Biochemist Heidrun Gross and colleagues from the University of California, Davis fed 25 study participants about four tablespoons each of buckwheat honey daily for 29 days in addition to their regular diets. The volunteers were divided into two groups receiving honey that provided different amounts of polyphenols - compounds found in fruits, vegetables and seeds that have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The researchers drew blood samples from the participants at given intervals following honey consumption. They found that there was a direct link between the honey consumption and the level of polyphenolic antioxidants in the plasma.
Polyphenols have been shown to have antioxidant properties, supporting use of honey as a functional food.
Previous research had shown that a single dose of honey can boost antioxidants, but the new research is thought to be the first study of daily honey consumption.
Results were presented last weekend at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California.