Honey brings energy, satisfies the desire for sweets and is emollient, especially useful when we have hoarseness or sore throat. And from today we know that a particular type of honey, citrus honey, is antioxidant, anticancer, cardioprotective, useful for eye health and even capable of protecting the gut microbiota and the liver. This emerges from a very recent scientific research that appeared in Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a Chinese team (Yi et al, Nutrients, 2023).
Citrus honey, what it is and its benefits
Citrus honey is obtained from the nectar collected from the flowers of plants of the Citrus genus, therefore orange, lemon, mandarin, bergamot and cedar. Citrus honey contains rutin and, compared to other honeys, is characterized by the presence of hesperetin and hesperidin. These substances are phenolic compounds and give citrus honey important antioxidant properties proven by scientific studies previously carried out (Pichichero et al, J Sci Food Agric, 2009). Not only that, citrus honey is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, healing and anticancer. However, to date, studies on the effects of citrus honey on the gut microbiota and liver had not yet been performed. It is legitimate to assume that there is a beneficial action deriving from the intake of citrus honey since this honey provides antioxidants. In fact, antioxidants, together with prebiotics and probiotics, have been shown to support the intestinal microbiota. Then, the liver receives blood via the portal vein directly from the intestine and this blood carries the by-products of the microbiota with it. Hence, it can be deduced that changes to the gut microbiota are reflected in changes in the liver. To bring clarity to this very interesting aspect, Chinese scientists have developed the study we are talking about today.
Citrus honey and its action on the liver and microbiota, the study
The study was carried out in the laboratory on a population of mice with fatty liver. Some of the mice were given citrus honey. What emerged is that the intake of citrus honey made it possible to counteract the condition of fatty liver and to alleviate it. Citrus honey also acted on the intestinal microbiota, inhibiting some bad bacteria and instead favoring the proliferation of good intestinal bacteria with a consequent increase in short-chain fatty acids, produced by these bacteria, such as butyrate, which is an anti-inflammatory substance, and valeric acid, which, as studies have shown, can even help protect the eyesight, reaching the eyes from the colon where it is produced and helping to lower intraocular pressure (Skrzypecki et al, Nutrients, 2020).
Citrus honey also finds its place within a varied and balanced diet. This emerges from the research we discussed today and which clearly demonstrates that this type of honey brings important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective properties, even capable of protecting eyesight. Without excesses, therefore, green light also for citrus honey, perhaps spread on a slice of black bread or added as a sweetener to herbal teas. In the latter case, however, do not add the honey to the boiling herbal tea immediately, in order not to alter its properties, but wait for the tea to cool down a bit.