US study shows popcorn polyphenol levels are higher than fruit and vegetables
Researchers from the University of Scranton, in the United States, say that popcorn contains more of the healthful antioxidant substances called “polyphenols” than fruits and vegetables.
The university’s Chemistry Professor, Joe Vinson, presented the findings at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) this week.
Previous studies have found low concentrations of free polyphenols in popcorn, but Dr Vinson’s study was the first to calculate total polyphenols in popcorn. The amounts of these antioxidants were much higher than previously believed, he said.
The levels of polyphenols rivaled those in nuts and were up to 15 times greater than whole-grain tortilla chips.
The new study found that the polyphenols level found in popcorn was up to 300mg a serving compared to 114mg for a serving of sweet corn and 160mg for all fruits per serving.
One serving of popcorn would provide 13 per cent of an average intake of polyphenols a day per person in the United States. Fruits provide 255mg per day of polyphenols and vegetables provide 218 mg per day to the average U.S. diet.
Dr Vinson explained that the polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn, which averages only about four per cent water, while polyphenols are diluted in the 90 per cent water that makes up many fruits and vegetables.
Dr Vinson pointed out that popcorn cannot replace fresh fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and other nutrients that are critical for good health, but are missing from popcorn.