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Popcorn antioxidant levels surprise researchers

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Popcorn is the perfect whole grain food, packed with antioxidants.

Popcorn is packed with antioxidants that rival fruits and vegetables. A finding from researchers, which came as a surprise, is that the hulls of popcorn have the highest polyphenol and fiber levels.

The report was presented at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Popcorn hulls packed with nutrition

Joe Vinson, who studies healthy components in foods like chocolate, nuts and other popular foods, said in a press release that popcorn hulls are “…are nutritional gold nuggets” and deserve more respect that they normally get from sticking between your teeth.

Vinson points out popcorn is a perfectly healthy food because it’s whole grain and not processed. One serving provides 70 percent of daily whole grain intake.

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Also, it’s not diluted like whole grain cereals that are labeled such but only have 51% of whole grains, combined with other ingredients.

If you’re wondering how to prepare it, Vinson says, go for air popped. Cooking it in oil on the stove is twice as fattening as air popped. He cautions microwave is the worse, because it’s 43% fat. If you choose to pop it in oil, you’ll only get 28% fat.

But don’t skimp on the fruits and veggies in lieu of popcorn, which is lacking in vitamins and other nutrients essential for good health.

The study is the first to measure polyphenols in popcorn that were thought to be much lower than they really are and 15 times higher than whole grain tortilla chips and much higher than sweet corn.

Eat your popcorn sans butter, ‘movie theater’ fake butter or sugar, and enjoy a healthy snack loaded with antioxidants. Compared to all fruits that have160 mg of polyphenols per serving, popcorn has up to 300 mg of a serving.

American Chemical Society
"Popcorn: The snack with even higher antioxidants levels than fruits and vegetables"
Mach 25, 2012

Updated 2/14/2017