxidant characteristics. Antioxidants reduce free radicals which are atoms with unpaired electrons that can harm your body. Honey that is darker in color has been found to contain more antioxidants than lighter honey.

Scientists have done studies proving that honey is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Research has shown that honey has been effective in healing wounds and other skin ailments. The anti-inflammatory aspect helps to reduce swelling, while the antibacterial aspect allows new tissue to grow more quickly, speeding up the healing process.

Contributing to its antibacterial quality is the natural acidity of honey. The pH of honey varies from about 3.2-4.5, which makes it difficult for certain pathogens to grow. For example, the E. coli bacteria cannot grow unless it is in an environment with a pH of 4.3 or higher.

Concentration also plays a role in how effective honey can be against bacteria. Since honey is mostly sugar, it has low moisture content. The higher the concentration, the more useful it is in fighting bacteria. There have been claims to other benefits of honey, but scientists are still researching those possibilities.

Michigan State University Extension recommends consuming honey in moderation, since it is so high in sugar. Antioxidants can be acquired from other sources such as fruits and vegetables.