Is Popcorn Healthy: Possible Benefits and Dietary Tips
For most Americans, popcorn is associated with snacks. Amazingly, but it is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “cinema”. These days when many people are prone to consuming only organic and natural foods, eating popcorn seems the luxury that you can’t afford if you want to remain healthy.
Today’s popcorn differs from it used to be twenty years ago. Today, the production of this product involves a large number of different additives and bad oils. It means that popcorn turns have the high-calorie content and can’t be given to anyone who cares about the heart health as well. However, there is such thing as healthy popcorn, especially the homemade one. The following information will be useful to you if you are going to keep on eating popcorn and give it to your kids.
Popcorn nutrition facts
According to Healthline, popcorn can be good for everyone who lacks Vitamin B because it is stuffed with B vitamins. Particularly, B1 vitamin is required for the quick and healthy growth of your nails and hair. B1 vitamin that can be found in whole grain popcorn also plays an important role in metabolic processes and is responsible for the normal functioning of your cardiovascular system. Popcorn can be even recommended to athletes, people who are prone to the intense physical activity and the elderly. Popcorn can also cheer you up because of the high amount of B2 vitamin that may positively affect the levels of serotonin in the brain.
Also, natural popcorn contains fiber and potassium that are necessary for keeping the normal functioning of your digestive system. Additionally, plain popcorn without oil can be a great source of such essential elements as iron, zinc, sodium, magnesium, etc.
Polyphenols are another reason to treat yourself with popcorn because these natural elements can protect you from getting the certain kinds of cancer. Also, according to Mayo Clinic, polyphenols work as powerful antioxidants capable of removing the free radicals from a human body. Free radicals are the substances that can destroy body’s tissues and cells.
WebMD experts also researched the calorie content of popcorn. It turns out that 100 grams of air-popped popcorn (without any additives like salt and oil) contains no more than 387 calories. Add a bit of salt and the same portion already contains 450 calories. Sweet popcorn portion of the same size has up to 500 calories. A recent study claims that on average a person who eats popcorn snacks with sugar, oil or salt in a cinema can eat up to 1800 calories while watching one 90-minute movie. That is why if you want to eat popcorn in a cinema, then, at least, consider buying the smallest package of air popped popcorn and preferably with the minimum of additives.
Good health with popcorn: exploring the benefits
WebMD explains the benefits of organic, low-calorie popcorn. It can be actually great for your health from the multiple aspects:
- A 2012 study held at the University of Scranton claimed that organic popcorn has more antioxidants as most fruits do. For example, a standard serving of low-fat popcorn contains about 300 mg of antioxidants (polyphenols) while most fruits have only 160 mg per a serving. Besides, popcorn has only 4% of water and a higher concentration of polyphenols;
- Healthy fiber is another reason to eat popcorn. According to Dr. Josh Axe, 1 serving of popcorn is stuffed with 16% of your daily recommended intake of healthy, dietary fiber;
- Can serve as healthy snacks. Adding to your daily diet popcorn may be a good idea because it contains the minimum of calories (as it has been previously mentioned). A 2012 study held in Florida proved that popcorn can be a more filling snack than potato chips in your battle with hunger cravings;
- Popcorn can support your bones’ growth. Due to the high amount of manganese, popcorn can be a good source for supporting the bone health (for example, in the elderly or menopausal women).
Potential dangers of eating popcorn
However, even buying the products manufactured by the trusted healthy popcorn brands doesn’t guarantee that you would get only benefits from consuming this snack. Even organic popcorn can be bad for you. According to Mayo Clinic and Dr. Josh Axe, popcorn can be dangerous under such circumstances:
- There is a risk of popcorn allergy that can be revealed immediately after eating popcorn. If you have popcorn allergy, don’t get upset – try popped sorghum instead;
- Also, popcorn can’t be recommended to people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease;
- Recently, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restricted the use of the bags for microwave popcorn because they may break down into the potentially dangerous, cancer-causing chemical caused perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), Besides cancer, PFOA is commonly associated with the high levels of toxicity in a liver, kidney, and prostate. Also, this chemical may affect the development and growth of children;
- Another study held by American doctors claims that a regular large intake even of organic popping corn with a small amount of oil can lead to various diseases, particularly of the respiratory tract. This happens because of the chemical flavoring called diacetyl added to some oils and microwave popcorn products.
- Also, it may be reasonable to avoid eating salty popcorn because it causes thirst, delays the water consumption in a body and breaks down the natural water balance;
- Sweet popcorn, in its turn, is rich in calories and can seriously affect your liver;
- The most dangerous thing to do is to eat popcorn with butter due to the high amount of consumed calories and the lung problems;
- Regular eating of popcorn with flavor additives (like cheese, onion or bacon) can cause gastritis and ulcers.
Healthy popcorn recipes and serving tips
In order to get the most of popcorn, without overeating calories or getting serious health problems, the safest choice is consuming homemade popcorn. Also, consider refusing from buying microwave popcorn sold in supermarkets. Instead, opt for corn kernels and fry them with the vegetable oil or use a microwave for cooking homemade air-popped popcorn. It is also safe to sprinkle your popcorn with favorite organic spices. Another type to skip is popcorn in bags packaged for lunchboxes because it is loaded with chemicals and additives for flavoring and taste. Here is how you can make the healthiest homemade popcorn (according to Wellness Mama):
- You need to buy plain, 100% organic corn kernels (at your local natural foods store);
- Fry it with a healthy vegetable oil (coconut oil or organic butter will do as well) – 3 tablespoons per serving;
- Pour oil a heavy stainless frying pan;
- Put 2 corn kernels in the pan and wait until one of them pops;
- Then pour about 1/3 cup of popcorn in the pan;
- Then cover it;
- While it pops, shake the pan to let the steam escape and prevent burnt popcorn;
- You can sprinkle popcorn with sea salt or any other natural spices.
This is a simple and healthy popcorn recipe that can fully exchange the expensive and unhealthy microwave popcorn from a supermarket.