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New Study Finds That Honey May Aid in Absorption of Calcium

April 8, 2005 Longmont, CO - A new study conducted at Purdue University showed that consuming honey along with supplemental calcium enhanced calcium absorption in rats. In addition, the absorption of calcium was increased as the amount of honey was increased. The study, led by Dr. Berdine Martin of Purdue University, was presented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology meeting, April 2-5, 2005 in San Diego.

“Many adults struggle to get the recommended amounts of calcium in their daily diet,” said Dr. Katherine Beals, nutrition consultant to the National Honey Board.

According to the recently released Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis (Oct 14, 2004), "By 2020, half of all American citizens older than 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass if no immediate action is taken by individuals at risk, health care professionals, health systems, and policymakers."

Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent” disease because many of those afflicted are completely unaware that they suffer from it. In fact, four times as many men and three times as many women have osteoporosis than report it.

One of the key strategies for reducing the likelihood of developing low bone mass (and subsequent osteoporosis) is to consume the recommended amounts of calcium. It is also important that the calcium consumed be absorbed by the body. Dietary factors that have been shown to enhance the absorption of calcium include vitamin D and the sugars found in honey.

In the Purdue University study, rats were given a “labeled” dose of calcium alone, or with 200 mg. of honey, 500 mg. of honey, 800 mg. of honey, 800 mg. of a glucose fructose mixture made to resemble honey, 10.75 mg. of raffinose, or 200 mg. of raffinose. After two days, the calcium absorption into the hind leg bones of the rats was measured. Compared to the control group, rats given 800 mg. and 500 mg. of honey showed a 33.6% and 25.5% increase in calcium absorption, respectively. These results indicate that honey and its carbohydrate constituents, specifically glucose, fructose and raffinose, may enhance calcium absorption.

“Although this study was done with rats, the preliminary results are very compelling” said Dr. Beals. “Of course we would have to replicate the experiment in a human sample to see if the same holds true for people.”

Funding for this study was provided by the National Honey Board. Based in Longmont, Colorado, the National Honey Board provides consumers with honey information and recipes at, and serves U.S. honey producers, packers and importers through honey research, promotion and marketing.

Health to drive honey choice for food formulations?

10/22/2004- Health-promoting compounds found in honey could make this ingredient a more attractive option for food makers currently using bulk sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup and looking to jump on board the growing health foods trend, say scientists in the US.

Researchersat the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say that honey may be a healthier alternative to corn syrup due to its higher level of antioxidants, compounds which are believed to fight cancer, heart disease and other diseases.

Honey, which contains a number of antioxidant components that act as preservatives, also shows promise as a replacement for some synthetic antioxidants widely used as preservatives in salad dressings and other foods, according to Nicki Engeseth, associate professor of food chemistry at the university.

High fructose syrups, known as isoglucose in Europe, kicked off in the US in the 1970s when the country developed new technologies to process this bulk calorific sweetener. The ingredient, an alternative to sucrose, rapidly gained in popularity and is now used extensively by soft drinks makers such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

Honey, a natural syrup produced by bees is similar to invert sugar, with a small but variable excess of levulose (fructose). The composition and flavour of honey varies with the plant source of the nectar, processing and storage but a typical composition is 41 per cent fructose, 34 per cent glucose, 18 per cent water, and 2 per cent sucrose with a pH of 3.8 to 4.2.

According to the US researchers, dark-coloured honey, such as buckwheat honey, is generally thought to contain higher levels of antioxidants than the light-coloured varieties. Previous studies by the researchers, who presented their findings this week at the American Chemical Society meeting in Illinois, suggest that honey may have the same level of disease-fighting antioxidants as that of some common fruits.

Competition for European suppliers of honey ramped up recently when Brussels cleared the way to end a two-year ban on food imports from China, paving the way for cheaper raw materials for honey formulations.

Meeting at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in July member states cleared a Commission proposal to allow Chinese imports of honey, lifting a ban imposed on the product in 2002 after the antibiotic – chloramphenicol –was found to be present.

In international terms China is currently by far the largest honey producing nation in the world, with around a 40 per cent slice of the market. The next biggest producers are the US, Argentina and Ukraine.

According to the American Honey Producers Association, China and Argentina have been adversely affecting America’s domestic honey industry with cheap imports, although there is a counter argument that both China and Argentina have been helping to counterbalance falling production in the US. Also starting to emerge onto the world honey production arena are Thailand and Vietnam.

Brief History:

The first known usage of honey was in Ancient Egypt around 40 B.C. It was a common food in most households and often was used as a form of payment or tribute. Ancient Greeks used honey as balm for sores and cuts. They also believed it to be the food of the gods and used it as an offering to the spirits. In the Old Testament John the Baptist ate honey, as did the prophets Elijah and Elisha.

Honey was also used as a medicine for both internal and external diseases in the Middle Ages.

Honey fell from favor when antibiotic dressings were developed during World War II. However new research is proving the medicinal benefits of honey.

The Research:

After nearly 20 years of research, New Zealand biochemist, Peter Molan came to the conclusion that honey cleans and heals wounds better than the medicines used in hospitals. About 50 studies, published in the British Journal of Surgery and other journals, attest to honey's ability to maintain a moist healing environment, banish infection, promote new skin growth and prevent scarring. There have been randomized, controlled trials which have proved that honey is more effective than the two most widely used treatments for burns.

How it Works:

Bees add enzymes to nectar to turn it into honey. One of those enzymes produces hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid, which both help to clean wounds and kill bacteria. Honey releases its hydrogen peroxide slowly, so it is less damaging to skin than the kind you by at the drugstore. Honey's thickness provides a protective barrier for wounds.

Uses of Honey:

Honey contains antioxidants, a wide array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Heals wounds, burns, cataracts, skin ulcers, sores and scrapes.
Provides a protective barrier for wounds.
Kills bacteria and germs.
Reduces inflammation.
It's amino acids and vitamin C speed the growth of healthy tissue.
It's a natural source of energy. It enlivens the body, makes muscles stronger, refreshes nerves, cheers up, Sharpens the mind, and gives sound sleep.
Helps reduce chest disorders, coughs, heavy breathing, and insomnia.
Soothes sore throats.



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