Composition of Honey

Chemical Composition of Honey


Unsurprisingly, these comprise the major portion of honey - about 82%. The carbohydrates present are the monosaccharides fructose (38.2%) and glucose (31%); and disaccharides (~9%) sucrose, maltose, isomaltose, maltulose, turanose and kojibiose. There are also some oligosaccharides present (4.2%), including erlose, theanderose and panose, formed from incomplete breakdown of the higher saccharides present in nectar and honeydew.

Proteins and Amino Acids

Honey contains a number of enzymes, including invertase, which converts sucrose to glucose and fructose; amylase, which breaks starch down into smaller units; glucose oxidase, which converts glucose to gluconolactone, which in turn yields gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide; catalase, which breaks down the peroxide formed by glucose oxidase to water and oxygen; and acid phosphorylase, which removes inorganic phosphate from organic phosphates.
Honey also contains eighteen free amino acids, of which the most abundant is proline.

Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants

Honey contains trace amounts of the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. It also contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and the minerals calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, chromium and manganese.
The main group of antioxidants in honey are the flavonoids, of which one, pinocembrin, is unique to honey and bee propolis. Ascorbic acid, catalase and selenium are also antioxidants. Generally speaking, the darker the honey, the greater its antioxidising properties.

Other compounds

Honey also contains organic acids such as acetic, butanoic, formic, citric, succinic, lactic, malic, pyroglutamic and gluconic acids, and a number of aromatic acids. The main acid present is gluconic acid, formed in the breakdown of glucose by glucose oxidase. Honey also contains hydroxymethylfurfural, a natural product of the breakdown of simple sugars below pH 5.

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