Monday, May 14, 2012

Antioxidants? Look in your cereal box!

That’s right-your bowl of cereal may have a lot more nutrition than you knew. A recent study aimed at studying the anti-oxidant content of some of the popular breakfast cereals and whole grain snacks revealed that raisin bran cereals and popcorns contained a large amount of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are chemical substances that act like antioxidants and have been known to protect against health problems like cancer, heart problems and even prevent aging by removing free radicals from the body.
The study which was conducted by Dr. Joe Vinson at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania adds a new dimension to the benefits of whole grains. Whole grains were always known to be beneficial due to its fiber content, but the discovery of polyphenols greatly increases its nutritional value.
The researchers also pointed out that the polyphenol value increased with the addition of polyphenol-rich ingredients such as raisins and cocoa to the breakfast cereals. The study also concluded that among the whole-grain snacks, popcorn topped the list in having the highest amount of polyphenols.
Though this gives us more reason to reach out for whole-grain cereals and snacks, a general word of caution since some of these products can be high in terms of sugar(e.g.: breakfast cereals), fat and salt content (e.g.: popcorns).
A few tips to keep in mind while buying packaged products:
• The best thing to do is to check the labels.
• Choose cereals that have whole grains instead of refined.
• Buy cereals with less or no added sugars (less than 27% sugar) and sweeten your bowl of cereals with fresh/dried fruits (adding fruits will also increase the antioxidant content of the cereal).
• As for fat-choose cereals which have less than 9% fat.
• As far as popcorns are concerned, buying the corn kernels and popping them at home with a little oil and a dash of salt would be a better idea than buying the readymade microwavable sachets.