Research on Antioxidants Found in Snack Foods and Cereal Presented

Aug 19, 2009

        University of Scranton Chemistry Professor Joe Vinson, Ph.D., presented research on the amount of healthful antioxidant substances, called polyphenols, found in snack foods and whole grain cereals at the 238th annual national meeting of the American Chemical Society, which took place this week in Washington D.C.

        "Epidemiological studies have shown that consumption of whole grain foods reduce the risk for certain cancers, coronary heart disease and obesity," said Dr. Vinson. "Whole grains contain vitamins, minerals and fiber along with phenolic compounds, predominately the class known as phenolic acids. Phenolic acids are excellent antioxidants."

        Dr. Vinson's study measured the total number of polyphenols in whole grain flours, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, hot cereals and other grain foods and snacks, such as crackers, chips and popcorn. 

        He found many popular breakfast cereals and snacks foods like popcorn have a "surprisingly large" amount of antioxidants.
His research found that products from whole grains have comparable antioxidants per gram as fruits and vegetables, and whole grain flours are also very high in antioxidants. Processed grain is low. In general, cold cereals performed better than hot cereals. Whole grains faired much better than processed grains.

        Dr. Vinson's research shows Raisin Bran as having the highest amount of antioxidants per serving (524mg), but that is primarily due to the raisins. His study also found cinnamon flavored cereals to be much higher in antioxidants due mainly to the spices.

        As for snack foods, "Popcorn has far and away the greatest amount of antioxidants among the snack foods," said Dr. Vinson.

        Dr. Vinson discussed his research at an American Chemical Society news conference and related his results to the American diet (see press conference at

        At the press conference, Dr. Vinson noted that, overall, Americans do consume the right amount of grains, however only 15 percent of the consumption is of whole grains, far below the 50 percent level recommended by the U.S. government.

        "Americans are eating enough grains, but not the right kinds," said Dr. Vinson. "We need to eat more whole grains, not more grains. Too much of our intake is from refined grains containing less antioxidants. Consumers need to pay attention to labels to make sure that the first ingredient listed is whole grain."

        Vinson has studied the antioxidant properties found in foods for more than two decades. The research he presented at the 2005 ACS national meeting on the antioxidant properties of coffee as it relates to the Americans' diet resulted in international press coverage.

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