By Sean Zucker –
There are few things better than grabbing a large bucket of popcorn on your way into the movie theater. Okay, true, it’ll likely be some time before we’re comfortable going into a crowded movie theater thanks to the ultimate film critic COVID-19. But we can still enjoy the classic snack while streaming Netflix from the couch. Better yet, this surprisingly bodes well for our overall health and wellbeing. Experts agree popcorn is more than a movie theater staple, it’s packed with a wide range of nutritious benefits.
Popcorn is a whole grain snack and loaded with fiber. The USDA, in fact, notes that one serving of popcorn has 3.6 grams of dietary fiber, which is nearly 20 percent of the daily recommended amount. It contains vitamins B6, A, E and K with about 8 percent of the daily value of iron. Not enough? There are also lesser amounts of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc in those popped kernels. The department even notes that as popcorn is 100 percent unprocessed grain, one serving can provide upwards of 70 percent of the recommended daily intake of whole grain.
Beyond just whole grain and fiber, a 2009 American Chemical Society (ACS) study found that popcorn can be incredibly rich in antioxidants, specifically the healthy substances called polyphenols. Polyphenols are largely responsible for many of the health gains fruits and vegetables deliver, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
So should we go ahead and rewrite the old advice to a bag of popcorn a day keeps the doctor away? Honestly, maybe. A few years after its initial findings, the ACS again looked at popcorn and its levels of antioxidants. It not only confirmed that popcorn contain polyphenols, the ACS discovered that it may actually possess more of it than fruits and vegetables.
Joe Vinson, Ph.D., one of the lead researchers on the project, also highlighted that the least enjoyable aspect of eating popcorn is actually the most beneficial. The new research discovered that the hulls of the popcorn, the part famous for annoyingly and frequently getting caught in your teeth, carries much of the food’s nutritional value.
“Those hulls deserve more respect,” Vinson declared. “They are nutritional gold nuggets.”
The catch? It’s small but crucial. Medical News Today warns to reap the most benefits out your popcorn and avoid the hazards, limit or entirely axe the added butter and salt. The pair of additives carry a litany of health risks including raising blood pressure and cholesterol levels, weight gain, heart disease and stroke.
So maybe we’re not heading back to theaters anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean we can’t treat ourselves to that high-value and traditional movie snack while binging whatever the almighty Netflix algorithm throws our way. In fact, it would be a very good idea.