FOODIE circles are buzzing about Scottish heather honey after new research into the product found it offers 10 times more manganese than about 200 of its rival superfoods from around the world.

Tests carried out in a York lab last month found it had high levels of the trace mineral which helps to repair bone and other functions. The body needs manganese but cannot make it.

Now it’s thought the product could rival New Zealand manuka honey which has been linked to bacterial growth.

The founder of the Scottish Bee Company, Suzie Millar, who commissioned the research, said its findings were a chance discovery.

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Millar said: “We got a phone call [from Fera Science, the research agency] to say that they had found out something amazing.

“My response was that heather honey has just gone from something that you pop on your porridge to an essential food. It was pure excitement.

“We have been trying to do bits of research ourselves over the years so the fact that this information arrived on our laps during separate research is amazing. We really think that Scottish heather honey could be a rival to manuka honey on a global scale.”

Fera Science tested two samples of Scottish heather honey as part of wider analysis – they found each piece had 14.5mg of manganese per kg, more than honey from countries like Germany and France.

It is thought the high level of the trace mineral could be a result of manganese-rich soil around Scottish moorlands.

Heather pollen is collected by bees and brought to hives where it is collected by apiarists.

Adrian Charlton who oversaw the Fera Science research said only nuts were known to be more rich in manganese.

He said: “[This is] the first time we have seen significant levels of this kind of nutrient in honey.

“We didn’t know that honey of any type could be a significant source of dietary manganese before this piece of work was completed.”

Millar’s company is now set to repackage its heather honey to promote the health benefits. She added: “What’s even more exciting is that it doesn’t need to be imported from other countries.”