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Popcorn: The Perfect Snack

When you hear that popping sound you know you are in for a real treat—crunchy, fluffy, delicious popcorn! A movie just isn’t the same without it. But popcorn can be a truly healthy snack anytime, depending on how you prepare it. In fact, many scientists believe it may beat even fruits and veggies when it comes to antioxidant power! That’s because popcorn contains a high level of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory polyphenols, an important antioxidant found in plants. Polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn because they are less diluted than in other sources. According to research, one serving of popcorn has up to 300 mg of polyphenols, nearly double the amount found in fruit!

Scientists have called popcorn “the perfect snack food”. It’s minimally processed, low in calories, and a great source of fiber. According to the Mayo Clinic, three cups of popcorn contain 3.5 grams of fiber. And it’s the only snack that is 100% whole grain!

Of course that popcorn you get at the movie theatre is not the healthiest choice. Obviously, all that oil and butter, plus tons of salt, are a nutritional no-no. Air-popped is the healthiest method of preparation, but cooking on the stove-top with a little olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt is also a good option. If you want a little more flavor, try garlic and Parmesan cheese, or kick your popcorn up a notch with a squeeze of lime and some spicy chili powder. If you are craving something sweet, cinnamon and sugar is a tasty addition to plain popcorn.

Microwave popcorn comes in “light” varieties, and 100 calorie, single serving bags. Most microwave popcorn contains diacetyl, a chemical “butter-flavoring” that, when inhaled, has been linked to a serious respiratory condition. To be safe, let your bag of popcorn cool completely before opening it. The inside of microwave popcorn bags may also be coated with a non-stick chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, associated with an increased risk of cancers, including liver and prostate cancer. If you are concerned, you can use a microwave popcorn bowl that air-pops corn right in your microwave, or you can make your own microwave popcorn bags.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn Bags

• Lunch-sized brown paper bag

• ½ cup popcorn kernels

• Olive Oil

In a small bowl, drizzle olive oil on the popcorn kernels, sprinkle with salt to taste, and toss to coat. Add the popcorn kernels to the brown paper bag. Fold down the top of the bag two times, place it seam side down on a microwave-safe plate, and lightly flatten. Cook your popcorn on high in the microwave for around three minutes, or until the popping slows down. Carefully remove the plate (it may be hot), open the bag, pour the popcorn into a bowl, and enjoy your healthy snack!