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Kettle Corn May Help Prevent Cancer
Eating kettle corn is good for you and may even help prevent cancer.
Scientists have long known that whole grains are heart-healthy. But a first-of-its-kind study from the University of Scranton found that kettle corn, breakfast cereals, and other grain-based snack foods are packed with antioxidants called polyphenols.
Polyphenols in foods such as fruits, vegetables, wine, coffee, tea, berries, olives, and chocolate are thought to help reduce the risk of many diseases. They remove free radicals — the chemicals that can cause damage to cells and tissues — from the body.
Until now, no one knew that commercial cold and hot whole-wheat cereals and snack foods like kettle corn also were a good source of polyphenols. This is important for health because the average American diet consists of a high percentage of these foods.
“Cereals, pasta, crackers and salty snacks constitute over 66 percent of whole grain intake in the U.S.” said Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton.
“Early researchers thought the fiber was the active ingredient for these benefits in whole grains — the reason why they may reduce the risk of cancer and coronary artery disease,” he said. “But recently, polyphenols emerged as potentially more important.”
“This is the first study to examine total phenol antioxidants in breakfast cereals and snacks,” Vinson said. “We found that, in fact, whole-grain products have comparable antioxidants per gram to fruits and vegetables.”
The study found that whole grains are very high in antioxidants, with the most antioxidants in cereals made with wheat, corn, oats, and rice, in descending order. Whole grain snacks have slightly lower levels than cereals.
Popcorn has the highest antioxidant level of all whole grain snack foods — more than five times higher than its nearest rival.
Tortilla chips, for example, lagged far behind popcorn, with 10 times less antioxidants than popcorn.
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