Whole grains appear chock full of heart-healthy antioxidants

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Nutritionists say whole grains are good for you because they contain a lot of fiber. Now, new research shows they’re also packed full of polyphenol antioxidants — substances that help to rid your body of harmful free radicals, highly reactive molecules and ions that can damage your cells. 

You’ve probably heard good things about some other foods that contain polyphenol antioxidants: tea, coffee, dark chocolate, olive oil, and red wine. Today, in research presented to the American Chemical Society, University of Scranton chemists reveal the surprising quantity of antioxidants in popular breakfast cereals too, as well as in crackers, pasta, flours and snack foods. The cereal with the most antioxidants per serving is Raisin Bran, according to the research (mostly because of the raisins, mind you). The best snack food — by far — is popcorn. The overall antioxidant rankings of whole grains per serving of cold breakfast cereal, in order, is wheat, corn, oats, and then rice.

On the whole, a gram of whole-grain products contains comparable antioxidants to a gram of fruit and veggies, the researchers say. That’s good news for Americans, who probably get about 10% of their daily antioxidant intake from whole grains, according to the new research. But make sure you’re getting whole grains. Processed grain products don’t seem to be nearly so antioxidant-rich.