Popcorn just got a boost to its already good reputation as a healthy snack food and is higher in antioxidants than fruits and vegetables, say scientists. The researchers report that popcorn contains more of the healthful antioxidant substances called “polyphenols” than fruits and vegetables.
The report was given at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Joe Vinson, Ph.D., explained that the polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn, which averages only about four percent water, while polyphenols are diluted in the 90 percent water that makes up many fruits and vegetables.
The researchers also learned that the hulls of the popcorn –– you know, the part that gets stuck in your teeth –– actually has the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber.
“Those hulls deserve more respect. They are nutritional gold nuggets,” said Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. “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.”
Of course, slathering your popcorn in butter, salt, or caramel changes everything. Movie theater popcorn with fake butter, kettle corn, and other added ingredients can be loaded with fat and extra calories.
“Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories, of course,” Vinson said. “Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, and if you pop your own with oil, this has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself.”
Vinson was clear in stating that popcorn cannot replace fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain vitamins and other nutrients that are important to health, but are absent from popcorn.
Good news for us long-time popcorn lovers!
Source: American Chemical Society