Honey is a sweet product that occurs as a result of the collection of the nectars found in the flowers of plants or the secondary substances secreted by some mite insects by honey bees. Its composition is changed in the bodies of honey bees to become the final product. Honey is stored in honeycomb chambers and matures there. So, do you wonder what is honey made of?
Honey is made of 16-18% water, 35-40% fructose, 30-35% glucose, 7-10% maltose, 1-2% sucrose and 0.2% ash. In addition, honey contains K, S, Cl, Ca, P, Mg, SiO, Cu, I, Fe, and Zn minerals, as well as B, C, E, and K vitamins. Honey also has enzymes, amino acids, hormones, bactericidal and bacteriostatic substances in its content. With this content, honey has a germicidal and antibacterial effect.
The Content of Honey: What Is It Made Of?
If honey is not intervened from outside, honey is completely natural food. There are plenty of vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes that are very important for human life in honey. They are organic compounds that are an indispensable part of a healthy life. Vitamins are divided into two as fat-soluble and water-soluble. Some of the vitamins found in honey are:
- B1 (Thiamine)
- B2 (Riboflavin)
- B3 (Niacin)
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- B6 (Pyridoxine)
- B7 (Biotin-Vitamin H)
- B9 (Folic acid)
- Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Minerals are inorganic substances that are necessary for the body to remain healthy and that our body cannot form. Minerals work together with vitamins to ensure the effective use of other nutrients. Thus, they take part in many vital functions such as healthy bone and tooth structure, regular functioning of the heart, cell protection and development, muscle functions, reproductive health, circulation, and nervous system, and maintaining the water balance in the body. Since minerals are not produced by the body, they must be taken through food. Some of the minerals found in honey are:
- Potassium (K)
- Chlorine (Cl)
- Sulfur (S)
- Calcium (Ca)
- Sodium (Na)
- Phosphorus (P)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Silicon (Si)
- Iron (Fe)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Copper (Cu)
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They build and repair cells and are responsible for the creation of enzymes. They play a fundamental role in our mental health. The breakdown of proteins and their conversion to amino acids are the primary functions of amino acids in the body. After this transformation, amino acids, wherever they can find, combine with nitrogen and take thousands of protein formats that our body can use. Some of the acids found in honey are:
- Acetic acid
- Butyric acid
- Citric acid
- Formic acid
- Malic acid
- Lactic acid
- Succinic acid
- Gluconic acid
- Oxalic acid
- Capric acid
- Tannic acid
- Tartaric acid
- Laric acid
The most common acid component in honey is gluconic acid. While the acidity of honey increases its stability against microorganisms, bees help the honey mature by adding formic acid. It has been reported that the amount of acid responsible for the low pH value of honey comes from the formic acid that bees inject into these eyes from their needles before the honey eyes are capped. Honey generally show acidic reactivity and their PH is between 3.5-5.5. The detection of high acid value in honey shows that it fermentation over time, and consequently alcohol turns into acidic acid with bacterial effects.
Enzymes organize the whole biochemical process in the body, streamline, accelerate, and cure diseases. Honey is rich in enzymes. Some of these enzymes are secreted from plants and some from the glands on the bee’s head. Some enzymes found in honey are:
- Amylase (Diastase)
- Invertase (Sucrose)
The antibacterial effect of honey depends on hydrogen peroxide and lysozyme enzymes. In addition, there is the chocin substance in honey, which the body can produce very little. Chocin adjusts the fat metabolism of the liver and prevents this organ from becoming fat.
Substances of Which the Composition of Honey Is Made Up
Honey has a very complex structure due to the variety of ingredients it contains. It can show quite different structures according to various regions and the time of their acquisition. For this reason, the analysis of the composition of honey contains quite a large number of samples. The composition of honey varies according to the plant species in the region of production and the time of production. But in general; 80% of honey consists of various sugars and 17% is water. The remaining 3% consists of enzymes and substances that make honey and make honey valuable.
When the bee sucks the honey essence called nectar from the flowers; It collects a liquid consisting of sucrose, glucose, fructose, large amounts of water, enzymes, vitamins, some nitrogenous substances, and acids in its crop. However, it is not exactly known which enzymes, vitamins, acids, and some nitrogenous substances came from nectar and which were added by the bee. Although little is known about the sources of other substances in the composition of honey, such as acids and vitamins; Some of the amino acids and vitamins of honey are thought to come from pollen.
