Who doesn’t love popcorn?
I was practically weaned on it. We grew up having it every single night after dinner, and it’s still my dad’s favorite nighttime snack.
Modern-day microwave popcorn and movie theatre popcorn, however, pose major health threats. While microwave popcorn is convenient, it’s loaded with chemicals that can wreak havoc on the gut and immune system.
Movie popcorn, as well as popcorn at the fair, so to speak, are predominately cooked in hydrogenated oils. Combine that with the fact that the popcorn itself has possibly been genetically modified (and heavily treated with pesticides) and that can really take a toll on our bodies, especially if eating on a regular basis.
However, there’s fantastic news.
Popcorn is rich in vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and several antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for skin and eye health. It’s also naturally gluten free and a whole grain, which makes it a good source of fiber.
When prepared properly, the answer is yes, popcorn is a healthy snack!
Pro tips and flavor hacks to make popcorn a healthful snack:
- Organic, always!
Thankfully, most brands of popcorn kernels sold in the groceries as well as from family farms are grown with non-GMO seed. Be sure to read labels.
- Yes, popcorn is a whole grain
Three cups of popped popcorn is the equivalent of one ounce of whole grains.
- Cooking method counts
Air pop it or cook on the stovetop in either unrefined coconut oil or avocado oil. Both have a high smoke point and our bodies know better how to use these saturated fats. They also come with the benefits of being anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.
- Pour on the melted butter!
Yep, grass-fed butter! It will actually help your body properly absorb vitamins and nutrients in the popcorn. The saturated fat will help offset any phytic acid, a natural substance found on nuts and plants that can have anti-nutrient properties.
- Add nutrient-dense toppings
Some favorites include truffle oil and cilantro, lime zest, and sesame seeds (I’ve converted several picky eaters on this one in particular).
- Cheat the cheese!
For a cheesy popcorn taste, toss with nutritional yeast, an excellent source of B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is a dry yeast that grows on sugar cane and molasses. It’s naturally gluten free, a complete source of protein and contains chromium, which is excellent in controlling blood sugar levels.
For popcorn nutrition facts, see popcorn.org