Monday, January 21, 2019

Health Benefits of Honey, Bee Pollen

Healthy living with bees: Investigating the antioxidant properties of honey and pollen


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Bees rather handily produce a wide range of health-promoting substances, including honey, beeswax, propolis and royal jelly. Even the pollen that bees collect along with the nectar has health benefits. Many of these benefits derive from the fact that these substances are rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and other polyphenols, which soak up harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Now, chemists from Portugal and Algeria, led by Ana Oliveira-Brett from the University of Coimbra, have come up with a quick and easy analytical process, comprising several comparatively simple analytical techniques, for investigating in detail the antioxidant properties of bee products...

Honey and pollen

They first tested this analytical process on 10 samples of honey from Greece, Portugal, Algeria and Romania, and two samples of pollen from Portugal and Romania. This involved first extracting the polyphenols from the honey and pollen samples by immersing them in a mixture of water, ethanol and methanol, and then exposing them to ultrasound.

DP voltammetry and the DPPH spectrophotometric assay revealed that the extracted polyphenols possessed high levels of antioxidant activity, with the results from both techniques tending to agree with each other.  HPLC-ED revealed that all the honey and pollen samples contained a similar range of polyphenols, including several anthocyanidins and flavanols, although they differed in their concentrations.

These results also indicated that the relationship between polyphenol concentration and antioxidant activity isn’t entirely straightforward. Among the honeys, a honey from Portugal had the highest polyphenol concentrations, even though a Greek honey had the highest antioxidant activity.

Finally, the chemists conducted the gel electrophoresis step with four of the honey samples and one of the pollen samples. This showed that, irrespective of their antioxidant activities or polyphenol concentrations, all the samples helped to protect the DNA from damage by soaking up the ROS.

These findings not only confirm the health benefits of honey and pollen, but also raise the possibility of using this analytical process to explore the health benefits of the various other bee products as well.

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