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J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Oct 9;50(21):5870-7.

Identification and quantification of antioxidant components of honeys from various floral sources.

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 259 ERML, 1201 West Gregory Drive, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


Little is known about the individual components of honey that are responsible for its antioxidant activity. The present study was carried out to characterize the phenolics and other antioxidants present in honeys from seven floral sources. Chromatograms of the phenolic nonpolar fraction of the honeys indicated that most honeys have similar but quantitatively different phenolic profiles. Many of the flavonoids and phenolic acids identified have been previously described as potent antioxidants. A linear correlation between phenolic content and ORAC activity was demonstrated (R(2) = 0.963, p < 0.0001). Honeys were separated by solid-phase extraction into four fractions for sugar removal and separation based on solubility to identify the relative contribution of each fraction to the antioxidant activity of honey. Antioxidant analysis of the different honey fractions suggested that the water-soluble fraction contained most of the antioxidant components. Specific water-soluble antioxidant components were quantified, including protein; gluconic acid; ascorbic acid; hydroxymethylfuraldehyde; and the combined activities of the enzymes glucose oxidase, catalase and peroxidase. Of these components, a significant correlation could be established only between protein content and ORAC activity (R(2) = 0.674, p = 0.024). In general, the antioxidant capacity of honey appeared to be a result of the combined activity of a wide range of compounds including phenolics, peptides, organic acids, enzymes, Maillard reaction products, and possibly other minor components. The phenolic compounds contributed significantly to the antioxidant capacity of honey but were not solely responsible for it.

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