New Study: Popcorn Is a High-Antioxidant Health Food (Sometimes)
What would a great movie be without a fluffy bowl of popcorn to accompany it? Researchers have found that those who want to pursue a healthy lifestyle need not give up their beloved snack over concerns that it may have an adverse effect on health, if it is prepared in the right manner.
Scientists at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania have found that popcorn contains high amounts of a category of antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are compounds that prevent cell damage and fight heart disease and some cancers. Most of these polyphenols are present in the hulls rather than the white fluffy part. This antioxidant nutritional benefit is in addition to its considerable fiber content of 5 grams per 4-cup portion. WebMD reports that based on popcorn’s wining combination of antioxidants and whole grain fiber, senior author, Joe Vinson, has dubbed it, “the king of snack foods.” Also, it contains protein and magnesium, an underconsumed mineral that is valuable in vascular health.
The authors analyzed four brands of popcorn and found the antioxidants per serving varied from 242 to 363 milligrams (mg). Surprisingly, this is greater than the quantity contained in one serving of many kinds of fruits, which is approximately 160 mg. However, Vinson is not suggesting people substitute this snack for fruit and vegetables because produce has many vitamins and minerals not present in popcorn. Furthermore, it has not been determined how much of these antioxidants in this snack are actually absorbed by the body.
Popcorn does not compare favorably to nutrition-dense fruits and vegetables. Conversely, when comparing it to nutrition-devoid foods, such as chips, pretzels and crackers, it comes out way on top.
Nutrition experts are recommending that people prepare popcorn by the air-popped method and avoid unhealthful add-ons, such as salt and artery-clogging fats. Movie theater popcorn is the worst offender in regard to add-ons, with a medium tub containing a whopping 1,200 calories, as well as 60 grams of saturated fat, Today Health notes.
Although microwave popcorn is convenient, it has some distressing drawbacks. Compounds used in artificial butter flavoring can lead to lung disease when inhaled in large amounts. Additionally, most microwave bags are made with chemicals that research has found to suppress immunity in children and lead to cancer in animals. Those who want to stick with microwave popcorn can look for healthy, natural brands that do not use diacetyl and related compounds in flavoring, along with bags that are not coated with PFCs (perfluorinated compounds).
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.
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Article updated on: March 28th, 2012