You don’t have to feel guilty about popping a few kernels anymore—as long as it’s the right kind—because researchers have found that popcorn is actually a surprisingly healthy snack.
A new study conducted at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, showed popcorn actually has more antioxidants in it than fruit or vegetables, and the annoying husks that you can never get out of your teeth also contain super high concentrations of antioxidants and fiber—nutrients your body definitely needs.
“Those hulls deserve more respect,” Joe Vinson, one of the researchers, told Science Daily. “They are nutritional gold nuggets.” According to him, popcorn may be the perfect snack food.
“It’s the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain. All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, and although cereals are called ‘whole grain,’ this simply means that over 51 percent of the weight of the product is whole grain,” he said. “One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way.”
Obviously we’re not talking about movie theater popcorn dripping in butter, salt, and fat. If you want to reap the benefits of popcorn you’re going to have to pick the right kind, particularly air-popped kernels. Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, Vinson said, and popping with oil in a pan is a definite no-no.
Finding out that a serving of popcorn has 300 mgs of the antioxidant polyphenol while a typical daily intake of fruit and vegetables provides between 200-250 mgs might tempt you to sub the snack for leafy greens but popcorn doesn’t count toward a balanced diet. It’s best to treat it as a snack to tide you over to your next nutritious meal.
– Brande Victorian