Cancer Fighting Phenolic Acids In Corn Disappear When Processed Into Cornflakes


Corn can be a particularly healthy food as it contains healthy phenolics that can help our body. Two studies focused on p-courmaric acid content and ferulic acid and researchers investigated what happens to these when corn is processed into corn flakes.

“What we found was not particularly good news, but it was interesting. Regardless of the concentration in the grain at the beginning, the dry-milling process removes the majority of phenolics,” revealed Dr Carrie Butts-Wilmsmeyer, who is Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I and lead author of the studies.

The phenolic compounds are not lost entirely

The researchers discovered that there are major changes in phenolic content and they take place in the dry-milling process in three different stages. Phenolics were lost during whole kernel, flaking grit and toasted corn flake. These makes corn flakes less healthy than corn.

The researches have also discovered that phenolics are not lost completely in the final product. Therefore, they might find out how to save them. “Our study showed that at the beginning, there’s variability in corn hybrids for all these compounds but through processing, it’s all leveled off, it’s all gone. But they’re still in the co-products, and I think we could actually recover them and add them to the end product.”

“Since we now have the process miniaturised and can control everything in the lab, we can also start figuring out how we can change the process to recover more of these compounds in the end product,” concluded Martin Bohn, co-author of the studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I. The studies were made through a USDA Hatch Grant and they were supported by Dow AgroSciences and the Kellogg Company.


Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to


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