New research by The American Chemical Society suggests that popcorn may deserve a place next to kale, acai berries, and kefir as the world’s latest super-food.
While not a scientific term, superfood is often used to describe dark greens, fruits, nuts and other foods that contain high nutrient or phytochemical content. Popcorn contains a high level of antioxidants called polyphenols which protect against disease by fighting free radicals, according to Dr. Joe Vinson. In fact, it’s those particularly annoying popcorn hulls that contain the highest concentration of fiber and polyphenols.
“One serving of popcorn will provide more than seventy percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way,” said Vinson, who presented his findings at a recent national meeting of the ACS in San Diego.
But this doesn’t mean you can opt for extra butter next time you’re at the movies: in order to enjoy the true health benefits of popcorn, it should always be air popped, and never popped in oil or the microwave. You should probably skip the salt as well.
Dr. Vinson did acknowledge that while popcorn may be an interesting substitute for whole grains or your usual source of fiber, this crunchy snack will never take the place of real fruits and vegetables, most of which contain other essential vitamins and nutrients that popcorn does not.