The Never Ending Benefits of Honey
is a healthy alternative to chemical additives and refined sweeteners
in commercial salad dressings, said a new University of Illinois
"To capitalize on the positive health effects of honey, we
experimented with using honey in salad dressings," said Nicki
Engeseth, a U of I associate professor of food chemistry. "We
found that the antioxidants in honey protected the quality of
the salad dressings for up to nine months while sweetening them
Engeseth's study substituted honey for EDTA, an additive used
to keep the oils in salad dressings from oxidizing, and high-fructose
corn syrup, used by many commercial salad-dressing producers
to sweeten their salad dressing recipes.
"We chose clover and blueberry honeys for the study after an
analysis of the sweetening potential, antioxidant activity,
and phenolic profiles of 19 honeys with varying characteristics,"
said the scientist.
The dressings were also compared to a control dressing that
contained ingredients found in current commercial salad dressings,
Engeseth explained a problem the scientists encountered in
using honey in a salad dressing system. "Salad dressings are
emulsions-they contain oil and water; and to keep these ingredients
together in one phase, manufacturers rely on emulsifiers and
thickening agents to avoid thinning of the dressing and separation
of the oil and water phase," she said.
When the researchers found that enzymes in the honey broke
the emulsion by attacking the starch that was used to thicken
the dressing, they came up with a new formulation that used
xanthan gum as a thickening agent, which they then used in all
the dressings, she said.
The researchers then stored the dressings under various conditions,
including 37 degrees Celsius (accelerated storage) for six weeks
and 23 degrees Celsius and 4 degrees Celsius for one year, followed
by an evaluation of their oxidative stability.
"After nine months of storage, both types of honey were as
effective as EDTA in protecting against oxidation or spoilage.
Blueberry honey performed slightly better than clover," she
Engeseth said that many consumers prefer products with natural
ingredients and that salad dressings made with honey should
appeal to these consumers.
"There's such a wide range of salad dressings on the market--some
unique salad dressings as well as inexpensive products that
perform beautifully. If manufacturers are interested in developing
salad dressings that have a healthy twist, we've demonstrated
that using honey as both an antioxidant and a sweetener is one
way to do this," she said.