Do you crave a big bucket of popcorn when you go to the movies? How about at home when you fire up your DVD player to watch a late-night flick with your sweetie?
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 are 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 snack 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.
The best oils to cook your popcorn in include homemade ghee or a quality brand of expeller-pressed coconut oil.
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 it. 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!
Source: Study: The Snack Loaded with Antioxidants
Robina Seril Wolfe
Can i have a latest about health benefits..
Hi Sarah, I just wanted to thank you for your great video and the time it took for you to make it. Everything you talked about was very informative and I’ve bookmarked your video for my husband to watch so that we can both eat and enjoy popcorn in the very least harmful way. I was very surprised to hear about the health benefits of popcorn. Now hopefully we can replace some of those other very unhealthy snack foods that we eat and replace them with some of the ones you spoke of, especially ginger snaps. Thank you so much again! I would certainly enjoy watching more of your health videos.
I purchased non GMO kernels as my store does not carry organic. I figure since the kernels are protected by the husks, they are not exposed to any farming chemicals that are used so they are just as beneficial as organic.?
Sarah Pope MGA
Not a great idea unfortunately. Non-organic corn that is nonGMO is still highly sprayed with herbicides and pesticides. Roundup is sometimes used for desiccation right before harvest and this would be absorbed by the kernels.
I just saw that sprouted popping corn is available commercially. I am thinking I could use my regular sprouting process. The question I have is what do I do to the sprouted kernels to prepare them for popping? What about storage? I would love your input.
I haven’t done this before myself, so would have to do some experimenting first before responding.
As well as being a great diet food, popcorn also contains a high level of antioxidants, which help fight harmful molecules. Thanks for telling its benefits. It is really a healthy snack. Your information really mean Alot.
Is there any chance the allergies are related to the way the corn is either produced, harvested, stored or transported? I’ve read wheat is causing more e allergies lately because of the way they haven’t it. Also, it’s strange when you develop allergies or intolerance over time, as some of the comments mentioned.
Hello! I had the exact same problem. Turns out I have Crohn’s. Crohn’s – Or any other IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) doesn’t go well with Popcorn, it causes more inflammation. Now, this doesn’t mean she has it, but I would advise checking up on it just in case, especially if it’s gotten worse over time.
It’s crazy, but my youngest daughter cannot eat popcorn. She can eat sweetcorn, corn bread, corn chips, corn meal battered fried chicken, corn pudding… But no matter how you make popcorn, it makes her ill. We buy gmo free organic popcorn, cook it in organic coconut oil, use organic grass fed browned butter and Himalayan sea salt, and she STILL eats a handful and then regrets it all night long. Thing is…when she was young, this did not happen…she could eat a whole bag of movie popcorn by herself. The movie popcorn was the first to start disagreeing with her…she started wanting less of it, then none at all. Then we started making our popcorn at home instead and at first that was okay, but…every time she eats popcorn she can tolerate less and less of it. Corn in any other form is fine. Coconut oil, butter, and salt are fine in any other form…put them together and she simply cannot digest it on popped corn. Which is a shame…because she loves it.
That is very strange! Maybe you could try sorghum popcorn. It tastes the same as regular popcorn, but sorghum is smaller kernels than corn.
Is a bagged popcorn like Nearly Naked GMO free popcorn made only with organic corn, coconut oil and sea salt ok? And, do you recommend this snack while on the GAPS diet? Corn is not legal but is this a “safe cheat” as far as “cheats” go? My husband loves popcorn and I’m trying to figure out how important this is for the GAPS diet. Thank you!