Could honey prevent heart attacks?
*Natural sugar found in popular sweetener reduces artery plaque by 30%
A natural sugar found in honey could prevent heart attacks, new research suggests. The sugar, known as trehalose, activates a protein that causes immune cells to remove fatty plaque from arteries, the study found.
Trehalose was found to reduce the size of plaque in mice by around 30 percent. Plaque builds up inside the arteries in a condition known as atherosclerosis. This causes the arteries to harden and become less elastic, putting people at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and even heart attacks.
Trehalose is also found in mushrooms, lobsters and prawns. Researchers from Washington University injected mice at risk of atherosclerosis with trehalose or a different type of sugar. Some mice were also given trehalose orally.
Results, published in Nature Communications, revealed that mice given trehalose had plaques measuring 0.25mm across, compared with 0.35mm in the animals not injected with the sugar. This is an approximate 30 percent decrease in plaque.
Plaque size was not reduced in mice given trehalose orally or those injected with a different type of sugar. Trehalose is thought to activate a protein called TFEB that causes immune cells, known as macrophages, to remove plaque.
Lead author Dr. Babak Razani said: “In atherosclerosis, macrophages try to fix damage to the artery by cleaning up the area, but they get overwhelmed by the inflammatory nature of the plaques. Their housekeeping process gets gummed up.
“Trehalose is not just enhancing the housekeeping machinery that’s already there. It’s triggering the cell to make new machinery.” The World Health Organization (WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend honey as a natural cough remedy.
A 2007 study by Penn State College of Medicine suggested that honey reduced nighttime coughing and improved sleep quality in children with upper respiratory infection better than the cough medicine dextromethorphan or no treatment.