Why Popcorn Is A Good Snack Choice

Why Popcorn Is A Good Snack Choice

Healthy snacks are everywhere you turn these days yet many are a grand attempt at packing in so many ingredients it can sometimes feel like you’re chewing on an expensive block of wood. Add in the immense amount of processing that goes into these protein and power bars and you may need to think twice about your snack selection.

Popcorn on the other hand is cheap, easy to make and recommended by dietitians, doctors and weight loss plans. The next time you have a party or need to fill a hankering for a satisfying snack, reach for some naturally prepared popcorn for these surprising health benefits.

Keep it Whole 

Whole grains that is. You hear it all the time but you may never really know where a whole grain source is. Sounds like something you’d only find on a farm, in a burlap sack, yet it turns out whole grains are everywhere, like breads, crackers, cereals, rices and many others. They can aid your body in maintaining proper blood glucose levels, reducing inflammation and possibly enjoy a lower mortality rate (you may just live longer than your non-whole grain eaters) according to a study by Harvard School of Public Health. It turns out, however, that a lot of whole grains are “stepped on” with additives that aren’t so healthy. However, clean popcorn could make a difference.

The San Francisco Gate (SFG) reported that,

“A survey conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that popcorn eaters consumed an average of 250 percent more whole grains than non-popcorn eaters.”

Sorry, No Butter

Sure, you may think of popcorn as your movie theatre snack slathered in artery clogging butter and hypertension adding salt but there’s a better way. It may not sound like your idea of popcorn but when you try it and see the results it just may be worth it.

What it really comes down to is your taste buds and when you rid them of the heavy coating of trans-fat oils, processed sugars and desensitizing salts a whole new world of clean eating begins. Start with popcorn and then pass on your clean eating popcorn habit to other foods that could be unnecessarily floating in chemically laden, systemic threatening sludge.

At home try air popped popcorn tossed with a spritz of olive oil, parmesan cheese and just a ‘smidge’ of garlic powder. Tip: For you neat freaks, eating popcorn with healthy toppings such as these can be messy so some recommend using a spoon.

At the theatre, ask for no butter or salt. Add a large water instead of a synthetic soda with maybe a lemon wedge, if you can bring it from home, and that bloated, blah feeling you get after eating a trough of conventional movie popcorn will be a thing of the past.

It’s All in the Hulls

When popcorn pops it basically explodes from the heat and blasts out of its hull which is that powerful covering that can be your healthy friend.

The SFG also shows how whole grains come down to important nutrients found in the germ, bran and endosperm:

  • The germ contains healthy oils, vitamin E, protein, many B vitamins and minerals.
  • The bran houses most of the fiber found in whole grains, as well as B vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants.
  • The endosperm is primarily composed of starch with some protein and some fiber.

In addition to the nutrient breakdown, in a study by researchers from the University of Scranton the overall antioxidant polyphenol count also found in the hulls has been shown to be higher than fruits and vegetables. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, polyphenols may aid in the prevention of numerous diseases such as neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, diabetes, osteoporosis and even cancer.

Popcorn hulls also hold lots of fiber which can help sluggish digestion and, with its low calorie count could help with weight loss.

When popcorn is swimming in butter, oil and salt the body may have a more difficult time processing these healing hulls so eat it clean.

From the Brains

Popcorn research was presented at a 2012 meeting of the American Chemical Society (AMC). According to Dr. Joe Vinson at the University of Scranton, a trailblazer of investigating Big Food by scrutinizing healthy and not so healthy components of common snacks,

“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. 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.”

 

So give popcorn a try for your whole grain diet choice. Stay away from kettle corn which is just popcorn covered in sugar; microwave popcorn which often comes with added oils (however, if a “natural choice” is available, check the ingredients and it may be an okay alternative); or flavored popcorn which often includes preservatives, artificial flavoring, dyes and fats. Enjoy the clean, freshly popped crunch of the original taste of popcorn just like the Aztecs, one of the original popcorn eating cultures, intended.



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