Posted by at 3:06 pm  Nutrition & Health  Add comments
Aug 272013

We all love popcorn, but how nutritious is it?  Very, according to a recent scientific study showing the crunchy grain snack has higher antioxidant levels than many fresh, healthy nutritious foods like apples, bananas and carrots.

Popcorn, the air popped variety, has long been considered a good diet food because of its low calorie count, but new research is showing that it also helps fight harmful molecules which can damage cells.  It sounds like it’s time to take the nutrition benefits of popcorn  a bit more seriously.  Let’s find out why………

What are the health benefits of Popcorn?

Scientists discovered one serving, about 3 cups, of popcorn contains up to 300 mg of antioxidants, which is nearly double the 160 mg found in fruit per serving.

Researchers at theUniversityofScranton(Pa.) ran a lab analysis on the content in several types and brands of popcorn and found that the crunchy hull is rich in polyphenols — antioxidants that prevent damage to cells.

The hull is where the most nutritional polyphenols are — not the white fluffy part.  The polyphenols are concentrated in hulls because popcorn doesn’t have a lot of water and because it’s 100% whole grain. Some other foods that have polyphenols, such as fruits and vegetables, contain a lot more water. Popcorn is made of just 4% water, which means the antioxidants are far more concentrated .

This does not mean you can just eat popcorn, or that it is an alternative to fruits and vegetables—no way–but there’s nothing wrong with eating popcorn with a little oil within a balanced diet.  Drenched in butter, not so good!

Because popcorn is a whole grain, which includes three parts: the germ, the bran and the endosperm, it is high in fiber, and keeps you feeling full longer.

What are the nutrition facts on Popcorn?

A 3 cup serving of air popped* popcorn has 93 calories, 3.3 g fat, no cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 3.1 g protein and 3.5 g of dietary fiber.

*Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories while microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped.

How should I prepare the Popcorn?

The best way to eat popcorn is air popped.  Does anyone still have one of those poppers?

If not, use at least a 3 qt. saucepan for 1/3 cup popcorn (use a high quality organic popcorn) and a high smoke point oil, such as canola, coconut, peanut, or grapeseed.  . See our article on cooking oils at http://whatisnutritiontips.com/do-you-need-an-oil-change/.  Use only as much oil as you need to coat the bottom of the pan.  Heat oil to medium high heat and test 3-4 kernels.  When they start to pop, add the remaining kernals and cover.  Try to keep the lid ajar to release steam and gently move the pan back and forth over the burner until popping slows.  Immediately empty in to bowl.  Season and serve.

Fun facts and Tips on Popcorn

  • Today, annual consumption of popcorn inAmericaexceeds 1 billion lb (0.45 billion kg) or 71 quarts (67 liters) per person per year. The states ofIndiana,Iowa,Illinois, andOhiolead the field.
  • Of the volume grown in theUnited States, 10% is used for seed and sold outside theUnited States; 30% is sold at ball games, movies, fairs, and circuses; and 60% is consumed in the home.
  • Use an olive oil sprayer to add flavor and help seasonings stick.
  • Season popcorn with celery salt, cayenne, Cajun seasoning, curry, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, or parmesan cheese, which adds a healthy dose of calcium.
  • If you’re craving something sweet try adding cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Check out this week’s recipe, seen on Dr. Oz for double-coconut popcorn.

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