Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks for a lot of reasons—it’s easy to make, inexpensive, delicious, and it can be dressed up for special occasions like parties. Popcorn is equally delicious paired with savory or sweet flavors, and there are infinite ways to jazz it up with seasonings and other ingredients.
While my beloved movie theater popcorn isn’t healthy by any stretch of the imagination, popcorn alone has all sorts of great health benefits. Here are 9 reasons to consider making plain (or at least lightly buttered/seasoned) popcorn your new snack of choice.
9 Surprising Benefits Of Eating Popcorn As A Snack
1. It’s A Whole Grain
Popcorn is a “whole grain,” which means it’s a good source of dietary fiber. In fact, a 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn contains 2 grams of dietary fiber. That’s approximately as much fiber as half of a cup of sliced carrots, 7 dried apricot halves or 1 whole, medium-sized peach.
2. It’s Nutritional
Ounce for ounce, popcorn has more protein and phosphorus than potato chips. (And more iron than eggs and spinach!)
3. It’s Rich In Antioxidants
A team of researchers from the University of Scranton found that popcorn’s crunchy hull is rich in polyphenols and ferulic acid — strong antioxidants responsible for protecting the body from various diseases and conditions. Popcorn actually contains more polyphenols than fruits and vegetables.
4. It’s Naturally Gluten Free
Finely ground, it can be used in place of breadcrumbs for a great crunchy coating on chicken and fish, or seasoned like croutons and topped on a salad.
5. It’s Brain Food
According to researchers at Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, nibbling on popcorn revs the brain’s production of revitalizing beta waves, upping alertness by 25 percent in 5 minutes.
6. It’s Low In Calories
Popcorn is sugar free, fat free and low in calories. Just 31 calories for 1 cup air popped popcorn! Plus, “popped corn” is mostly air, helpful for satisfying hunger and cravings without damaging your diet. Fiber-rich popcorn also prevents appetite-fueling blood sugar fluxes, which could help you drop up to 2 pounds a month.
7. It’s Versatile
Popcorn is an incredibly versatile snack. Eat it plain, lightly buttered, spicy, or slightly sweet. It’s all delicious.
8. It’s Inexpensive
At just 19 cents an ounce, popcorn is one of the least expensive snack foods on the market today.
9. It’s Good For Your Heart
Eating a fiber-rich diet has been found to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. As I mentioned earlier, popcorn is packed with fiber, making it an ideal snack for getting your recommended amount of daily fiber.
Unfortunately, movie theater popcorn is loaded with butter, oils, and salt that all but cancel out these benefits. But as long as you use a light hand with you, you can enjoy all the benefits this naturally healthy snack has to offer.
What’s your favorite way to make or eat popcorn?