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Is popcorn healthy? Why popcorn isn’t bad for your diet

Is popcorn healthy? Why popcorn isn’t bad for your dietFrancesco Carta fotografo / Moment / Getty Images

According to the Popcorn Board, we consume 16 billion quarts of popcorn every year. That’s a lot of popcorn leaving us asking if popcorn is even healthy or not? Well, the answer to this question is yes, depending on its preparation.

Popcorn gives your fill of whole grain.

Popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks in its most basic form. It is a natural whole grain and so air-popped, unsweetened, and unsalted, popcorn contains plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that the body needs. It also has more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables and may even help fight cancer. That said, added butter, sugar, and salt can of course make popcorn an unhealthy snack.

"When prepared well, popcorn actually is a pretty good snack," said Maya Vadiveloo, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Rhode Island. "It's stable. It's inexpensive. It's fairly tasty. For people who might be struggling to eat adequate fruits or vegetables or other whole grains, it's a low-risk snack to start.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend at least three servings of whole grain foods each day, and a serving of popcorn fulfills one of those.

Popcorn can be diabetic friendly.

Air-popped, unsweetened, unsalted popcorn contains around 78 percent carbohydrates and doesn’t have the same effect on blood sugar as refined carbs like white bread. This means it is healthy for people with diabetes to eat it in moderation.

Popcorn has more iron than spinach.

This might not seem like a big deal but almost 10 percent of women are iron deficient, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and snacking on popcorn can help boost your iron count.

Popcorn helps with constipation.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), since popcorn is all whole grain, its insoluble fiber helps keep your digestive tract in check and prevents constipation.

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While this is great news for popcorn lovers, it does not mean the popcorn you eat outside of your home is healthy. As stated above, popcorn may be the perfect snack food if prepared correctly. If it is cooked in a lot of oil, drowned in butter, and heavily salted, such as movie theater popcorn, it quickly becomes a nutritional nightmare.

Also worth noting: Microwave popcorn is roughly 43 percent fat while popcorn cooked in oil is about 28 percent fat.

 

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