Is Honey Acidic Or Alkaline?

Is Honey Acidic Or Alkaline?Is Honey Acidic Or Alkaline?

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?

Short Answer:

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.

Explanation:

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.

Honey, like many foods we commonly eat, is acidic.Honey, like many foods we commonly eat, is acidic.


Is the acid level in honey really safe for human stomachs?

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 is you are diabetic.

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
Cauliflower 5.6
Pumpkin 4.99 - 5.90
Nectarines 3.92 - 4.18
Potatoes 5.4 - 5.9

Which acids are present in honey?
Where do the acids in honey come from?

There are many acids found in honey, most of which fall into the category of organic acids or amino acids.  Other acids include:

Organic acids in honey:

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: 

  • honey preservation
  • taste 
  • aroma 
  • color. 

Gluconic acid is the main organic acid in honey, representing the 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. 

Free Amino acids in honey:

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:

  • proline
  • glutamic acid
  • aspartic acid
  • glutamine
  • glutamic acid
  • trypsin
  • threonine
  • serine
  • tyrosine
  • histidine
  • glycine
  • alanine
  • arginine
  • valine
  • methionine
  • asparagine
  • cysteine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • tryptophan
  • phenylalanine
  • ornithine
  • lysine


The main source of amino acids is pollen.

What is the pH of different types of honey?

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
Acacia 3.9 Bogdanov, 1997
Blossom 4.1 Bogdanov, 1997
Chestnut 5.4 Bogdanov, 1997
Dandelion 4.4 Bogdanov, 1997
Lavender 3.4 Bogdanov, 1997
Rape 3.9 Bogdanov, 1997
Rhododendron 3.7 Bogdanov, 1997
Sunflower 3.7 Bogdanov, 1997
Honeydew 4.4 Bogdanov, 1997


Does honey contain citric acid?

Yes, citric acid is one of the organic acids that may be found in honey.

References

A variety of papers and resources have been used to compile this information, including:

  • De-Melo, Adriane & Almeida-Muradian, Ligia & Sancho, Maria & Pascual Maté, Ana. (2017). Composition and properties of Apis mellifera honey: A review. Journal of Apicultural Research. 1-33. 
  • Hermosin I, Chicon RM, Dolores Cabezudo M. Free amino acid composition and botanical origin of honey. Food Chem. 2003;83:263–268. doi: 10.1016/S0308-8146(03)00089-X.;
  • Kečkeš J, Trifković J, Andrić F, Jovetić M, Tešić Z, Milojković-Opsenica D; Amino acids profile of Serbian unifloral honeys.  J Sci Food Agric. 2013 Oct; 93(13):3368-76.
  • Chua L.S., Adnan N.A., 2014. Biochemical and nutritional components of selected honey samples. Acta Sci. Pol., Technol. Aliment. 13(2), 169-179.
  • Şeyda Kıvrak (March 15th 2017). Analysis of Amino Acid and Phenolic Content in Honey by UPLC-ESI-MS/MS, Honey Analysis, Vagner de Alencar Arnaut de Toledo, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/67317. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/honey-analysis/analysis-of-amino-acid-and-phenolic-content-in-honey-by-uplc-esi-ms-ms
  • Bogdanov S;Nature and Origin of the Antibacterial Substances in Honey; Lebensm.-Wiss. u.-Technol., 30, 748–753 (1997)
  • Dressman JB, Berardi RR, Dermentzoglou LC, Russell TL, Schmaltz SP, Barnett JL, et al. Upper gastrointestinal (GI) ph in young, healthy men and women. Pharm. Res. 1990; 7: 756–761.
  • Russell TA., Berardi RR., Barnett JL, Dermentzoglou LC, Jarvenpaa KM., Schmaltz SP, et al. Upper gastrointestinal pH in seventy-nine healthy, elderly, North American men and women. Pharm Res. 1993; 10: 187–196.
  • Sohaimya et al; Physicochemical characteristics of honey from different origins; Annals of Agricultural Sciences Volume 60, Issue 2, December 2015, Pages 279-287.
  • Fernandesa et al; Portuguese honeys as antimicrobial agents against Candida species; Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine; February 2020.
  • pH Values of Common Foods and Ingredients; https://www.clemson.edu/extension/food/
    food2market/documents/ph_of_common_foods.pdf






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