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Honey – there’s more to it than you think


Honey – there’s more to it than you think
By Janette Busch

While honey has the reputation of being a healthy food to consume, nevertheless, some people choose not to eat it because they consider it to be only a source of sugars that give no special health benefits.

Researchers in the Agriculture and Life Sciences Division at Lincoln University have recently completed the first study of the health promoting compounds of a range of honeys and honeydew produced in New Zealand. They discovered that some honeys contain health promoting compounds such as antioxidants and that the colour of the darker honeys may be an indication that they also contain high levels of minerals.

The work was carried out by Lisa Daginder, an exchange student from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Skara, Sweden who was studying at Lincoln University for three months under the supervision of Professor Geoffrey Savage of the Food Group at Lincoln University.

The honey studied all came from single varieties of flowers (mono-floral) and included: manuka, clover, rata, vipers bugloss, kamahi, nodding thistle, honeydew, rewarewa, tawari and thyme provided by Airborne Honey Limited of Canterbury.

Lisa analysed the antioxidant content and activity and physical properties of the different honeys as part of her final industrial project for a Bachelor of Food Science Technology.
Because of the high quality of her work, Lisa was awarded first prize for the project by her University in Sweden.

Honeydew and thyme honey contained the highest levels of phenol compared to the other honeys, while thyme and rewarewa had the highest antioxidant activity of the ten honeys giving them the potential to play an important role in providing antioxidants to humans in a pleasant from.

“I had never heard about honeydew until I came to New Zealand,” said Lisa.

Lisa said honeydew was interesting to study for several reasons, its relatively high antioxidant properties and phenol content which make it a rich source of antioxidants, its dark-red colour and its taste.

“Honeydew does not sell well in New Zealand shops despite its interesting and pleasant taste,” said Lisa.

“My work with honeydew showed it would make a worthwhile contribution to a healthy diet and that aspect should aid Airborne Honey in marketing this product.”

“I really enjoyed my time at Lincoln University. It was a really interesting project that gave me the opportunity to put into practice all the theoretical study from throughout my degree combined with the opportunity to study in a foreign country.


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