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Popcorn is a staple in watching movies, whether in theaters or in the comfort of homes. With the recent study that was released about this popular snack, people might turn out to be more than just a snack. Such study focuses on the antioxidants found in these munchies as compared to vegetables and fruits.

A Study on Popcorn

Dr. Joe Vinson along with his colleagues from University of Scranton spearheaded such research by analyzing four kinds of popcorn. From these subjects, two were air-popped while the two other kinds were cooked in the microwave. The researches measured the amount of polyphenols in these popcorns.

Polyphenol is an antioxidant that has proven to reverse any damages that “free radicals” inflict the body.  Dr. Vinson has found out that popcorn can contain up to 300 milligrams of polyphenols. Such amount, though, can slightly vary on the kind and its method of preparation. For comparison, one serving of sweet corn contains 114 milligrams while one serving of fruit contain 160 milligrams of this powerful antioxidant.

Another advantage of popcorn over all the other sources of polyphenol is that it merely contains about 4 percent of water. Most vegetables and fruits, on the other hand has about 90 percent of water. This means that the polyphenols found in popcorn has not been diluted in water and potentially is more potent.

A Surprising Discovery

The study primarily geared to determine the amount of antioxidants found in popcorn. However, the researchers have surprisingly discovered that a huge portion of polyphenols were contained in that one part of the treat that many people hate the most – the hull.

Dr. Vinson has mentioned that popcorn is the perfect food for snacking. It is that one snack which is completely made up of unprocessed whole grains. In fact, a serving of it gives almost three-fourths of a person’s recommended daily intake.

A Word of Caution

Antioxidants in PopcornsThe results of this study should not be a license for anyone to just pile on popcorn. Although popcorn has been identified by Today Nutrition Expert Joy Bauer as having low calories, heart-healthy, and nutrient-laden as well as a good source of healthy fiber, the right kind of popcorn that should be eaten should be the one that is prepared with the correct ingredients.
Most varieties of popcorn, particularly those that are served in movies, are brimming with butter, oil, and salt that will negate the health benefits that it has to offer. Bauer cited a recent research by the Center for Science in the Public Interest showing that a regular serving size of popcorn from movie theaters contains 1,200 calories plus thrice the recommended daily intake of saturated fat. These figures can even double when customers request for the additional buttery topping which is very popular among movie goers.

How Healthy Popcorn should be Prepared

Bauer recommends that, in order to reap the nutritional benefits of this movie snack, plain popcorn kernels should be the ones that are used. It should be prepared sans oil in a hot-air popper. It should be noted that even those microwave popcorn that are marked as light or those that are low-fat can have ingredients that are detrimental to a person’s health.

Nutrition professor Jeffery B. Blumberg from Tufts University saw the popcorn study by Dr. Vinson a good first step. However, he was very keen in pointing out that such study was not especially designed to learn the health advantages of popcorn. He recommends further studies on the amount of polyphenols that are actually contained in the hulls of the popcorn actually make their way into the human system that eats them.

This study from the University of Scranton was offered as a part of the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), held in San Diego, California.

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