As it turns out, popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can eat and polyphenols are the reason why.
Polyphenols are a type of chemical found in plant foods that help neutralize free radicals, those nasty little baddies that damage your cells and contribute to rapid aging.
Popcorn has one of the highest levels of polyphenols of any plant food – including most fruit!
According to Joe Vinson, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton:
“Popcorn has more antioxidants in total than other snack foods that you can consume and it also has quite a bit of fiber.”
While the fiber aspect of popcorn is not particularly impressive to me as fiber is not necessarily a good thing in large quantities (people just need so much of it as they are typically so constipated from their lousy diets), the polyphenol aspect of the research is indeed compelling and should encourage folks to fire up that popcorn maker more often.
Don’t Buy Microwave or Processed Popcorn
As with any food, preparation and sourcing is critical, so don’t run out to the supermarket and load up on microwave popcorn after reading this post. It also would be wise to avoid popcorn at the movies as the synthetic factory fats and processed salt used to flavor the popcorn is less than ideal and overrides any benefit of the popcorn itself!
One other type of popcorn to skip: popcorn in snackie bags specifically packaged for lunchboxes which are loaded with all manner of chemicals and synthetics for flavoring and coloring.
The healthiest popcorn is made yourself the old fashioned way: on the stovetop or with a popcorn maker. Popcorn is so cheap, most people will find that a nice big bag of organic kernels easily fits into even the tightest of food budgets.
The best oils to cook your popcorn in are ghee or expeller pressed coconut oil. Click here for sources I use and recommend.
After popping, sprinkle with a good quality sea salt and you will indeed have yourself a delicious and healthful snack. Some folks I know sprinkle popcorn with nutritional yeast for a nice boost of B vitamins.
Even though homemade popcorn is a fantastic and healthy snack choice, as with anything, don’t overdo. Corn that is not soaked or sprouted prior to cooking contains anti-nutrients that can inflame digestion if consumed to excess.
Below is a video I filmed for the Weston A. Price Foundation on Healthy Snacks (click here for a transcript if you don’t dig videos) which includes a segment on making a healthful bowl of popcorn if you would actually like to have a visual of how I make it with a simple frying pan on my stovetop.
With school starting up, what a great snack to pack in your children’s lunchboxes that is so easily affordable and you can feel good about!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Source: Study: Popcorn Loaded with Antioxidants