Health effects of HMF

HMF(Hydroxymethylfurfural) is an organic compound formed by sugar degradation through the Maillard reaction (a non-enzymatic browning reaction) during food processing[1]. As well as processing, storage conditions also affect its formation. 

HMF concentration is generally accepted as a quality indicator for honey freshness because it is typically absent or present in only tiny amounts in fresh honey.[2].. While honey is stored in a long time, the amount of HMF tends to increase over time. Other than honey, HMF is found in most sugar-containing foods we consume daily, such as bread, breakfast cereals, honey, and fruit juices.

HMF was stated to have both negative and positive effects on human health in most preliminary studies. 

Negative effects on human health

- According to Lee and his colleagues’ publication (1995), HMF to be an indirect mutagen. 

- HMF has genotoxic effects like base and sugar modification on DNA, single and double chain fractures, DNA protein cross-linking.

- HMF has cytotoxic effects. Since HMF may irritate upper respiratory, eye, skin and mucosa (Morales,2008).

 Positive effects on human health

HMF can be an antioxidant. ROS is produced as toxic by-products of aerobic metabolism in the body. HMF has important protective effects against ROS-induced damage on erythrocytes.

- HMF can be an anti-allergen. HMF interferes with the cross-linking of antigen-antibodies and binding of anticorps-receptors. Also, HMF blocks histamine release and Ca2+ signaling via the free-radical scavenging activity of the compound (Suzuki et al., 2005).