As soon as the bee sets off towards the hive, the honey sac, that is the honey extract collected in the crop, begins to turn into honey. Sucrose, the most important enzyme found in the bee’s crop, converts the sucrose in the honey extract to fructose and glucose. By breaking down sucrose; Some other sugars also occur, such as maltose, and isomaltose. This leads to an increase in the sugar content in honey. The bee coming to the hive pours the honey essence in its crop either into a honeycomb chamber or into a friend’s mouth. His companion carries it to the upper eyes of the honeycomb, which is kept at a temperature to allow evaporation. In the honeycomb chamber, the honey will darken and mature over time. Ripe honey is fragrant, delicious, and can be stored for a long time without spoiling. Immature honey turns sour quickly.
- The Amount Of Moisture In Honey
If the sugars that provide the typical sweetness and usefulness of honey are in a high enough concentration, fermentation will not begin. When the water ratio is 18.5% and higher; There may be fermentation. Acetic acid and carbon dioxide formed as a result of fermentation; It spoils the taste and color of honey. The maximum water rate in honey has been determined as 21%. In general, mountain honey contains less moisture than plain honey. Excessive moisture indicates that the honey is not ripe or that water has been added from the outside. This creates the danger of surface fermentation of honey.
- Carbohydrates in Honey
Honey is a carbohydrate substance; sugars constitute 95-99.9% of the solid matter. Of the 15 types of sugar in honey, 9 have been found to be certain; but 6 of them were found in some studies. Honey contains the most fructose and glucose. These two monosaccharides (simple sugar), which give the honey taste, are the result of sucrose in plant saps; It is known to occur as a result of the exchange with invertase enzyme or the separation of sucrose into fructose and glucose. Honey’s sweetness, moisture absorption, energy value, and other physical properties come from these two sugars. While the amount of sucrose in honey varies according to the maturation degree of the honey and the composition of the nectar; the Immature honey that is harvested very early contains high amounts of sucrose.
- Enzymes in Honey
Honey is rich in enzymes. The main known honey enzymes are amylase (diastase), invertase (sucrose), catalase, phosphatase as well as ascorbic acid, and glucose oxidizer. Some of the enzymes are composed of nectar and the secretion left by the aphids on the leaf, and a large part of the salivary gland secretions of bees. The invertase (sucrose) enzyme is responsible for most of the chemical changes in the transformation of nectar into honey. It provides the conversion of sucrose in nectar to fructose and glucose.
Glucozoxidase, one of the important honey enzymes, acts on glucose and forms hydrogen peroxide and gluconolactone. The antibacterial effect of honey is also due to the hydrogen peroxide formed. In honey, also lysozyme enzyme has an antibacterial effect. In addition to these, there is the Chocin substance that the body can produce only in small amounts. Therefore, this substance should be given two to three grams per day. Chocin adjusts the liver’s fat metabolism and prevents this organ from binding fat.
- Acids in Honey
The most abundant acid component in honey is gluconic acid, which is formed as a result of the action of the glucosidase enzyme. The source of other acids is not well known. While the acidity of honey increases its stability against microorganisms; bees help honey mature by adding formic acid to honey. It has been reported that the amount of acid responsible for the low pH value of honey comes from the formic acid that bees inject into these eyes from their needles before the honey cells are glazed. Honey generally shows an acidic reaction and its pH is between 3.5-5.5.
Detection of high acid value in honey indicates that it is fermented over time; As a result, it shows that alcohol is converted to acetic acid by bacterial effects. There are acetic, butyric, citric, formic, lactic, malic, succinic, gluconic, oxalic, capric, tannic, tartaric, and valeric acids in honey. The source of other acids found in honey other than gluconic acid is not known exactly.
- Proteins in Honey
Nitrogenous substances are approximately 0.3% in flower honey and 1% in honeydew honey. The high levels of nitrogenous substances in flower honey indicate that they are mixed with honeydew honey. The determination of proteins in honey is important in terms of whether it is natural or artificial and in terms of nutrition. Although honey is not a protein-rich nutrient, it has a rich source of amino acids.
