When Popcorn is Healthy and When It Is Not

4 Dec

Popcorn is a classic go-to snack for people of all ages. This snack not only looks great, but its enticing aroma and incredible taste are also quite appealing. However, some have raised concerns about how healthy and safe it is to consume this enjoyable snack. This article will look into these concerns and discuss when popcorn is healthy and when it is not. Whether your popcorn will be beneficial or disastrous to your health is dependent on how it is made and the ingredients you use. 

Healthy popcorn is air-popped and not very heavily seasoned. The corn kernel itself is considered unharmful, and because it is a high-fiber grain, it poses no threat of heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, and other health issues. Popcorn kernels are whole grains, and research has shown that whole grains are safe and mostly calorie-free. 

Bowl of healthy popcorn

Health Benefits of Popcorn

Among other snacks, popcorn is famous for its unique and delicious taste. Additionally, the snack has great nutritional values.

Popcorn is rich in carotenoid antioxidants, which help protect eye health, slow down age-related degenerations, and function as a combatant against inflammation in the digestive system.  

There are several other health benefits of popcorn, including; 

  • Enhances healthy bone functions: Popcorn contains phosphorus and manganese; these are typical minerals that support different body cells, including bone functions.
  • Controls blood sugar levels: The fiber content in popcorn kernels effectively regulates blood sugar levels in the body. The presence of sufficient fiber in the body reduces sugar levels, which is an added advantage for diabetic traits.  
  • Improves digestion: The availability of dietary fiber in popcorn also helps regulate digestion and improves various digestive organs’ functionality, thereby making digestion easier. 
  • Provides energy: It may surprise you the amount of energy this fluffy light snack produces in the body. Popcorn’s nutrients, such as Vitamin B, can produce folates and pantothenic acid regulating processes and provides energy.  
  •  Helps fight depression: There is a significant amount of Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, in popcorn. A study has shown that this niacin has the potential to ease depression in humans.  
  • Popcorn also  
    • Combats tumor cells 
    • Regulates appetites 
    • Slows down aging 
    • Reduces cholesterol levels. 

When Popcorn is Not Healthy

Although popcorn is generally referred to as a safe-to-eat snack, caution is advised as it may attract some adverse effects when consumed carelessly. Some types of popcorns carry a high number of calories because of the amount of salt added for taste. Sodium is one of the leading causes of hypertension and stroke. It can also trigger various heart diseases. These effects only occur on rare occasions and are absent in most popcorns. However, there is a significantly increased risk of attracting some other health complications when consumed excessively. 

Another possibly harmful substance in popcorn is diacetyl. Diacetyl is a type of chemical that is often linked to a disease called popcorn lung. This chemical is usually present in some baking butter and cheese, and its effect is often activated when it is inhaled in a large quantity. 

Tips For Making Healthier Popcorn

Remember that the nutrition degree in popcorn can be affected mainly by the ingredients in popcorn toppings and seasoning. Hence, here are some tips for making better and healthier popcorn. 

  1. Make air-popped popcorn. 
  2. If you must use oil, use healthy ones like avocado or walnut oils. 
  3. Do consume microwaveable popcorn.
  4. Use only a little or no butter. 
  5. Reduce sweeteners to minimal. 
  6. Serve with protein (e.g., peanut butter). 

Bottom Line

Regardless of the side effects mentioned, popcorn is generally a safe snack. However, to properly incorporate popcorn as a healthy snack into your diet, you need to find a balance. Moreover, it would be best to be careful about how your popcorn is made, and always remember to enjoy it with caution.

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