Any time you sit down as a family to watch some Netflix and relax, chances are you start craving a bowl of popcorn. These days, Americans eat a whopping 14 billion quarts of popcorn every year!
The thing is, popcorn isn’t just for the movies. It’s also one of the best snacks out there. Once you discover the benefits, you may not want to eat another potato chip ever again.
Discover the Health Benefits of Popcorn
It’s surprising how healthful popcorn can be.
That’s right: Popcorn is a great source of antioxidants for health. Specifically, the crunchy white food is rich in polyphenols. These natural substances are important for protecting your heart, brain and digestive system:
Supporting heart health and lowering the risk of heart disease
Promoting the growth of good bacteria in your gut
Helping with blood sugar levels
Potentially reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancers
Lowering the risk of blood clots
When you think of whole grains, whole wheat and rolled oats probably come to mind. Popcorn is the black sheep of the whole-grain family, underappreciated but secretly incredible.
Eating more whole-grain foods can help with everything from weight loss to Type 2 diabetes. Popcorn is nutritious; it can naturally reduce bad cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
Many of the benefits of popcorn come from its huge fiber content. Fiber is fantastic for balancing blood sugar, promoting regularity and supporting your gut.
It takes longer to digest foods with fiber, such as popcorn, fresh fruit and veggies. This is much better than the crazy blood sugar spikes of sugary or greasy snack foods.
Vitamins and minerals
What popcorn lacks in quantity it makes up for in variety:
Vitamins B1, B3 and B6: About 10% of the recommended dietary intake
Magnesium: About 35% of the daily value
Manganese: About 55% of your daily needs
Zinc and iron: About 20% of the RDI
Phosphorus: About 35% of the RDI
Potassium: About 10% of your daily needs
You could say that popcorn is a jack of all trades.
Enjoy the Perfect Afternoon Snack
In addition to the healthy qualities of popcorn, there are benefits that make it a smart choice anytime you’re in the mood for a snack.
Low in calories: Air-popped popcorn is exceptionally low in calories, making it a great food when you’re trying to lose weight.
Cholesterol- and gluten-free: There’s no cholesterol or gluten in popcorn.
Satisfying: The size of 100 calories worth of popcorn (three cups) is much larger than 100 calories worth of crackers (five crackers).
Filling: Fiber-rich foods like popcorn keep you full longer, so you only need one afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner.
Simple: Unlike many snack products, popcorn only has one ingredient, plus whatever you put on it.
Make Your Own Popcorn
The best way to avoid calories is with an air popper and some simple popcorn kernels. That way, you don’t need any oil, and you can keep the salt to a minimum.
If you want to make stovetop popcorn instead, use canola, avocado or olive oil. Then, add your toppings, such as shredded cheese, basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar or chili powder.
Microwave popcorn is hit or miss. It tends to have salt, sugar, fat, preservatives and other ingredients you're better off avoiding.