Keep Popping!

by Bea | January 10th, 2024 | Diet Strategy, Healthy Snacks
popcorn (1201x1200)

If you are looking for a healthy snack, look no further than popcorn! Well, okay, there are some guidelines that you should look into before just grabbing any bag of popcorn and assuming that is a healthy snack. Popcorn that is drenched in butter, salt, sugar, chocolate, or something else is probably not going to be a good, healthy snack for you. However, plain popcorn does have some great qualities that allow it to be a good, filling, snack.

Actually, according to a chemist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, plain popcorn has some great health benefits. In comparison to most other snacks, popcorn actually has more fiber, more antioxidants, less calories, and less fat. One of the best benefits of popcorn is its high level of healthy antioxidants called polyphenols.

Polyphenols have been known to combat deadly diseases such as heart disease or cancer. In just one serving of plain popcorn, you can get about 200 milligrams of polyphenols. You should get about two grams of polyphenals per day. While fruits and vegetables also are high in their polyphenol content, they are also made up of a lot more water than popcorn is (which has no water in it). That being said, the polyphenol content of fruits and vegetables is diluted and therefore, on a weight basis, popcorn is higher in antioxidants.

Here is the funny part; none of those awesome health benefits are found in the white part of the popcorn! If you are on the hunt for the health benefits, you have to eat the kernel. If you pick a kernel out of your teeth, eat it! That is where all the good stuff is! Also, the researchers found that, in terms of antioxidant levels, there is no difference between microwaving or air-popping the popcorn.

Popcorn is a great snack to have when you are craving that crunchy, filling flavor. If you are bored with the plain flavor, it is okay to add some flavor to your mix. However, I would highly recommend staying away from the flavored bags that you find in your local grocery store. Instead, grab a bag of plain popcorn, and add your own toppings.

For example, for a sweet and salty flavor, use extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil has some health benefits on its own, and it tastes pretty yummy, too! You could also simply mix in a little bit of sea salt or rock salt. These salts are healthier than refined salts because they do not usually contain too many additives. If you are looking for a sweeter flavor, try using raw, organic sugar!

Another flavor idea you could try out is Indian-spiced. Take some crushed coriander and a little bit of cayenne. This will help you avoid using salts to add flavor. For a cheesy flavor, use nutritional yeast. It is full of B-vitamins, is naturally salty, and has amino acids in it. Looking for your chocolate fix? Melt some chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle them over the popcorn. For the best results, spread the popcorn on a baking sheet and let it sit until the chocolate hardens.

Overall, popcorn can be a really healthy snack as long as you eat it in moderation and in a relatively simple style!

(Photo courtesy of Bill Davenport)

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.