Popcorn is one of the world’s healthiest and most popular snack foods.It is loaded with important nutrients and offers a variety of health benefits.
However, it is sometimes prepared with large amounts of fat, sugar and salt, which can drive overeating.
For this reason, it is very important to prepare your popcorn the right way.
It can be either super healthy or very unhealthy, depending on how you prepare it.
What is Popcorn?
Popcorn is a special type of corn that “pops” when exposed to heat.
At the center of each kernel is a small amount of water, which expands when heated and eventually causes the kernel to explode.
The oldest piece of popcorn was discovered in New Mexico and is said to be over 5,000 years old.
Over the years, it has become increasingly popular. It became especially popular during the Great Depression because it was so cheap.
Popcorn Nutrition Facts.
Many people don’t realize it, but popcorn is a whole grain food, making it naturally high in several important nutrients.
Many studies link whole grain consumption to health benefits like reduced inflammation and a decreased risk of heart disease.
This is the nutrient content of a 100-gram (3.5-oz) serving of air-popped popcorn :
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 7% of the RDI.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 12% of the RDI.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 8% of the RDI.
Iron: 18% of the RDI.
Magnesium: 36% of the RDI.
Phosphorus: 36% of the RDI.
Potassium: 9% of the RDI.
Zinc: 21% of the RDI.
Copper: 13% of the RDI.
Manganese: 56% of the RDI.
This is coming with a total of 387 calories, 13 grams of protein, 78 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fat.
This serving also contains a whopping 15 grams of fiber, which is extremely high. It makes it one of the world’s best sources of fiber.
It is High in Polyphenol Antioxidants.
Polyphenols are antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage by free radicals.
A study done at the University of Scranton showed that popcorn contains very large amounts of polyphenols.
Polyphenol are linked to various health benefits. This includes better blood circulation, improved digestive health and a reduced risk of many diseases.
Several studies have also shown that polyphenols may reduce the risk of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer.
Extremely High in Fiber.
Popcorn is very high in fiber.According to research, dietary fiber may reduce the risk of many diseases like heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes .
Fiber can also help with weight loss and promote digestive health. The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. However, most people are eating much less than that.
100 grams (3.5 ounces) of popcorn contain 15 grams of fiber, which goes a long way towards satisfying your daily fiber requirements.
Eating It May Help With Weight Loss.
Popcorn is high in fiber, relatively low in calories and has a low energy density. These are all characteristics of a weight loss friendly food.
With 31 calories per cup, air-popped popcorn contains much fewer calories than many popular snack foods.
One study compared feelings of fullness after eating popcorn and potato chips. They found that 15 calories of popcorn were as filling as 150 calories of potato chips. Because of its low calorie content, low energy density, high fiber content and increased satiety, eating popcorn may help you eat fewer calories and lose weight.
However, moderation is key. Even though it is much more filling than many other snack foods, it can still be fattening if you eat too much of it.
Health Benefits of Popcorn.
Popcorn contains impressive amounts of fiber, antioxidants, polyphenolic compounds, manganese, vitamin B complex, magnesium and manganese. This nutrient offers numerous health benefits:
1. Supports digestive system.
Popcorn is a whole grain that contains germ, endosperm and bran. Similar to whole grain cereals, bread and rice, it also possess these three main parts. Being a natural whole grain, it comprises of fiber, Vitamin E, B complex vitamins and minerals. High content of fiber supports digestion by keeping the bowel movements regular, smooth and fast through digestive tract. It assists to prevent digestive conditions such as constipation. It also stimulates peristaltic motion of smooth intestinal muscles and promotes digestive juice secretion that maintains healthy digestive system.
2. Maintains healthy cholesterol.
Fiber is beneficial for the body and whole grains possess fiber that could eliminate excess cholesterol from the walls of blood vessels and arteries by lowering the overall level of cholesterol and also reducing the risk of harmful cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks, atherosclerosis and strokes. It decreases the strain on cardiac system and the heart does not have to work hard for moving blood through clogged vessels as well as arteries.
3. Level of Blood sugar.
Fiber has a good impact on blood sugar. When the body holds adequate amounts of fiber, it regulates release as well as manages blood sugar and the level of insulin more effectively than people with low fiber. The lower chances of blood sugar fluctuations are helpful for diabetic patients and popcorn is preferable for the people with this disease.
4. Prevent formation of cancerous cells.
The research that has been conducted recently resulted that popcorn contains ample amount of antioxidants. It is regarded to be unhealthy junk food but now it has been stated that the popcorn’s hull encloses high polyphenolic compounds which is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants eliminate and scavenge free radicals which are associated with various ailments in the body such as cancer. Free radicals are responsible for mutation of healthy DNA cells in cancerous cells. The consumption of popcorn helps to lower these risks.
5. Lower chances of premature aging.
Besides cancer, free radicals are associated with the age related symptoms such as age spots, wrinkles, blindness, macular degeneration, cognitive decline, muscle weakness, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, hair loss and others. As popcorn contains powerful antioxidants, it keeps one healthy as well as happy by counteracting the free radical effects.
6. Bone health.
Popcorn consists of adequate amount of manganese which is a great source of nutrition required to maintain and build healthy bones. It is a supplemental nutrient that supports the structure of bones in people with weak bones such as menopausal women. It also prevents the risk of arthritis, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
7. Anemia prevention.
The serving size of 28 grams of popcorn according to USDA offers 0.9 mg of iron. Though it has low content of iron, an adult men requires 8 mg of iron a day and an adult women requires 18 mg a day as women loses blood during menstruation. The surveys show that 10% of women have deficiency of iron. So incorporating popcorn in the diet provides adequate amount of iron in the body and prevents anemia.
8. Rich in antioxidants.
Popcorns are loaded with antioxidants such as polyphenols. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals that are responsible for severe diseases such as cancer. With balanced diet, popcorn promotes the intake of antioxidants to maintain healthy body. The presence of free radicals is associated with various health issues such as wrinkles, hair loss and aging.
Kayla McDonell (17-6-2017), “Popcorn Nutrition Facts: A Healthy, Low-Calorie Snack?”، www.healthline.com
“Popcorn Health Benefits”, www.healthbenefitstimes.com