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Next time you get a snack craving, pop some popcorn rather than reaching for chips or crackers. A new study has found that the popular snack is chock full of antioxidants, adding to the list of popcorn health benefits.
Researchers found that plain popcorn contains almost twice as many polyphenols when compared with the average piece of fruit. Polyphenols, classified as antioxidants, are defined as “a group of chemicals found in many fruits, vegetables and other plants, such as berries, walnuts, olives, tea leaves and grapes.” Studies have shown polypehnols contain a number of health benefits, including heart disease and cancer prevention. They may also help lower “bad” cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, in the body.
Researchers have found that this low-calorie snack contains beneficial antioxidants.
Photo by jayneandd/Courtesy Flickr
However, the white fluffy part of your popcorn isn’t the source of these polyphenols. Instead, the hull or outer skin of the corn kernel (the part you pick out of your teeth after chowing down) contains the most polyphenols. This is also the part of the popcorn that offers your body the most fiber.
Of course, you shouldn’t swap out popcorn for the apples and bananas in your daily diet. This study suggests that popcorn can serve as a healthy snack when accompanied by a well-balanced diet. Popcorn lovers be warned, however. Not all popcorn is created equal. A medium-sized order of movie theater popcorn (without butter!) contains a whopping 900 calories, which, even with the antioxidants and fiber, won’t exactly do the body good.
So, how to enjoy your popcorn without packing on the pounds? Researchers suggest popping plain kernels in a stove-top popper or air-popper.