Is Popcorn a Healthy Snack?

Popcorn is one snack people love to take while watching movies in theaters. Many people take this crunchy snack, but have failed to ask this important question ” is popcorn a healthy snack”?.  Popcorn is only healthy depending on how it is prepared. Popcorn is usually made from a grain of corn but some strains called flint corn are specially cultivated as popping corns.

Popcorn was discovered accidentally by a farmer Gonzalo Quádre who left some corn over the heat to dry. Quádre had surplus corn that he decided to dry up some to feed the chickens on his farm. On a summer day, while he was feeding the chickens, he heard a popping sound. As frightened as he was about the sudden noise, he looked down to see a white piece of fluff. Wikipedia.com

What Happens when Corn is Heated. 

Popcorn is made with a type of corn that has a strong, hard hull or shell. Inside the shell is a starchy endosphere with 14% -15% moisture which later turn to steem when the kernel is heated. The pressure inside the hull continues building till it exceeds the hull’s ability to contain it. The kernel ruptures and explodes, allowing the contents to expand, cool, and finally set in a popcorn puff 20 to 50 times the size of the original kernel.

Popcorn in its natural state  has so many health benefits. However when salt, butter, caramel or other toppings are added to popcorn,  it then moves from the realm of healthy to unhealthy junk food. Basically, popcorn is as healthy as what you add to it. Avoid cooking with vegetable oil or olive oil as these can oxidize and damage the delicate polyphenol antioxidants. Oil can added after popping the corn.

Health  benefits of popcorn

Popcorn is relatively high in fiber and has a good glycemic index (GI) of 55. Popcorn contains polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) , potassium, manganese, magnesium, zinc and copper. Some of the health benefits derived as a result of these nutritional content of popcorn  include

Regulated blood sugar

Popcorn is a good snack for diabetics because it helps to control the blood glucose level.  The fibre content of popcorn regulates the release and management of blood sugar and insulin levels.

Improves digestion

Popcorn has high fibre content, providing roughages the body needs for proper digestion and elimination of waste. The roughages stimulates the intestinal muscles and digestive juices, which keeps everything moving through on a regular basis. By so doing, Pop corn helps to improve colon health. The less time food remains in one’s  colon, the better. When food sticks around in your digestive tract for too long, constipation and other problems can occur.

Weight loss

Popcorn can be used as a weight loss tool because it controls appetite and delay hunger.  The fiber content in popcorn makes you feel full, and inhibits the release of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This can prevent overeating and keep people who are battling the bulge happy and thin, without making them feel like they aren’t eating enough.

Reduced cholesterol levels

Excess cholesterol in the blood vessels and artery walls  is cast off by fibre in popcorn. This helps to lower the cholesterol levels in the body thereby reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis.

Cancer prevention

The polyphenolic compounds found in the hull of popcorn has antioxidant properties.  The antioxidants mop up free radicals likely to cause cancer in the body. Researchers at the University of Scranton, PA, recently reported that popcorn contains up to 300 mg polyphenols per serving which is more than 60 percent of the polyphenols provided by fruits and vegetables in the average American diet.

Popcorn also provides antioxidants, which in turn stave off undesirable features of premature aging such as muscle weakness, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

PLEASE NOTE : It is advisable to avoid pre-packaged microwave popcorn, as it usually has butter and salt already included, and the packaging has been under some speculation. Teflon-like coating of some bags used for microwave popcorn can get broken down with heat into unwanted substances, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

The chemical, which appears to be potentially carcinogenic in lab animals, is partially released onto the popcorn when the bag is heated up and can then be absorbed, once again in partial amounts, into the blood stream. whfoods.com.

To get the benefit of popcorn, it should be popped with hot air with little or no additives or toppings.

 

Reference

1. https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2012/is-popcorn-a-healthy-snack-it-can-be/

2.https://www.google.com.ng/amp/s/www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/cereal/popcorn.html%3fisamp=1

3.http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/09/the-nutrients-most-likely-to-let-you-live-to-be-much-older-than-100.aspx

4. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=76

5. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn

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