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Popcorn: The Movie Snack Reexamined

April 2, 2012

The following is an archived post

 

Researchers recently discovered that popcorn may be a new superfood.

 

According to findings reported by ScienceDaily, popcorn contains a large concentration of polyphenols—even more so than fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants are thought to reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease. The hulls of popcorn (the seed coverings that tend to get stuck in our teeth) have the highest concentration of these polyphenols, as well as high amounts of fiber. While popcorn could never replace fruits and vegetables, especially in regard to other important nutrients, this certainly supports promoting popcorn as a healthy snack.

 

At a National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Diego on March 25, Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who led the research, stated,  “Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100% unprocessed whole grain. All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, and although cereals are called “whole grain,” this simply means that over 51% of the weight of the product is whole grain. One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70% of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way.”

 

Of course, preparation plays a huge role in the healthfulness factor, as it does for many other foods. Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories; microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped; popping your own with oil also has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. BUT: about 43% of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to only 28% in self-popped popcorn.

 

So if you like to go the traditional route and enjoy popcorn at the movies, you are probably better off bringing your own than indulging in the highly processed popcorn usually loaded with additional salt, butter (or worse, fake butter!) and possibly more.

 

Try the recipe for the mix below to spice your own popcorn!

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • dash cayenne pepper

  • dash cinnamon

  • ~12 cups air-popped popcorn

  • cooking spray

Combine spices. Spread popcorn evenly in shallow pan; lightly coat with cooking spray; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over popcorn and toss to coat.

 

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