Proceedings of the 56th Italian Society of Agricultural Genetics Annual Congress Perugia, Italy – 17/20 September, 2012 ISBN 978-88-904570-1-2 Oral Communication Abstract – 6.04 CONSTITUTION AND STUDY OF A NOVEL FUNCTIONAL FOOD: PURPLE POPCORN LAGO C.*, LANDONI M.**, DORIA E.***, NIELSEN E.***, PILU R.* *) Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Ambientali - Produzione, Territorio, Agroenergia, Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano (Italy) **) Dipartimento di Bioscienze- Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Celoria 26, 20133 Milano (Italy) ***) Dipartimento di Genetica e Microbiologia, Università di Pavia, Via Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia (Italy) popcorn, anthocyanin, functional food In the last years several epidemiological studies have shown a link between the consumption of plant-derived foods and a range of health benefits. In particular a lot of scientific reports suggest that a special class of phytonutrient, the anthocyanins, exhibits an antioxidant capacity, able to protect human and animal health from chronic diseases. The anthocyanins are the blue, purple and red heterosides produced by plants for several purposes such as the protection against biotic and abiotic stresses and the attraction of the impollinators and seed dispersers. These molecules are widespread in plant kingdom, so several health organizations around the world recommend an increase in the intake of plant derived food to prevent chronic diseases. However according to an American study while the average number of snacks per day is increasing, the consumption of fruits and vegetables remains lower than the recommended range. This trend seems to raise the intakes of calories, leading likely to problems related to obesity. On the other hand snacking can improve the intakes of important micronutrients in the population, especially for people at nutritional risk. So a partial solution could be to develop a functional snack rich in healthy phytonutrients such as popcorn. Compared to other processed snack foods, popcorn has several healthy attributes: low calories and fat amount, high carbohydrates and fiber content, traits that keep it high on the list of favourites healthy snack. In this work we developed a coloured pop corn variety enriched in anthocyanins by recurrent selection scheme with the aim to obtain an healthier snack. To verify the breeding work, some yield traits, nutritional features and quality characteristics on the coloured popcorn in comparison with the traditional yellow one were measured. The traits considered important were the germination and the popping abilities and the PEV (Popping Expansion Volume). Further analyses were carried on regarding the measurement of the anthocyanins content before and after the microwave treatment, a TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography), a HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography) and the DPPH radical scavenging ability to find out whether and in which extent the treatment is able to degrade or to shift these pigments. Finally it was also checked the different taste perception between coloured and uncoloured popcorn.