Saturday, June 23, 2012

POPCORN: Even Better Than We Realized!

Researchers analyzed four commercial brands of popcorn, two air-popped & two microwavable, using a new method that stimulates part of the digestion process to extract and measure the popcorn's polyphenols.  Like antioxidants, polyphenols are thought to protect cells against damage from environmental exposures and wears & tears, thus helping prevent cancer & other diseases.  Findings: Per serving (about 2 Table's of unpopped kernels or about 3-5 cups popped), popcorn provided about 300mg of polyphenols, depending on the brand-nearly double the the amount in a typical serving of many fruits & vegetables.  Another surprise: The Hull (shell) of the popcorn kernel-annoying part that gets stuck in your teeth (causing your to floss!)-actually had the highest polyphenol concentration.  In fact, about 90% of the polyphenols come from the hull!
Nutritional gold : Popcorn also packed w/ cholesterol-lowering, appetite-appeasing fiber.  Unlike many other grain products, which are processed & diluted w/ other ingredients, popcorn is a minimally processed whole grain.  Just one serving of popcorn provides more than 70% of a person's recommended daily intake of whole grains.

Caveats: Popcorn's health benefits can vastly reduced by unhealthful preparation or serving methods, such as cooking in alot of oil, pouring on the salt or drenching it in butter (or even worse, the fake butter used in the movie theater popcorn).  To get the greatest nutritional bang from your popcorn, stick w/ air- popped... for extra flavor, sprinkle on some spices or stir in some nuts!

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