Over the last few weeks my OGT team and I have had the pleasure of creating a dessert table for two different parties, including the beautiful table pictured below from the Bright Night Event. The other celebration was the release party for my new book “One Good Life.” For both parties we decided to feature one of my favorite treats….POPCORN! My girls and I put our heads together and decided to create a “Popcorn Bar” complete with several different flavors, toppings, and mix-ins!
Admittedly this wasn’t the healthiest presentation of this otherwise healthy snack…but it got me thinking about how versatile this snack is and just how healthy it can be!
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Here are some of the surprising health benefits of this delicious snack:
It’s a healthy 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.
It’s packed with protein.
Ounce for ounce, popcorn has more protein and phosphorus than potato chips. (And more iron than eggs and spinach!)
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.
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. Click here for Popcorn-Crusted Chicken Strips recipe.
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.
It’s a dieter’s dream.
It’s 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/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.
It’s never boring.
Popcorn is an incredibly versatile snack. Eat it plain, lightly buttered, spicy, or slightly sweet. It’s all delicious.
At just .19 cents an ounce, popcorn is one of the least expensive snack foods on the market today.
On the down side, movie theater popcorn (and, OK, popcorn bars too!) remain a high-calorie choice. Just remember to keep the toppings light to enjoy all the benefits this naturally healthy snack has to offer!