You may have heard about the beneficial enzymes that can be found in raw honey. It’s true – honey does contain many enzymes and they can benefit your health. But what enzymes are in honey, and what even is an enzyme? Read on to find out.
What is an Enzyme?
An enzyme is a complex protein, formed in a living cell, which helps bring about a chemical process or reaction. Almost all metabolic processes in the cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates fast enough to sustain life. Enzymes serve as a catalyst for over 5,000 (known) biochemical reactions. As you can see, they are pretty important for keeping us alive!
The Enzymes in Honey
Honey naturally contains several enzymes, in small amounts. These enzymes are, mostly, diastase, invertase, and glucose oxidase. There are others present in even smaller amounts, as well. There is quite a bit of variation in honey enzyme content depending on when and where the honey was produced.
Diastase is found in nectar. It is also added by the honeybee itself. Diastase digests starches into smaller compounds, but no starch is found in honey, so it’s function within honey is relatively unclear. The flower used to make the honey greatly influences the amount of diastase in the honey. Buckwheat, for instance, contains 8x the diastase as orange blossom. Diastase helps with digestion.
Invertase hydrolyzes sucrose to fructose and glucose. The bees add this enzyme to the nectar. It’s very important during the process of changing nectar into delicious honey.
This enzyme comes from the bees. It oxidizes glucose in the un-ripened honey, playing a role in the honey production process. It yields gluconolactone which equilibrates with gluconic acid, the principal acid of honey. It also yields hydrogen peroxide which contributes to the antibacterial properties of honey.
In upcoming posts, we’ll look at how each of the major enzymes in raw honey can help your body!