Proteins are made up of molecules that we call amino acids, which consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms arranged side by side like beads on a rosary. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Approximately 17 amino acids have been found in honey. While tyrosine and tryptophan are found in dark-colored honey, they have not been detected in light-colored honey. Proline, lysine, and glutamic acid were reported to be the most in honey, respectively. These are followed by histidine, arginine, threonine, serine, glycine, valine, methionine, leucine, alanine, phenylalanine.
- Vitamins in Honey
In the past, it was thought that there was no vitamin or very little in honey, but as a result of chemical and biological research in recent years; Various vitamins have been found in honey. While there is no vitamin A in honey, there are B group vitamins (B1, B4) and C, E, and K vitamins. Including in various amounts in honey; thiamine, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, pyridoxine (B6) pantothenic acid (B5) nicotinic acid (B3) niacin, biotin, and folic acid were determined. Watt and Merril in their research; reported that vitamin B1 in honey was trace amount, vitamin B2 was 0.4 mg and vitamin C was 10 mg. During the straining process; it can lose most of these vitamins. Therefore, the filtering process must be done very carefully.
- Mineral Substances in Honey
The amount of mineral matter in honey varies between 0.02% – 1.0%. The honey contains the most potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and lesser amounts of sodium, chlorine, sulfur, magnesium, silica, manganese, copper, iodine, iron, and zinc. Minerals found in honey, a rich mineral source, are potassium (K), sodium (Na), calcium oxide (CaO), magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), chlorine (Cl), phosphorus. (P) are sulfur (S), silica (SiO2), and crude silica. Mineral substances in trace form are chromium (Cr), lithium (Li), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) tin (Sn), zinc (Zn), osmium (Os), beryllium (Be), vanadium (V), zirconium (Zr), silver (Ag), barium (Ba), gallium (Ga), bismuth (Bi), gold (Au), germanium (Ge) and strontium (Sr).
Detailed Information About What Honey Is Made Of
Having a very important place in human history for thousands of years, honey has a complex and multi-component structure. Its content varies depending on many factors such as vegetation, soil, weather conditions, bee type, gathering conditions of nectar, and beekeeping methods. For this reason, it may not be possible to list the ingredients contained in any honey exactly. However, there are certain properties that make honey in honey.
Water is the most abundant substance in honey after carbohydrates. The percentage of water indicates how mature the honey is; it also reflects the climate and the nature of the nectar where it is produced. For example, mountain honey contains less moisture than honey obtained from lower places. The water rate in honey also determines how that honey should be stored. Since honey is a moisture-retaining nutrient, the high water content of honey will deteriorate rapidly if kept in extremely humid environments.
The water content in honey should ideally be at least 17 percent and at most 25 percent. At a humidity below 17 percent, honey will not ferment and mature, no matter how many enzymes it contains. At a rate of more than 25 percent, surface fermentation will begin and the resulting acetic acid and carbon dioxide will spoil the taste of honey.
Carbohydrates make up the majority of the solid matter in honey. Depending on the type, approximately 95-99.9 percent of honey consists of carbohydrates. So much so that one kilogram of honey can contain 3150 to 3350 calories. Until the middle of the last century, honey was thought to consist only of glucose, fructose, sucrose, and dextrin. As techniques for separating and analyzing sugars improved, many other types of sugar were found in research on honey. The types and proportions of sugar in honey can be summarized as follows:
The most common sugars in honey are monosaccharides called fructose and glucose. Monosaccharides (single sugars), the smallest building units of carbohydrates, are the building blocks of more complex sugars. They cannot be broken into smaller pieces with water. Fructose and glucose are the highest levels of both honey and carbohydrate components. The ratio of these two sugars in honey can be up to 90 percent in some species. The crystallization process is determined by the ratio of these two monosaccharides to each other. Most honey has a higher rate of fructose than glucose; Fructose generally constitutes 33-44% of honey and glucose 25-40%.
