Researchers from University of Illinois College of Agricultural suggested that food processing techniques to obtain flakes from corn deplete phenolic acids in the grain.
Highly processed foods are commonly present in the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although the raw grains used for the production of these processed foods are high in vitamins and health-promoting phenolic compounds, the final product after extensive processing leads to loss of these nutrients. Phenolic acid is a phytochemical found in a variety of plant-based foods such as seeds and skins of fruits and the leaves of vegetables. It works as antioxidant that prevents cellular damage due to free-radical oxidation reactions. Furthermore, it aids in anti-inflammatory conditions and helps in treatment of cancer.
The researchers made cornflakes from 19 corn genotypes that contained different quantities of phenolic acids to deduce whether higher ferulic acid and p-courmaric acid in the corn kernel translated to higher concentrations of phenolic acid in the final product. It was observed that dry-milling process isolated the majority of phenolic acid regardless of its concentration in the grain. Phenolic compounds are predominant in the barn or the outer covering of the corn kernel. However, the barn is removed in the first step of the dry-milling process. The remaining soluble phenolic content was increased by heating the starchy leftovers as heat can release bound forms of the compounds and improve the antioxidant content of corn-based foods. However, the quantity of phenolic acid was very less. The three stages of the dry-milling process: whole kernel, flaking grit, and toasted cornflake are major cause of depletion of phenolic content in the processed foods. Researchers stated that fortifying processed foods with healthy and cancer-fighting phenolic acids could benefit people living in food deserts that hardly have access to fresh foods. The research was published in the Journal of Visualized Experiment on June 16, 2018.