High hydroxycinnamic acids contents in fennel honey produced in Southern Italy

A total of 122 honey samples (Apis mellifera ssp. Ligustica) collected from Southern Italy were examined for floral identification by melissopalynological examination and for polyphenols detection by an LC–ESI-OrbitrapTM -MS/MS method. The melissopalynological examination confirmed all the samples examined as fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) unifloral variety. The analytical method carried out for polyphenols detection showed satisfactory linearity and recovery values, achieved during the validation of the method. Very high amounts of flavonols (kaempferol and quercetin) and hydroxycinnamic acids (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and ferulic acid), were found in all the samples examined. Among the hydroxycinnamic acids group, caffeic acid showed the highest mean contents (865.90 ± 67.07 µg/kg). The results of this work confirmed the high presence of phenolic acids with strong free radical–scavenging activity in fennel products such as honey, suggesting their use to reduce oxidative stress.