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Defines and illustrates cyclic and straight chain structures of important monosaccharides.

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How Sweet it Is

How Sweet it Is

Credit: Kamillo Kluth
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27330306@N08/4629255847
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Diabetes mellitus is a disease of impaired glucose utilization. One of the laboratory tests for this disorder is to measure glucose in urine (glucose is normally not detected.). In the Middle Ages, there were no chemical tests for glucose, so a urine sample would be set out by an open window. If bees were attracted to the specimen, that suggested the presence of high amounts of glucose.

News You Can Use

  • Honey is a prime source of carbohydrates, mainly composed of glucose and fructose. The bee obtains nectar (a thin sweet liquid) and converts it to a stable food. Variations in the source of nectar account for the differences in color and taste of the final product. The high viscosity and density of honey are due to the large amounts of carbohydrates present.
  • Honey has antibacterial properties. Laboratory studies show that honey is an effective inhibitor of growth of several food-borne pathogens such as salmonella. It apparently also slows down the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Both of these bacteria are commonly found in doctor’s offices and in hospitals. Topically applied honey has been shown to have some benefit in the treatment of wound infections.
  • Topically applied honey apparently is very beneficial in the treatment of skin ulcers commonly seen in diabetics. Other uses for honey include treatment of gastroenteritis in infants and children. The honey seems to decrease the amount of bacterial diarrhea in this condition and can be used in place of oral glucose in providing rehydration therapy in this disorder.
  • For the last ten years or so, beekeepers have noticed an alarming increase in the rate of hive loss, often 30-50% in many areas. Since bees are heavily involved in pollination, as many as one hundred different agricultural products could soon be in short supply. It is thought that widespread use of certain pesticides is a major contributor to this decrease in the bee population.

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Use the links below to learn more about honey. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the cause of the different colors seen in honey?
  2. Why should honey not be given to infants?
  3. What are the amounts of the two major monosaccharides in honey?
  4. What contributes to the antibacterial properties of honey?
  5. Is honey beneficial to diabetics?

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  1. [1]^ Credit: Kamillo Kluth; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27330306@N08/4629255847; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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