Many people seeking to improve their health with nutrition and diet, have become concerned about the ratio of acidic or alkaline foods they consume.
So is honey acidic or alkaline?
Yes, honey is acidic - that is, honey has an acidic pH that is at a level considered low enough to prevent growth of micro-organisms. For this reason, honey has sometimes been used as a natural anti-bacterial agent.
However, within the context of the human diet, honey has a low PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load).
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, where anything with a pH of less than 7 is considered acidic. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH greater than 7 is considered akaline. Pure water has a neutral pH, however, the pH of water will change if any other substance or solution is added to it.
Scientists have recorded a pH level of between 3.3 to 6.5 for different types of honey, so honey is therefore acidic.
Yes, certainly - as long as there are no other reasons why removing honey from your diet would be a good idea - for example, it's a good idea to refrain from eating honey if you are diabetic.
Although honey is acidic, it has a low Potential Renal Acid Load - more about this see below.
Elsewhere on my website, I compare the nutritional content of honey with other foods, so let's compare the pH of other foods we commonly consume:
|Food Item||pH Value|
|Bananas||4.5 - 5.2|
|Egg plant||4.5 - 5.3|
|Pumpkin||4.99 - 5.90|
|Nectarines||3.92 - 4.18|
|Potatoes||5.4 - 5.9|
Those following an alkaline diet are sometimes interested in whether honey promotes acidity when consumed.
I don't follow any particular diet and cannot make a comment about the merits or otherwise of the alkaline diet, but I decided to check against research.
Here's a nice quote from a 2019 published paper:
"In general, foods rich in protein, such as meat, cheese, eggs, and others, increase the production of acid in the body, whereas fruit and vegetables increase alkalis.
The capacity of acid or base production of any food is called potential renal acid load (PRAL)."
- Osuna-Padilla et (2019)
The higher the PRAL score of foods, the more acid produced in the body.
Honey (which is low in protein) has a low PRAL score.
In fact, the PRAL score of honey is -0.3.
Below is a comparison of the PRAL scores of foods of 5 foods for your interest:
Source: Schwalfenberg GK (2012)
There are many acids found in honey, most of which fall into the category of organic acids or amino acids.
Organic acids contribute to the overall level of acidity in honey. Although they make up only a tiny amount of the solid component of honey (0.5%) organic acids in honey are very important for:
Gluconic acid is the main organic acid in honey, representing 70–90% of the total (Bogdanov).
Organic acids are likely to come directly from nectar or honeydew (citric, malic and oxalic), but the vast majority of them are produced from nectar and honeydew sugars by the action of enzymes secreted by bees during ripening and storage.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins (think of the way in which bricks are the building blocks of a wall). These proteins are important for all kinds of things, such as the structure of cells, which in turn are important for maintaining physical health - hence one of the reasons honey is also very important for bees!
Over 20 amino acids have been detected in honey, including:
The main source of amino acids is pollen.
Here are some specific examples of pH for different types of honey compiled from research papers:
|Honey Type||pH||Research Source|
|Chestnut||4.53||Fernandes et al, 2020|
|Eucalyptus||3.82 - 4.4||Fernandes et al, 2020; Bogdanov, 1997|
|Orange blossom||3.62 - 3.8||Fernandes et al, 2020; Bogdanov, 1997|
|Rosemary||3.50||Fernandes et al, 2020|
|Heather||4.32||Fernandes et al, 2020|
|Manuka||4.32||Fernandes et al, 2020|
Yes, citric acid is one of the organic acids that may be found in honey.
More topics of interest:
A variety of papers and resources have been used to compile this information, including:
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