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New Study Reveals Health Benefits of Corn

October 22, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 22, 2008 – The North American Millers’ Association and the National Corn Growers Association partnered to fund a scientific research project to study the health benefits of corn. The project, “Impact of corn dry milling on profile and bioaccessibility of bioactive carotenoids,” was awarded to Mario G. Ferruzzi and Ellie George Kean, researchers for the Department of Food Science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

This was the first research project that specifically analyzed the health benefits of milled corn products. Research results were presented at the Insitute of Food Technologists 2008 Annual Meeting and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Dr. Ferruzzi and graduate student Ellie Kern studied how the milling process impacts the final carotenoid profile and modulates the bioaccessibility of carotenoids from corn.

Research Conclusions

  • Milled corn products are a good source of carotenoids (90-350 micrograms per 100 grams food).
  • Corn carotenoids are highly bioaccessible (>50%) from model food systems including corn bread, wet cooked grits and extruded products. Bioaccessibility is a solid estimate of bioavailability, which is the amount of nutrients available to the body after digestion.
    • Absolute bioaccessibility is generally proportional to starting food content.
    • Relative bioaccessibility is slightly higher than other fruits and vegetables.
  • The presence of added fiber (typical negative effector) from whole grain does not appear to limit carotenoid bioaccessibility.

Carotenoids and the Prevention of Chronic Disease

The consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk of several chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and age related macular degeneration. Fruits and vegetables are important dietary sources of carotenoids. Carotenoids possess biological activities consistent with preventative effects including Provitamin A and antioxidant activity, modulation of cell signaling and modulation of inflammatory response. The process of milling corn products makes key vitamins and nutrients more easily utilized than from many other foods.

Food Design Opportunities

  • Delivery of a biological antioxidant.
  • Easily formulated into snacks, cereals and other foodstuffs.
  • Bioaccessibility is high in model food processing systems.

NAMA is the trade association representing 48 companies that operate 170 wheat, oat and corn mills in 38 states and Canada. Their collective production capacity exceeds 160 million pounds of product each day, more than 95 percent of the total industry production.

Carotenoids in milled corn products are stable to digestion and a high percentage are available for subsequent absorption.

CONTACT: Terri Long, Director of Communications
202.484.2200, ext.11
[email protected]

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