How to Ensure Popcorn is a Healthy Snack!
This snack is a classic and one of my favorites! It can be one of the healthiest tasty snacks, but it can also be one of the junkiest snacks.
Here’s why popcorn is a great snack!
- Great fiber, as it’s a whole grain. Whole grains (in moderation) are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and other health problems.
- It’s got vitamins & polyphenols
- It has a low glycemic load, which doesn’t spike blood sugar when eaten
How to get the perfect healthy popcorn?
- Air-popped or Stove top with a good quality oil (& pop at low heat)
- Don’t use microwave popcorn. It has nasty chemicals.
- Salt lightly. No sugar
- Choose organic kernels, if you want to ensure it’s free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, and other chemicals
- Eat one serving size. 4 cups (about 32grams) makes it a reasonable size snack
More Info on the types of Popcorn
When popcorn is air-popped and lightly seasoned, popcorn is an efficiently healthy snack. That’s because it is a whole grain, and high-fiber whole grains have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease: (see source 1), and other health problems. Federal dietary guidelines say half of all grains consumed should be whole grains, and popcorn packs more fiber per serving than whole-wheat bread.
In addition to fiber, popcorn also is a good source of polyphenols: (see source 2), which are antioxidants that have been linked to better blood circulation : (see source 3) and digestive health : (see source 4), as well as a potentially lower risk of certain cancers: (see source 5)
Movie Theatre Popcorn
A report by CSPI found that a medium-sized popcorn at a popular movie theater chain had 1,200 calories – even before factoring in the buttery topping!
Varieties bought from movie theaters or stores are often smothered in unhealthy fats, artificial flavorings, and high amounts of sugar and salt.
Most microwave bags are lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been associated with a variety of health problems. These include ADHD, low birth weight, and thyroid problems. (see source 6)
Stove Top Oil Popcorn
The major difference between air and oil popped popcorn is the fat content. As the name suggests, air-popped popcorn is made using only hot air and no added fat, while oil popped popcorn is cooked on the stovetop with a bit of added oil.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends choosing olive oil, avocado oil, or walnut oil.
These types of oils provide healthy, monounsaturated fats that can contribute to good heart health, improve the function of your blood vessels and help balance your blood sugar and insulin levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Healthy Stove Top Popcorn Recipe!
This is my personal favorite because it has more flavor and crunch than air-popped popcorn.
- 3 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut, avocado, walnut oil). Just enough to coat bottom of pan
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Place olive oil into a large pot on low heat. If it smokes, then it’s too hot.
- Heat for 15-30 seconds, then add kernels and salt. Shake the kernels & salt so it’s evenly coated. Cover with lid.
- Every 30 seconds, shift/shake the pan so all the kernels become heated.
- Cook over low heat for a few minutes or until the popping slows to about 2 seconds between pops (to prevent burning). Remove from heat.
- Lift lid partially to let out the steam (preventing soggy popcorn).