In this study, 17 commercial honey samples from Morocco were analyzed. Four samples did not meet the international physicochemical standards due to high hydroxymethylfurfural content and low diastase activity. Phenol content varied from 163.82 mg gallic acid equivalent (GAE)/kg in citrus honey to 923.70 mg (GAE)/kg in thyme honey from Rachidia; flavonoid content ranged from 4.26 mg quercetin equivalent (QE)/kg in citrus honey to 139.62 mg QE/kg in black cumin honey. Black cumin honey had the highest peroxyl scavenging activity; oregano (from Zaraphyt) and thyme honeys (from Rachidia) had the highest ABTS (2,2'-azino-bis[3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid]) scavenging activity; and thyme honey (Saouira) had the highest NO scavenging capacity. The antioxidant activity of Moroccan honeys was correlated with the phenol, flavonoid, and melanoidin contents. Dark honeys had higher antioxidant activity than light honeys. Samples with high sodium levels had lower free radical scavenging activity. On the other hand, calcium and magnesium increased the ABTS and peroxyl scavenging capacity, respectively, of honey samples. According to cluster and discriminant analyses, the honey samples were grouped in three clusters with respect to the phenol, flavonoid, melanoidin, proline, mineral and sugar contents, and free radical scavenging capacity.
Keywords: Antioxidant activity; Morocco; honey; physicochemical characteristics.