Next time you run out of honey, head to the farmers' market and buy a jar of raw buckwheat honey. An increasing body of scientific research suggests that this dark-colored, strongly-flavored superfood can offer a number of interesting health benefits, including cough suppression and antioxidant protection. Here's the full scoop on the potential health benefits of buckwheat honey:
Buckwheat honey: a natural remedy for cough?
Although buckwheat honey is not included in HealWithFood.org's list of the best foods against the common cold and flu, it definitely has a place in the arsenal of immune-fighting home remedies. A study published in the December 2007 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that children who ingested a small amount of buckwheat honey before bedtime experienced less nocturnal cough and slept better than children who received either honey-flavored dextromethorphan (a common over-the-counter cough-suppressing drug) or no treatment at all.
Exceptionally strong antioxidant properties
Dark-colored honeys in general and buckwheat honey in particular have been shown to possess exceptionally strong antioxidant properties. A 2001 study that investigated the antioxidant content of different varieties of honey and their effectiveness in reducing lipid oxidation in ground poultry found that buckwheat honey had the highest antioxidant content and acacia honey the lowest. Other studies have confirmed the exceptionally strong antioxidant properties of buckwheat honey.
So what gives dark-colored honey varieties their antioxidant properties? A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that the phenolic compounds contribute significantly to the antioxidant capacity of honey but are not solely responsible for it. The antioxidant power of honey appears to be a result of the combined activity of a broad spectrum of compounds including phenolics, enzymes, peptides, organic acids, and Maillard reaction products.
Raw buckwheat honey has the strongest antioxidant power
A study published in the March 2004 issue of the Journal of Food Science investigated the impact of processing and storage on the antioxidant capacity of clover honey and buckwheat honey. Processing appeared to have little effect on the antioxidant capacity of clover honey. By contrast, processed buckwheat honey was found to have 33% less antioxidant capacity compared with raw buckwheat honey. Furthermore, all tested honeys lost some of their antioxidant powers during storage.