Some people balk at the idea of popcorn being a healthy snack. After all, movie theater popcorn has the reputation of being a real artery clogger. While this may be true, popcorn prepared without a pool of butter and a heavy layer of salt may not be so unhealthy after all.
The Health Benefits Of Popcorn: A Surprising Study
A new study carried out at the University of Scranton showed that popcorn has some surprising health benefits. Popcorn is high in antioxidants, most notably, polyphenols – a group of natural plant chemicals that have a variety of health benefits. Polyphenols are the same group of compounds that give red wine, tea, olive oil, and chocolate their beneficial properties. Not only do they scavenge free radicals and protect against cell damage, they’re being investigated for their anti-cancer properties and heart protective properties. In fact, the researchers found that the polyphenol content of good, old-fashioned popcorn rivals that of many fruits and vegetables.
Another health benefit of popcorn? It’s a whole grain in the same league as oatmeal, barley, brown rice, and millet – grains that are known for their health benefits. All of these grains retain the bran and germ of the plant which is the source of most of the vitamins and minerals – in contrast to refined grains where these vitamin-rich components have been stripped away. Three cups of popcorn is equivalent to a single serving of a whole grain food. Popcorn is also a good source of fiber which helps to increase satiety and give a sense of fullness and satisfaction that lasts for hours. This can be helpful for weight control since popcorn without butter is low in calories.
To Get the Health Benefits of Popcorn – Prepare It Right
Even though the health benefits of popcorn are impressive when compared to other snacks, the way its prepared makes all the difference. If popped in oil and doused in butter, its high fat content will override many of its good aspects. The best way to prepare it is to air pop it and go very light on the butter. Avoid using margarines containing trans fats on popcorn since trans fats are even worse from a health standpoint than the saturated fat found in butter. Resist the temptation to shake on too much salt. Most Americans get too much sodium and popcorn doesn’t need it to be tasty. A better way to flavor popcorn to preserve its health benefits is to sprinkle on a little garlic, salt-free chili powder, or low-fat parmesan cheese sprinkles.
The Bottom Line?
The health benefits of popcorn will shine through when this tasty, whole grain snack is prepared properly. Enjoy this tasty, “good for you” treat!