Irish heather honey has antioxidant properties which are comparable to New Zealand's famed, and more expensive, manuka honey, according to new research.

A team from Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin examined 131 Irish honey samples and compared them with international varieties.

The majority, 124, of the Irish samples were multi-floral honeys; three were heather honeys; two were ivy honeys and two were oilseed rape honeys.

The research showed Irish heather honey had the highest TPC (Total Phenolic Content) of all Irish single origin honeys.

It also had a higher TPC than manuka honey.

Saorla Kavanagh with samples at her lab in DCU School of Chemical Sciences

Manuka honey has become increasingly popular in recent years, and tends to be sold as having health benefits.

The research was led by PhD student Saorla Kavanagh at DCU School of Chemical Sciences.

"My findings show that Irish honeys have a high phenolic content. Really interestingly, the research shows that the content in Irish heather honey is comparable to manuka honey, and in some cases Irish heather honey had a higher total phenolic content than manuka honey," she said.

"Our research shows that Irish honey is a high quality product and something that we should really value. Interest in beekeeping and honey production is growing in Ireland, and we are delighted to be able to support it," said Dr Blánaid White, from DCU.

The study also found that urban multi-floral honeys had a higher TPC than rural multi-floral honeys.

Honey of all kinds has been used in traditional remedies for thousands of years.

Today it is one of the most popular food products internationally, providing many benefits for overall health with its antioxidant, antibacterial, antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory properties.