Is Popcorn a Healthy Snack to Eat?
If you want some guilt-free snacks, why not try whole-grain treats like popcorn?
Healthy Components of Popcorn
According to research, this snack contains many polyphenols, which are antioxidants that are good for the body. It may even have more polyphenols compared to some fruits and veggies.
Fruits generally contain 160 milligrams of polyphenols per serving and sweet corn has only 114 mg of polyphenols per serving, whereas popcorn has as much as 300 mg per serving. The reason for the low quantity of polyphenols in fruits and vegetables is their high 90 percent water content, which dilutes polyphenols. Popcorn is only 4 percent water so it has a more concentrated amount of polyphenols.
Based on average statistics, Americans get 225 mg of polyphenols from fruits per day and 218 mg from vegetables per day. Compare that quantity with a serving of popcorn, which can already give 13 percent of the recommended daily intake of polyphenols.
Researchers previously thought that popcorn has low levels of polyphenols, but recent research proved otherwise. Its polyphenols content is the same as that of nuts and 15 times more than that of whole-grain tortilla chips.
And the popcorn hulls, which often get caught in between the teeth, have the most concentration of polyphenols. Fiber, too.
Popcorn is the only grain snack that is 100 percent whole grain. All other grain products, such as cereals, are not 100 percent whole grain after processing. Diluting the grains with other ingredients makes them only 51 percent whole grain.
When a person eats a serving of popcorn, he gets over 70 percent of the recommended daily intake of whole grain. Generally, Americans get only a half serving of whole grains per day. So, eating popcorn can help fill the lack of whole grains in the diet.
Just be sure not to add too much salt or other flavorings and butter or this healthy snack can get you into trouble.
In terms of calories, air-popped popcorn contains the lowest. Microwave popcorn and those you pop in oil yourself contains twice the calories of air-popped popcorn. But microwave popcorn has 43 percent fat, while the popcorn you pop in oil yourself has 28 percent fat.
Now, don’t neglect your fruits and vegetables. Just because it’s considered healthy to eat popcorn, it doesn’t mean that you should skip eating fresh fruits and veggies. Not all the vitamins and nutrients that fruits and vegetables have can be found in popcorn.
All the information mentioned in this article come from a university-funded study and is not sponsored by any food company. The data are considered preliminary until they appear in a peer-reviewed journal.
Photo credits: o5com via Flickr, CC by 2.0