Why You Should Think of Popcorn as a Healthy Food

You may think of popcorn as little more than a tasty and inexpensive snack, but it actually offers some impressive health benefits. If prepared healthfully, popcorn is a low-calorie and low-sodium plant-based food that counts as a whole grain! Tweet this

Popcorn's Health Profile

Popcorn comes from the kernel of specific types of corn that are cultivated to pop consistently when heated. Two cups of air-popped popcorn provide approximately 60 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of fat and 1 milligram of sodium. This makes it a great replacement for higher calorie evening snacks. Also, the fiber content helps you feel full without a lot of calories. The antioxidant content of popcorn comes mostly from the polyphenols found in the hull. And, believe it or not, popcorn is comparable to fruits and vegetables for antioxidant content.

Try New Popcorn Flavor Combinations

Be mindful of how popcorn is prepared! Some preparations can add unhealthy doses of sodium, unhealthy fats and sugar. Instead, one of the healthiest and easiest ways to make popcorn is at home using an air-popper. Or, if you don't have an air-popper, pop the kernels in a covered microwave-safe container or in a covered pot on the stove using a high-heat oil such as canola oil. Use caution if you're popping on the stovetop, as this method involves hot oil.

Once you've popped it, let your imagination run wild for flavors. Try some of these toppings.

  • Use melted coconut oil in place of butter.
  • Try out-of-the-ordinary flavorings such as cinnamon, Parmesan cheese, cocoa powder or rosemary.
  • Add a different texture with warmed honey or melted dark chocolate.
  • Make an on-the-go trail mix by combining popcorn, dried fruit, seeds, nuts and small pieces of dark chocolate.

Go ahead and pop without guilt.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith, RDN, studied nutrition at San Diego State University. Read her blog, California Coastal Nutrition, and follow her on Facebook.


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