Looking for a fast, delicious way to incorporate more whole grains into your diet?
Popcorn is an easy and healthy snack food choice. It’s usually minimally-processed, and it’s an abundant source fiber, B vitamins and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc and phosphorous. And recent research reveals that the hull (the crunchy part) is rich in polyphenols — antioxidants that prevent damage to cells. And because popcorn is made up of about four percent water, the polyphenols are more concentrated than antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables, which can be made up of up to 90 percent water.
Of course, preparation is key. Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories, and microwave popcorn is high in fat. Every teaspoon of oil adds about 120 calories and 13 or 14 grams of fat. And a tablespoon of butter adds another 100 calories, and salt adds 2,400 mg of sodium. In other words, avoid movie theatre popcorn and stay away from most commercially prepared brands.
But you don’t have to settle for bland, tasteless popcorn to reap the healthy benefits! You can keep the fat and sodium to a minimum by sprinkling your own air-popped snack with a little chili powder, grated parmesan cheese, dried herbs, Old Bay seasoning, curry powder, cinnamon or whatever suits your mood. Alternatively, you can find hundreds of sweet, spicy or savory popcorn seasoning recipes online at places like Food.com, Taste of Home, Allrecipes, Pinterest and more.
Tip: Lightly mist your popcorn with purified water before adding dry flavorings… it helps the granules stick!