Healthy vitamins and phenolic acids are lost during production
Cornflakes are a popular breakfast dish. The packaging often suggests that it is a healthy product with many valuable ingredients. This may be true for the unprocessed ingredients, but as an American study recently revealed, many useful substances, especially phenolic acid, are lost during industrial processing.
A team of researchers from the University of Illinois recently published a study that shows how valuable nutrients are lost in the processing of cornflakes, even if the raw materials such as maize are rich in vitamins and health-promoting phenolic acid. The scientists reveal what happens to the nutrients during production. The study results were recently published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry".
19 different types of corn as a basis
In their studies, the scientists produced cornflakes from 19 different maize genotypes. All varieties differed in the content of healthy ingredients such as ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid. The researchers wanted to determine whether increased concentrations of these acids in the raw material lead to higher concentrations of phenolic acid in the end product.
Not good news for cornflakes fans
"What we found was not particularly good news, but it was interesting," said Carrie Butts-Wilmsmeyer, lead author of the study, in a university press release on the study results. According to the expert, the healthy phenolic compounds in maize are mainly found in the bran or the outer shell of the maize kernel. These are removed in the first steps of processing.
Subsequent feeding did not have the desired effect
In further experiments, the research team tried to extract valuable phenolic acids from the starch-containing maize residues in order to be able to feed them in later processing stages. The level of antioxidants could be improved so minimally, but the results were so low that the effort would hardly be worth it.
Minimum size for maximum success?
"We saw an increase in soluble phenols, but it was so small that you would have no significant benefit from it," Butts-Wilmsmeyer emphasizes. Nevertheless, the researchers see the results as important findings for the food industry. So the scientists developed a production method for cornflakes that can only produce 100 grams. The next largest production size is 45 kilograms. With the minimized process, a much more intensive food research can now be carried out, the experts explain.
Small portions could bring the hoped-for breakthrough
"Now that we have miniaturized the process and can control everything in the laboratory, we can also find out how we can change the process," explains Martin Bohn, co-author of the study. He hopes to be able to create a healthier end product.
The focus is on waste products
"We have to focus on bran and other waste products," said Bohn. The healthy ingredients are still present in the waste products. Bohn believes it is possible to develop a process to add these ingredients back to the end product.
Health benefits of phenolic acids
Phenolic acids are said to have a positive effect on the human organism. They are said to have health effects such as antioxidant, antibacterial and cancer-fighting effects. However, the mechanisms of action are still largely unknown. Studies in this area have shown that phenolic acids develop their health-promoting effects best when they are taken up in combination with other substances such as vitamins and trace elements.
Which foods are rich in phenolic acids?
What many coffee drinkers will enjoy: phenolic acid is present in coffee. The acid is also found in sea buckthorn fruits, lavender, caraway, St. John's wort and cloves. Whole rye, spinach and lettuce are also rich in it. With potatoes, like with maize, the phenolic acid is predominantly present in the skin. (vb)