Popcorn is a treat that many people have enjoyed for decades whilst watching their favourite film.
Even as the food guidelines continue to change, popcorn has remained a fun and tasty snack, but is popcorn a healthy snack? Whether you’re watching your weight, or have to eat for health reasons, you always want to know what you’re eating.
Let’s get the skinny on popcorn.
A Healthy Snack?
As a global population, we consume a HUGE amount of popcorn.
But is it good for us?
The short answer is, it depends. The healthiest version of popcorn is a batch that has been air-popped and left without additives, and in this form, according to the USDA Nutrient Database, every 100 gram/3.5 ounce serving contains 375 calories, 78 grams of carbs, 15 grams of dietary fibre, only 4 grams of fat, a whopping 12 grams of protein, large amounts of Vitamins A, B1, B2, E and K, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and 2.7 milligrams of iron, as well as potassium, zinc, and antioxidant containing polyphenols.
Popcorn really packs the punch in nutritional value when it is left alone. Additionally, popcorn’s glycemic index is a low 55, which means that it won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling full for much longer. Who would’ve thought that such a light and airy snack would be so great?
But That Butter Though…
Things begin to get a little more complicated once we start adding in flavours.
The most common way we enjoy our popcorn is with melted butter and salt, cooked in oil. Just the addition of these ingredients can negate any health benefits that come from eating popcorn, including added fat. Just eating a medium tub of popcorn from the local cinema can have up to 1200 calories and 62 grams of saturated fat.
As with many things, eat buttered, salty popcorn in moderation and in small quantities. Opt for the smaller tub, or share a tub with friends.
The Healthier Option
If you want to enjoy popcorn, but want to keep it on the healthy side of life, purchase whole grain corn kernels and enjoy it as it was intended with a home popcorn machine.
If you want to add flavour to your snack, opt for spices and flavourings low in sodium and sugar, and anything artificial.