HONEY COMPOSITION

Chemical composition of natural bee honey is rather unstable (lots of factors have an influence upon it: plant species whose nectar was gathered, weather at the time when nectar-bearing plant was in bloom, quantity of sunny days, humidity, air temperature, soil conditions, diligence of the bee family and, certainly, industry of the bee-keeper). However, some peculiar features of honey composition are typical and characteristic. Honey composition is rather complex, it consists of approximately 300 different components, 100 of which are constant, present in every honey type.

    • Carbohydrates (fructose, glucose, sucrose) — about 80%
    • Water – 16 to 20%;
    • Proteins (ferments; amino acids and other organic and inorganic acids) – 0.2 to 2.3%;
    • Mineral substances – up to 0.6%
    • Vitamins, organic acids, fragrant substances, phytoncides, flavonoids, hydroxymethylfurfurol, hormones, lipids.
    • Energy value of 100 g of honey (i.e. approximately 5 tablespoons) is 304 kcal or 1272 kJ.

The main component of honey are carbohydrates dissolved in a little quantity of water due to what 100 g of bee honey can satisfy 10% of the daily energy need of an adult. Total number of sugars in honey is about 25, the main being monosaccharides: glucose or grape sugar (27-36%) and fructose or fruit sugar (37-42%). There is also sucrose. Honey in which sucrose prevails has greater thickness and forms large soft granules whereas honey with monosaccharides prevailing gets granulated unevenly and its granules are significantly smaller.

Carbohydrates in the human body are the basic energy material. The main consumers of glucose are nervous system and skeletal muscles. When sugar content in blood decreases, both mental and physical efficiency of a person become lower. Both glucose and fructose are required for normal functioning of cardiac muscle and restoration of its efficiency. Glucose is assimilated very quickly and produces an immediate energy influx whereas fructose is absorbed slowly and provides “stable” energy. Honey with fructose prevailing is recommended for treatment of lever disorders, alcohol intoxication, for people with disorders of pancreas and as a substitution of sugar for those suffering diabetes mellitus because it is more readily digested by the body than sugar and provides it with energy quickly enough.

Water content influences honey preservation greatly. If it is increased (over 22%) and special temperature requirements are met, honey can get fermented.

Despite their low concentrations, protein substances are very important components of honey because many of them belong to ferments. As we know, no biochemical process in our body is possible without their participation.

Without ferments the human body would die of exhaustion even if the most nutritious food were abundant because this food could not be digested.

Ferments are known to take part in the following processes that are connected with functions of the body and regulation of its self-healing:

        • Healing of injuries, inflammation and swelling;
        • Destruction of premature and dead cells that can accelerate ageing;
        • Elimination of exogenous cells, first of all those that cause diseases and cancer;
        • Prevention of blood clogs from forming or their dissolution (in case of thrombosis and embolism), prevention of deposition on vessel walls (arterial calcinosis).

Numerous healing properties of honey can to some extent be explained by the effect of ferments.

Honey contains various amino acids though their percentage is low. But all of them are well digested by the body that uses them to build new cells or as a base to synthesize ferments and hormones.

Mineral substances of honey are diverse and due to them it is considered to be one of the richest natural food products. Honey contains both macro- (iron, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc.) and microelements (aluminum, copper, manganese, lead, zinc, etc.) — their total number is about 37 substances. Minerals-organic colorants ratio in honey defines its color. Honey rich in iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese is usually of dark-brown color with some reddish shades. Honey also contains chlorine, strontium, boron, molybdenum, iodine that is necessary for health and normal functioning of thyroid gland, fluorine that strengthens dental enamel, and even silver.

Mineral substances are constantly consumed in the process of vital functions of the human body and require constant replenishment with food. Only if the amount of mineral substances replenished is large enough, good well-being, efficiency, active longevity and ability to resists a whole complex of harmful environmental factors become possible. Those living in big cities should consume at least one spoon of honey daily because pollution with heavy metals and toxins prevents the body from absorbing the minerals that are provided with food.

Honey is characterized by acid medium because it contains approximately 0.3% of organic acids (apple, citric, tartaric, amber, lactic, oxalic, acetic, formic and some other acids) and about 0.03% of inorganic acids (phosphoric, chlorohydric acids). They get to honey from nectar, honeydew, pollen and secretions of bees, and they are also created in the process of decomposing and oxidation of sugars.

Active acidity value (pH) influences honey taste significantly. In case of floral honey pH is in the range 3.2 to 6.5, this value for honeydew honey is 3.7 to 5.6, and for white honey it is 4.5 to 7.0. Acidity of fermented or much overheated honey also increases.

A complex of natural vitamins in honey intensifies its healing properties though their amount is not large. For this reason one cannot rely only upon this food product for their replenishment in the body.

The term “vitamin” originates from the Latin word “vita” that means “life”. They are irreplaceable because vitamins are not or almost not synthesized by body cells, so they must be provided with food as a required component. If vitamins are lacking or not replenished in the body for a long time, vitamin deficiency (impaired concentration, increased irritability and fatigability, impaired mental, physical and reproductive abilities, etc.) or avitaminosis (scurvy, rickets, osteoporosis, etc.) can develop. On the other hand, influx of too high doses of vitamins, usually in the form of a vitamin drug taken as self-treatment, can result in hypervitaminosis.

Different honeys contain different quantities of vitamins. It depends greatly on the pollen in a specific honey type. In its turn, the amount and composition of pollen depends on the type of the nectar-bringing plants, the time of nectar gathering, weather conditions, etc. Experiments show that removal of pollen with the help of filters results in almost complete lack of vitamins in honey. Acid medium of honey contributes to slow degrading of vitamins in the process of storing.

Most often honey contains water-soluble B vitamins (folic, nicotinic and pantothenic acids, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine), small amount of vitamins С, Е, К and А.

Vitamins of B group are required for the health of our nervous system, so as a preventive measure to avoid nervous disorders and improve mental activity honey is recommended for people whose work is connected with constant stress and mental workloads. These vitamins also take part in normal structuring and functioning of skin, hair and mucous membranes, prevent allergies, support normal tone of gastrointenstinal tract, regulate carbohydrate exchange, contribute to uric acid clearance, preserve teeth and produce analgetic effect.

Vitamin C is required for healthy exchange in tissues and tissue breathing of the body. It activates prothrombin, promotes pigment exchange and formation of protective forces in the body; supports structuring of bones, muscles, teeth, blood vessels and regulates permeability of capillary endothelium; it has a desensitization effect, improves vital tone of the body, stimulates growth and activates blood circulation.

Vitamin K promotes healthy blood coagulation, and if you chew honey combs from time to time, vitamin A helps to cure bronchial asthma, maxillitis, strengthens gums and dental enamel.

For this reason, if a person consumes honey regularly, the vitamin complex together with other bioactive substances comes to the body and is sure to have a positive effect on health, improves immunobiological reactivity and makes the body resistant to various infections.

If kept for a long time, even under favorable conditions for microorganisms’ development, honey does not get moldy and preserves its high nutritional and gustatory qualities. This fact allows arguing that all natural types of honey have an antimicrobial action. Research shows that honey kills bacteria that cause typhus, paratyphoid fever, dysentery, anthrax and brucellosis.

Antimicrobial effect of various honey types is different and depends on the kind of the plant whose nectar has been gathered. Antimicrobial effect of honey seems to be of complex nature and is defined by quite a few components. These properties are determined by nectar, salivary secretions of bees as well as pollen and propolis with which honey gets in contact in hives.

Due to its complex chemical composition honey is a valuable food product with unsurpassed nutritional and gustatory qualities. At the same time honey also has conserving and healing properties.