As it turns out, popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can eat (far healthier than the much touted edamame) 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. Popcorn makers are ok too, but in my experience, the stove is just as fast and easy with less cleanup. 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.
After popping, sprinkle with a good quality sea salt to complete your delicious and healthful snack. Some folks I know sprinkle with nutritional yeast powder for a nice boost of B vitamins.
Even though homemade popcorn is a fantastic and healthy snack choice, don’t overdo. Corn that is not soaked or sprouted prior to cooking contains anti-nutrients that can inflame digestion if consumed to excess.
By the way, if someone in your family is allergic to corn, try popped sorghum. It looks and tastes the same, just smaller kernels.
How to Make Stovetop Popcorn (Video)
Below is a video I filmed for the Weston A. Price Foundation on Healthy Snacks. Click here for a transcript if you don’t prefer videos. The video includes a segment on making healthy popcorn. This visual can be helpful if you’ve never made it on the stovetop before. This is the healthiest way to enjoy it!
Organic, preferably heirloom corn kernels popped on the stovetop is a great snack to pack in your children’s lunchboxes. It is very affordable and you can feel good about making it!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Source: Study: The Snack Loaded with Antioxidants
The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, and many others.