August 18/London/Daily Mail -- Popcorn could help prevent cancer, research suggests.
Scientists discovered the snack food contains "surprisingly large" levels of health-boosting antioxidants called polyphenols.
Polyphenols in fruit and vegetables are thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
The U.S. study is the first to establish that snack foods and some wholegrain breakfast cereals -- thought healthy because of their high fiber content -- are a source of polyphenols.
Dr Joe Vinson, who led the study, said early research indicated fiber was behind the health benefits of wholegrains, "but recently, polyphenols emerged as potentially more important."
The study measured polyphenol concentration in breakfast cereals and snacks, showing there are more antioxidants in less processed wholegrain cereals, while popcorn has the most among the snack foods tested.
Vinson, a chemist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania who presented his findings to the American Chemical Society in Washington, added, "Wholegrain products have comparable antioxidants per gram to fruits and vegetables."
From the August 31, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition