Say Yes To Delightfully Healthy Popcorn

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I don’t know of too many people who wouldn’t enjoy relaxing and unwinding with a great movie and a big bowl of light crispy popcorn in their lap. But a lot of people think that if they’re trying to lose weight (or just eat healthy overall) that they can’t love their popcorn and eat it too. Believe it or not, popcorn can be prepared in a way that it provides nutrition, as well as enjoyment – minus all the fat and calories.

According to new findings out of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, popcorn provides more antioxidants than a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. Add that to the fact that popcorn is full of fiber and it’s easy to see how, prepared correctly, popcorn can be an awesome snack.

“Based on fiber, whole grains, and antioxidant levels, popcorn is the king of snack foods,”
~ Dr. and Professor Joe Vinson

Polyphenols, the antioxidants found within popcorn and some fruits and veggies, are thought to reduce the risk of some types of cancers and heart disease. Joe Vinson and a chemistry student by the name of Michael Coco, Jr found that the popcorn they tested had anywhere from 242-363 milligrams of polyphenols. A lot of fruits only have about 160 mg.

Popcorn is also bursting with fiber, normally at around 5 grams if you fix a 4-cup portion of it.

Of course, no one is suggesting that you replace your fresh fruits and veggies with popcorn every day. But it’s good to know just how good popcorn can be for you and that you don’t have to deny yourself some light, fluffy, flavorful popcorn when you sit down for a movie. Just don’t outweigh the benefits of popcorn with fat and calories by loading it up with butter, salt and oil. Yes, that means movie theater popcorn.

Say No to Movie Theater Popcorn

Movie theater popcorn is some scary stuff. If you eat a bucket of popcorn, you chomp your way through 1,200 calories and guess how much saturated fat? Three times as the max amount you should have per day: 60 grams. Here’s something for you to think about… If you eat a tub of popcorn from Regal theaters, you may as well have just ate three – yes, THREE Quarter Pounders from McDonalds… and that is WITHOUT factoring in butter, grease and all that extra garbage. (Read more in this Los Angeles Times article)

Popcorn VS Chips

So how does popcorn line up against snack mixes and chips? If you fix your popcorn correctly, you’ll only be looking at about 30 calories for each cup of popcorn. Chips on the other hand weigh in at a whopping 150 calories for the same amount. Those snack mixes that have become so popular on the chips aisle? You’re looking at an average of 220 calories per cup.

Avoiding Potential Microwave Popcorn Dangers

Microwave popcorn is the easiest to prepare, but there are quite a few things to consider before throwing in a bag of store-bought, pre-packaged bags that are ready to toss in the microwave. There are ingredients found in artificial butter flavoring that have been shown to possibly cause lung cancer when inhaled in mass (think of those who work in the factories that manufacture the popcorn). Sure, you probably aren’t inhaling it that much, but it’s still something to think about.

Many microwavable bags have a coating on them that contain PFCs (perfluorinated compounds). These chemicals are dangerous too, as they’ve known to cause cancer in animals and to interfere with the immune system in children.

Create Your Own Microwavable Bag

To avoid the potential problems above, all you need are some popcorn kernels and a paper lunch bag. Toss in a few tablespoons of kernels, fold the top over a couple times and put it in the microwave until the popping slows down just like you would with a bag of popcorn out of the box you bought at the store. Of course, if you aren’t into creating your own poppable bag, there are a few select companies that offer store-bought ready to microwave popcorn that don’t use the compounds and ingredients we talked about above. One off the top of my head is Quinn.

Adding Some Flavor to Your Popcorn

Not a fan of plain popcorn? Once the popcorn is done, put a very light coating of olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper and grated parmesan cheese and shake it up. If you like spice, you can throw in some chili powder or cayenne with a pinch of sea salt. If you are more of a sweets person, you can use a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon.

 

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