The higher the fructose and glucose ratio in honey, the better quality that honey is. Therefore, the ratio of these two sugars in impure honey is low. Honey with higher fructose content is sweeter. There are also many disaccharides in honey. Some of these sugars also determine the taste and quality of honey. The most common disaccharides in honey are maltose, turanose, isomaltose, sucrose, maltulose, isomaltulose, and nigerose. While the amount of sucrose in flower honey is 1-6 percent, it can be up to 10 percent in honeydew honey.
The high amount of sucrose in honey is an indication of a problem in the enzyme process, bees feeding too much sugar during the spring, or early harvesting of honey. It is also a sign of poor quality and the impurity of that honey. On the other hand, the proportion of sucrose in honey that is stored under normal conditions decreases over time. This is because it interacts with the invertase enzyme, which remains active even after the honey is harvested, and is transformed into monosaccharide over time by the intervase enzyme.
However, the rate of sucrose in honey can never be 0. Maltose disaccharide affects the rate at which honey crystallizes. If it rises to 6-9 percent, as in the acacia honey example, the honey will crystallize slowly. If it remains at 2-3 percent, as in the sunflower or rape samples, crystallization will occur much faster. Although there are multiple sugars in honey, there are no complex sugars such as fiber.
The Nutritional Content of Honey
Honey is not a good source of minerals. Although it contains many minerals, the proportion of these substances is only in the range of 0.02 – 1.0 percent. In other words, honey will not provide any benefit in eliminating a mineral deficiency in the body. However, the most common mineral substances in honey are Phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, chlorine, copper, sulfur, potassium, sodium.
The most important characteristic of honey that distinguishes it from other sweeteners is the enzymes it contains. These enzymes play an important role in determining the taste, texture, and quality of honey. Some are made up of nectar, others from the aphids’ leaf secretions. Most of it comes from bees’ salivary gland secretions. The major enzymes in honey are: Invertase is responsible for breaking down sucrose into fructose and glucose. It plays an important role in determining the taste of honey. It is obtained both from the plant and from the secretions of bees.
The role of the amylase enzyme, which enables the conversion of starch and polysaccharides into maltose, in honey has not been determined yet. Because it does not contain complex carbohydrates such as honey and starch. However, the amount of amylase in honey plays an important role in determining the quality of honey in some European countries. Amylase amount in high-quality honey was determined to be at least 8 units. How active the amylase enzyme is in honey reveals whether that honey is heated or kept under what conditions.
Heating or long storage time leads to degradation of the amylase enzyme. This is why a lower limit is set for the amount of amylase in honey. However, some types of honey, such as acacia or lavender honey, are naturally low in amylase; this is not an indication of poor quality. This enzyme, like invertase, is of both plant and bee origin. This enzyme is derived from nectar and the secretions of bees. It decomposes organic components in phosphoric acid.
Glucose oxidase is associated with honey’s antibacterial properties. It provides the formation of gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide by acting on glucose. Hydrogen peroxide is the substance that gives honey its antibacterial properties. The effect of this enzyme is reduced by heat and light. It has been found that some honey loses their glucose oxidase activity although they come into contact with very little light, and in some honey even contact with a strong light does not cause such a situation.
The acids found in honey can be listed as follows: Acetic, butyric, citric, formic, lactic, malic, succinic, gluconic, oxalic, capric, tannic, tartaric, and valeric acids. Although these acids are mostly in salt (sodium) form, they are of plant or bee origin. Some occur in the process of breaking down sugars by enzymes. The pH value of honey, which generally exhibits an acidic reaction, is between 3.5-5.5.
Although it is not a protein-rich nutrient, it has been determined that honey can contain 17 amino acids. These amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, are Histidine, arginine, threonine, serine, glycine, valine, methionine, leucine, alanine, phenylalanine. Although some of these are of plant origin, most of them are of animal origin.
It has been determined in recent research that honey contains some vitamins. The type and amount of vitamin in honey depends on the plants involved in the production process of that honey. B group vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6) and E and K vitamins were determined in honey. Rates are not very high.
The Benefits of Honey Due to Its Content
Honey has numerous benefits due to its nutritional content, both as food and as a medicinal aid. In the paragraphs below, we have brought together the highlights of honey’s benefits.
