Nutritionists have recommended regular consumption of green tea, red wine, fruits, nuts and a few other food categories for their antioxidant content. Vinson found that cereals containing whole-grain corn or oats contained the most polyphenols, roughly 0.2 percent by weight per box. Wheat-based cereals contained an average of 0.07 percent polyphenols, and rice cereals contained the lowest amount, at 0.05 percent.
Raisin bran had the most polyphenols -- 3 percent by weight; however, Vinson attributed the concentration to the raisins -- like other dried fruits, a known rich source of antioxidants.
Another high-ranking cereal was a wheat-based blend containing the polyphenol-rich spice cinnamon. Vinson declined to name the brands he tested, but he encouraged people to add nuts, raisins and various spices like cinnamon to their cereal to boost their polyphenol content.
As for snacks, Vinson found that popcorn had the most polyphenols (2.6 percent), followed by whole-grain crackers (0.45 percent). Sadly, most processed tortilla chips -- Vinson's favorite -- contained negligible amounts of polyphenols.
Registered dietician and nutritionist Eva To, who practices in White Plains, N.Y., said she found the study fascinating, but she had some concerns.
"Whole-grain cereal is a great replacement for high-fat breakfast food or as a replacement for no breakfast at all, since breakfast is the most important meal of the day," said To, who specializes in obesity and diabetes management. "But moderation is the key. Many cereals contain ingredients that may not be very good for you, such as excessive sugar."
Also, she added, "cereals are easy to binge on. It is very important to follow the serving size suggestions."
To Vinson, the benefits of eating more cereals may outweigh the negatives.
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