Did you know that whole grain products, such as whole grain cereals and popcorn, are extremely healthy and not only for their high fiber content? These common breakfast and snack foods are rich in antioxidant substances, of which fruits and vegetables were generally considered to be our only really significant source until now. These antioxidants, called “polyphenols,” can also be found in wine, tea leaves, coffee, olive oil, walnuts, and chocolate. However, not to the same degree as in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These polyphenols may be the leading way to reduce risk of cancer and heart disease.
Fiber used to be considered the ingredient in fruits and vegetables that might result in a reduced risk of major diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Recently, however, researchers have found that antioxidants such as polyphenols might be even more important. According to Joe Vinson, Ph.D., polyphenols “remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are chemicals that have the potential to cause damage to cells and tissues in the body.”
In the new study, researchers from the American Chemical Society found that whole grains may have very similar amounts of antioxidants as fruits and vegetables! “We found that, in fact, whole grain products have comparable antioxidants per gram to fruits and vegetables,” reported Vinson. He said that the highest sources of polyphenols in whole grain cereals are in wheat, corn, oat, and rice based cereals (respectively). Moreover, the largest amounts of these antioxidants per serving are found in raisin bran.
Wheat bran cereals don’t contain more polyphenols than wheat cereals. However, they are richer in fiber.
Popular breakfast cereals have a little higher amount of antioxidants than whole grain snack foods or crackers, among which popcorn is the richest in polyphenols.
When you go shopping for your breakfast cereals and snacks, make sure to look for whole grain foods!
Image Credit: Darren Hester via flickr under a Creative Commons license