- Wound Healing
The use of honey in small wounds and cuts is one of the oldest treatment practices. Being a powerful antiseptic, honey also has antimicrobial properties, thus protecting the wound against germs and speeding up the healing process. It also reduces the risk of developing an infection thanks to its antioxidant and hydrogen peroxide content.
- Burn Treatment
First degree (mild) burns are a common problem in kitchens. Sometimes, burns may occur on our skin due to steam, sometimes stove fire, and sometimes hot metal materials. For this, the first thing we need to do is to keep the area in cold water for a while and then apply some honey to the burn. In addition to keeping the area cool, it takes the pain and starts the rapid healing process. According to a study published in the Scientific World Journal (Skin and Aesthetic Surgery), a medical journal in 2011; The honey applied to the burn sterilizes the wound in a short time, accelerates the healing process, and reduces the scarring rate.
- Throat infection
One of the most effective ways to relieve sore throat, cough, or throat irritation is to use honey. Even the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend honey as a natural cough remedy. Also, honey helps to thin thickened mucus and expel phlegm. In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2010, 1 teaspoon of honey eaten at bedtime every evening has been shown to have a more relieving effect on cough due to upper respiratory tract infections compared to cough syrups.
- Sleep Problems
Another benefit of honey is that it enables us to sleep healthier. Honey provides a sufficient amount of glycogen to the liver during sleep and thus enables us to easily provide the nutrients required for the brain. This means a smoother sleep. Also, honey helps melatonin release quickly by stimulating insulin production. In this way, you can quickly switch to rem sleep. For this, you should drink 1 teaspoon of honey in 1 glass of warm milk before going to bed.
- Seasonal Allergies
Allergies are a common problem for many people during the season. Here, too, the healing power of honey comes into play. Allergies reduce the quality of life of people with many symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, upper respiratory tract infection. Regular honey consumption during these periods is a method that will help to overcome these problems. In addition, if you prefer honey produced in your region, it will act as a kind of vaccine against pollen.
- Peptic Ulcer
Another benefit of honey is; It helps in the treatment of peptic ulcers caused by Helicobacter Pylori bacteria. If honey with strong antibacterial properties is used, it helps the bacteria that cause peptic ulcers in the stomach or duodenum to be removed from the body. Also, honey helps in the treatment of various stomach ailments and stabilization of stomach acid. People with stomach problems are recommended to eat 1 tablespoon of strained honey daily.
Psoriasis is a skin problem that causes redness, blisters, itching, and irritation. While honey ensures the elimination of the problems associated with this disease, it also enables the bacteria that are thought to cause the disease to be removed from the body. Although the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, psoriasis complaints following the weakening of the body’s immune system or psychological disorders are common observations.
Here, honey acts as an effective medicine that we can use both by consuming and applying it to the area with psoriasis. When honey is applied to the skin, it keeps the area moist, fights germs thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, and also helps to reveal healthy skin by accelerating the regeneration period of cells. For this, apply honey to the problem area. After half an hour, rinse with water. Repeat this application 3-4 times a day.
- Hair Health
It is a part of our body that needs nourishment like our other cells in our hair. In addition to the nourishing properties of honey, its antioxidant properties also help our hair get rid of harmful substances. It also eliminates the problems that occur in the scalp and regulates the pH balance of the skin at the scalp. According to a 2001 study published in the European Journal of Scientific Research; It has been reported that the use of honey in the hair stops hair loss due to seborrheic dermatitis and prevents recurrence.
For this, after washing your hair with shampoo, apply some honey to your hair and scalp and spread them all over. After 3-5 minutes, rinse your hair with water. If you want, you can mix 1 tablespoon of honey in 1 glass of water and apply this mixture to your hair after a shower. In the same way, keep it for 3-5 minutes and rinse with water. Also for hair loss; You can mix 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon of onion juice and apply it to the scalp. After waiting 30 minutes, you can wash your hair with your usual shampoo.
- Memory Boost
Nowadays, minds are tired for many reasons such as loading the minds with a lot of unnecessary information, memory problems due to stress, problems related to aging or menopause. The energy source required for the functioning of brain cells is sugar. This is naturally found in honey. It also increases children’s learning skills. For this, it is recommended to consume 1 tablespoon of honey half an hour before breakfast or at bedtime in the morning.