As previously mentioned, a little known fact about popcorn is that it is actually a whole grain food and a source of fiber. In fact, there is a gram of fiber in every cup of popped popcorn. Add to that the fact that that cup of popped popcorn has only thirty calories. Of course, this assumes that the popcorn was air popped without oil, butter, or margarine. A cup of air popped, low calorie popcorn can be a satisfying, low fat snack to munch n while watching television. You can?t even discredit popcorn in the salt department. There?s only about a milligram of sodium in one cup of popped corn. This assumes that you?re not dousing it in salt after it?s prepared. Would it surprise you to learn that popcorn has more protein than in other cereal grain? Popcorn when it?s prepared the right way can be a healthy, high protein snack.
The downside to popcorn is that most people don?t eat popcorn plain, without salt and butter. Instead, they douse it in the yellow stuff and aggressively flavor it with salt. The calories and sodium content can quickly accumulate, turning this healthy snack into a high fat, high sodium disaster. They may also take the approach of eating their popcorn ?Cracker Jack? style , coated in a caramel shell which turns a sugar-free snack into one that?s loaded with sugar. Another health risk of popcorn is that the small unpopped kernels that inevitably end up in the bottom of the bag are risky for small children to eat. Experts advise not giving popcorn to babies or toddlers.
So, is popcorn good for you and should you serve it as a snack to your family? If you can pop your corn using an air popper, this whole grain snack can provide a variety of health benefits including better digestive function due to its fiber content while adding minimal fat or calories. Instead of dousing your popcorn in butter, try spraying it with a fat-free spray margarine product that?s free of trans fats. This will eliminate that pool of butter found in the bottom of most popcorn bowls that make it unhealthy. Instead of going heavy on the salt, season popcorn with a touch of garlic or low-fat powdered parmesan cheese. This is a healthy way to add satisfying flavor to popcorn. Be mindful of how much you?re eating of this whole grain treat. Even though it?s low in calories, if you eat ten cups, it loses some of its calorie advantage.
All in all, whether popcorn is good for you is determined by how you prepare it. Prepare it ?healthy style? and it?s a guilt free snack you can enjoy and serve to your family.
Popcorn is good for you, say scientists
Popcorn is the latest and most unlikely food shown to have health-boosting properties.
The traditional cinema snack contains “surprisingly large” amounts of healthy antioxidant plant chemicals called polyphenols, scientists have found.
Tests showed that the compounds account for 2.5 per cent of popcorn kernels by weight - higher levels than were seen in a range of other cereal products.
Polyphenols, also found in fruits, vegetables, chocolate, wine, coffee and tea, are known to protect the heart and reduce the risk of cancer.
US chemist Dr Joe Vinson, who made the discovery, said: “We really were surprised by the levels of polyphenols we found in popcorn. I guess its because it’s not processed. You get all the wonderful ingredients of the corn undiluted and protected by the skin. In my opinion it’s a good health food.”
Dr Vinson’s research supports the idea that polyphenols in whole grains, rather than their fibre content, is what makes them healthy.
His team at the University of Scanton in Pennsylvania analysed a range of whole grain breakfast cereals and snacks.
The researchers found the products contained similar levels of antioxidants per gram as fruits and vegetables.
Popcorn was one of the richest sources. In comparison, breakfast cereals had polyphenol levels ranging from 0.03 per cent to 0.5 per cent by weight.
Huge variations were seen between different brands of the same cereal products due to processing, said Dr Vinson.
“If you made your own granola cereal from grains, nuts and dried fruit, that would be the optimum,” he added.
The findings were presented today at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in Washington DC.
Hot breakfast foods such as porridge oats had disappointingly low levels of polyphenols, said Dr Vinson.
Microwave Popcorn: Good or Bad?
It is said that the average American eats about 60 quarts of popcorn per year. And while some people might still use those hot air poppers and butter-flavored flakes; and others might search for those aluminum Jiffy-Pop
things you cook over the stove top, for most of us that means our 60 quarts of popcorn was made in the microwave.
And since I probably eat more microwave popcorn than the average American, I was extremely disappointed to read recent headlines about cancer-causing chemicals in microwave popcorn. There is even something called “popcorn workers lung” said to be caused by these carcinogens.
Here’s the good and bad of what I found out. And if you are in a hurry to know what a serious problem it is, I just finished a bag of microwave popcorn…and not one of those little snack bags either.
Well, popcorn can be a nice healthy snack. Popcorn by itself is a practically fat-free food. But you aren’t going to find a bag of microwave popcorn with plain old kernels in it. A bag of regular microwave popcorn with butter flavor is going to have about 24 grams of fat and 500-600 mg of sodium. A bag is two servings, but really, we know you just eat the whole bag.
So popcorn might not even be that good for your diet. I know it’s hard to watch a movie without the greasy, salty, crunchy snack, but you might want to at least reading the labels and looking for low-fat, lower-fat, and practically fat-free versions. Orville Redenbacher has some low fat microwave popcorn options that taste just as good as the fat-laden ones.
Or you can pop your own. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet, toss in some popcorn, put on a lid, and let it pop. Gently move the skillet as the kernels pop, to avoid any kernels sticking and burning. Add your own melted butter, salt, or other flavorings. That’s how we made popcorn when I grew up before microwaves and microwave popcorn.
But fat and sodium aren’t the only bad news about microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn bags are made of paper, but the inside of the bags are coated with a substance to keep the paper bag from disintegrating from grease and heat. When heated, this substance breaks down into something called PFOA.