Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Honey: Its Effects on Anxiety and Memory in Adult Rats

Presentation by Lynne Chepulis and Nicola Starkey, University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand


* Cognitive ability is one of the main functions known to decline with age - oxidative damage
* Hyperglycemia involved in brain damage
* Link between glucose intolerance and diabetes with cognitive impairment
* Low glycemic foods may help to prevent this


* Has a low glycemic index
* Many honey’s have high antioxidant contents
* Antioxidants offset oxidative damage in the brain
* Previously honey has been shown to significantly decrease weight gain, improve HDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels
* In people, honey consumption increases serum antioxidant content


* To investigate whether long term feeding of honey can offset age related cognitive decline in rats
* Formed part of a larger study which examined other biochemical and physiological measures


* Forty three Sprague Dawley rats (aged 2 months) were fed diets containing either 8% sucrose, 10% honey (honey is 20% water) or a sugar free diet for 12 months
* Diets prepared to approximate the composition of a typical NZ diet (15% protein, 35% fat, 45% carbohydrate)
* Weight assessed every 2 weeks, food intake every two months
* Behaviour assessed every 3 months on the EPM and Y maze

Key Findings:

* Honey fed rats were less anxious at all time points but anxiety decreased in all rats over time
* Activity levels were similar across all groups, decreasing between 6 and 12 months
* Spatial recognition improved in honey fed rats
* Honey rats had lower blood sugar and cholesterol
* Two benefits – antioxidant effects and low GI index

Further Questions:

* How much honey needs to be eaten to see these effects?
* Are effects due to low GI or antioxidant properties?
* More studies needed to clarify the effects on learning
* Dairy companies may begin using honey as a sweetener in yoghurts, etc.

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