Popcorn has earned a reputation of being unhealthy in the minds of some people, but this popular treat may have health value after all. Here’s what you need to know.
One food that seems to cause confusion in people’s mind is popcorn. Mention of this popular snack food conjures up the image of a gigantic cup of movie theater popcorn soaked in artificial butter and swimming in trans fat. Is it any wonder that popcorn is considered to be an unhealthy treat? On the other hand, popcorn is by definition a whole grain which brings up the question. Is popcorn good for you?
As previously mentioned, a little known fact about popcorn is that it is actually a whole grain food and a source of fiber. In fact, there is a gram of fiber in every cup of popped popcorn. Add to that the fact that that cup of popped popcorn has only thirty calories. Of course, this assumes that the popcorn was air popped without oil, butter, or margarine. A cup of air popped, low calorie popcorn can be a satisfying, low fat snack to munch n while watching television. You can’t even discredit popcorn in the salt department. There’s only about a milligram of sodium in one cup of popped corn. This assumes that you’re not dousing it in salt after it’s prepared. Would it surprise you to learn that popcorn has more protein than in other cereal grain? Popcorn when it’s prepared the right way can be a healthy, high protein snack.
The downside to popcorn is that most people don’t eat popcorn plain, without salt and butter. Instead, they douse it in the yellow stuff and aggressively flavor it with salt. The calories and sodium content can quickly accumulate, turning this healthy snack into a high fat, high sodium disaster. They may also take the approach of eating their popcorn “Cracker Jack” style , coated in a caramel shell which turns a sugar-free snack into one that’s loaded with sugar. Another health risk of popcorn is that the small unpopped kernels that inevitably end up in the bottom of the bag are risky for small children to eat. Experts advise not giving popcorn to babies or toddlers.
So, is popcorn good for you and should you serve it as a snack to your family? If you can pop your corn using an air popper, this whole grain snack can provide a variety of health benefits including better digestive function due to its fiber content while adding minimal fat or calories. Instead of dousing your popcorn in butter, try spraying it with a fat-free spray margarine product that’s free of trans fats. This will eliminate that pool of butter found in the bottom of most popcorn bowls that make it unhealthy. Instead of going heavy on the salt, season popcorn with a touch of garlic or low-fat powdered parmesan cheese. This is a healthy way to add satisfying flavor to popcorn. Be mindful of how much you’re eating of this whole grain treat. Even though it’s low in calories, if you eat ten cups, it loses some of its calorie advantage.
All in all, whether popcorn is good for you is determined by how you prepare it. Prepare it “healthy style” and it’s a guilt free snack you can enjoy and serve to your family.