When was the last time you went to the movies and did NOT order popcorn? Most people cannot resist this timeless treat at the theater, and now, maybe you don’t even have to feel guilty about munching on a tub of popcorn while you watch the latest blockbuster!
A recent study performed at the University of Scranton evaluated the nutritional quality of popcorn. Popcorn has been touted in the past for its fiber and whole grain content, but the study revealed that popcorn also has a large amount of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are phytonutrients found in plants. They give the plant protective properties such as antioxidants, and the theory is that when we consume plants containing phytonutrients such as polyphenols, our bodies will reap this protective quality.
Antioxidants can fight a number of potential problems in the human body. First and foremost, they fight the damage incurred by free radicals. Free radicals destroy cells and therefore tissue through a process called oxidation.
This oxidative stress can lead to a number of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. As well, oxidative stress causes premature aging.
Phytonutrients in plants also have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic systemic inflammation is also behind disease as well as weight gain, fatigue and aging. By consuming a diet rich in plants, you can help reduce inflammation and promote a healthier body as well as weight loss.
The study found that a serving of popcorn contains around 242-363 mg of polyphenols (contained in the hull, not the white fluffy part) compared to various fruits that contain around 160 mg per serving.
Does this mean you can ditch your fruits and vegetables? Absolutely not! Consuming a wide variety of plants is your best defense against weight gain and disease.
Phytonutrients also give plants their natural characteristics. Anthocyanins are responsible for the rich purple color of acai berries and red grapes.
Carotenoids lend to the orange color of carrots and sweet potatoes. There are literally hundreds of different phytonutrients that when combined, give the plant it’s unique texture, color, aroma and nutritional qualities.
When you offer your body a wide variety of plants, you are supplying it with a wide array of these amazing nutrients!
As well, you want to make sure you aren’t ruining your popcorn by drenching it in butter. Instead, try air popped popcorn and flavor it yourself with some healthier alternatives such as a bit of olive oil, black pepper and sea salt. Or, go spicy and add some cayenne pepper!
So, what about that butter laden movie theater popcorn? Go for it! As long as you aren’t at the movies every week, your body can probably handle a little saturated fat along with the added health benefits of popcorn!