Popcorn, when it’s not slathered in butter and coated in salt, is already known to be a healthy snack food and now a group of scientists say it may even top fruits and vegetables in antioxidant levels.
The researchers said they found great amounts of antioxidants known as polyphenols in popcorn and explained that the substances are more concentrated in the snack, which is made up of about four percent water, while the antioxidants are more diluted in fruits and vegetables, many of which are made of up 90 percent water.
That’s the same principle that gives dried fruits an antioxidant edge over their fresh counterparts.
One serving of popcorn has up to 300mg of polyphenols, which is much higher than previously believed and nearly double the 160mg for all fruits per serving, according to the researchers, who presented their findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego.
They also found that the crunchy hulls of the popcorn have the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber.
Popcorn is one of the healthiest foods anyone can eat. It has large amount of calories, protein, minerals and vitamins… and all-around food. For centuries corn has been basic in diets of many civilizations because it abundantly provides so many different nutrients. Today it still is among leading foods health-giving qualities. We all strive for a balanced diet of healthful foods, which taste good. There are few children or grown-ups who do not like the salty, tantalizing taste of hot, well-seasoned popcorn. Yet, of the millions who buy popcorn most do not know they are eating a highly nutritious food. Perhaps this has been a factor in popcorn’s tremendous popularity. Here is a sociable snack, which can be offered to old and young with complete assurance that it will supply the body with valuable nutrients and will in no way, harm the teeth.
• Of all the snacks a child can eat at school, popcorn is by far the healthiest. It builds bone, muscle, tissue, aids digestion, and is good for the teeth. Here’s why:
• Teeth are composed chiefly of calcium and phosphorous. Both are dissolved…that is, eaten away…by a certain kind of acid, which is formed in the mouth by the action of bacteria on sugar. Thus anything containing sugar produced this acid which attacks the immediately. ‘Acids causing Tooth decay form in the mouth from the use of sweetened foods, soft drinks, chewing gum, or other confections.
• Brushing teeth immediately after consuming sweets reduces the harmful effects, but how can children brush their teeth at school? Much better to offer them something that does not require brushing teeth after eating, something like fresh, hot popcorn not having the bad effects of candy and soft drinks. ‘Eat an adequate amount of the protective foods such as milk, fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat, whole grain cereals, and bread. If children are hungry between meals, they should have fruit juices, fresh fruits, unsweetened dried fruits, nuts, popcorn, whole grain cereals, milk, cheese, instead of candy, gum, pop, or other sweet food.’ In additional to this remember that popcorn contributes to good teeth is still another way. The calcium and phosphorous in popcorn supplies the human system with appreciable quantities of valuable minerals which build teeth
“Those hulls deserve more respect,” said researcher Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. “They are nutritional gold nuggets.”
The scientists warned, though, preparation is key to culling popcorn’s health benefits.
POPCORN IS FULL OF VITAMINS
The body does not manufacture vitamins for its own use. Therefore they must be furnished from outside sources. Popcorn is a good source. Three ounces of popcorn will furnish about one-fifth of the daily requirement of thiamine (Vitamin B1). Thiamine is needed to maintain good appetite and normal digestion and to keep the nervous system functioning normally. Popcorn also contributes to the body’s supply of riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and niacin (formerly called Nicotinic Acid). Riboflavin is necessary for the body’s cells. Niacin prevents pellagra and keeps the skin in good condition. In its supply of riboflavin and niacin, popcorn is ahead of beans, cabbage, oatmeal, and many other foods. Popcorn lacks Vitamin A and C (ascorbic acid). These are thought to be destroyed by the necessarily high popping heat, since sweet corn contains appreciable quantities of Vitamins A and C.
“Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories, of course,” Vinson guided.
“Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, and if you pop your own with oil, this has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself.”
Whole Grain Benefits
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans, half of the grains you consume daily, or at least 3 oz., should be in the form of whole grains for optimum health. Whole grains are rich in carbohydrates; popcorn provides 6 g per cup. Carbohydrates provide the body with energy. In fact, the nervous system can use only glucose, broken down from carbohydrates, as fuel. Some of the benefits of including whole grains in the diet are that they improve overall diet quality and are rich in many nutrients. Whole grains are less processed than refined grains. The whole corn kernel includes the endosperm, germ and the pericarp, or hull, versus a whole grain kernel, which contains the endosperm, germ and bran.
Popcorn, like any other whole grain, diminishes the risk of heart disease and diabetes.