CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Two new University of Illinois studies are sweet news to honey lovers. One shows that honeys antioxidant qualities preserve meat without compromising taste. A just-published study says that honey at least based on work done on human blood in the lab slows the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), a process that leads to atherosclerotic plaque deposition.
Like a UI study in 1999, researchers found in both studies that dark-colored honey, especially buckwheat, provided more protective punch than lighter-colored honeys. It still is too early to say definitively, but honey seems to have the potential to serve as a dietary antioxidant, said principal researcher Nicki Engeseth, a professor of food chemistry in the UI College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
The newest study published online April 6 in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry is the first to look at honeys effect on human blood. The study also found, using a much more precise method than the one used in 1999, that honeys antioxidants are equal to those in many fruits and vegetables in their ability to counter the degenerating activity of highly reactive molecules known as free radicals.
In January, Engeseth and Jason McKibben, a researcher with Anheuser Busch in Santa Monica, Calif., reported in the same journal that honey was more effective than traditional preservatives (butylated hydroxytoluene and tocopherol) in slowing oxidation in cooked, refrigerated ground turkey.
While the meat browned during cooking more extensively than traditionally preserved products, taste was not negatively affected. For the just-published study, Engeseth and Nele Gheldof, a doctoral student in the department of food science and human nutrition, measured the antioxidant and phenolic contents in honeys taken from seven floral sources.
The study covered acacia, buckwheat, clover, fireweed, Hawaiian Christmas berry, soybean and tupelo honeys.
Contact: Jim Barlow
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign