Posted on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 at 7:00 am
People who want to stay healthy often seek out healthy snacks. It turns out that popcorn can be a healthy snack. It all depends on what kind of popcorn it is, and the quality of the ingredients that have been added to the popcorn.
First, the good news. Popcorn is naturally a whole grain. This means it provides the healthy benefits derived from the nutrients in every component of the whole grain. Popcorn contains about 4 grams of dietary fiber for every 4 cups of popped corn. Popcorn contains an antioxidant called polyphenols.
Popcorn, all by itself, is gluten-free. That’s great for people who have celiac disease, an allergy to wheat, rye and/or barley, or who have a gluten intolerance. It is also dairy free (if you don’t add butter or cheese to it). Popcorn does not naturally contain eggs, shellfish, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, or soybeans. It is naturally free of all of the eight most allergenic foods.
Now, the bad news. The more things you add to the popcorn, the more calories it contains. People who are trying to lose weight may be able to fit some popcorn into their diet – but will quickly go over their daily calories if they add a lot of extra things to the healthy popcorn.
Consumer Reports points out that a little bit of salt and oil in popcorn, or sugar in kettle corn, might not be so bad for your health. Be aware that popcorn becomes less healthy when you “load it up” with a lot of butter, extra salt, or cheese.
Make sure to check the nutrition label on the box of popcorn before you buy it. The front of the package might tell you the calorie count of one cup of popcorn. But, the nutrition facts label lists values for one ounce of popcorn – not one cup. That can make it difficult to compare one brand to another.
Check to see how many servings one bag of popcorn has inside it. In general, one bag does not equal one serving. People tend to eat the whole bag and consider that to be a healthy choice. In reality, they are probably eating more than one serving.
Bagged, pre-popped, flavored popcorn could have a wide variety of things added to it. Cheese, caramel, sugar, chocolate – and more. These additions add to the calorie count. Some bagged popcorn might contain artificial ingredients.
One way to keep popcorn a healthy snack is to make stovetop popcorn yourself. This lets you control the portion size, the amount of salt, and the type of oil that is used.