Carotenoids are yellow and orange plant pigments known for their association in the prevention of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. Vegetables such as carrots, spinach and tomatoes are frequently associated with high levels of carotenoids; however, given the findings of this study, milled yellow corn products should be included in this category of antioxidant-rich foods.
The study found that the carotenoids found in milled yellow corn products have a high level of bioaccessibility, which is the amount of nutrients available for absorption by the body after digestion. In fact, the process of milling corn products makes key vitamins and nutrients more easily utilized than from many other foods.
"The bioaccessibility of carotenoids from milled corn products is as high if not higher than many other foods such as spinach, carrots and tomatoes, which are well-known for their high levels of carotenoid antioxidants," explained Ferruzzi, associate professor, department of Food Science, Purdue University.
Milled corn is found in a wide variety of food including corn meal, grits, corn flour, corn flakes and breakfast cereals.
"Vegetables remain an important source of carotenoids, but this study demonstrates that consumers of all ages can feel good about eating milled corn products knowing that they provide essential nutrients to keep the body healthy," said Judi Adams, MS, RD and president of the Grain Foods Foundation.
From the October 27, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash