Is Popcorn Healthy? Health Benefits, Weight Loss and Nutrition Facts

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Adenike Eketunde
Adenike Eketundehttps://www.wikidoc.org/index.php/Adenike_Eketunde
I am a health enthusiast with a degree in medicine and public health. I have over 5 years of experience working in the clinical and non-clinical setting. I have experience in medical writing and review with published articles on PubMed.

No matter how excited you are about seeing that movie, the whole experience is incomplete with popcorn. The two are just “butter” together. Even when you don’t have a plate full of food during your Netflix-and-chill moments, you can always rely on this for a quick munch. 

This fragrant, buttery goodness is a tidbit all our mouths water for, but is popcorn healthy? It sure is a fast and filling snack, but let’s stop and see if it is good enough for our health as much as our taste buds yearn for. 

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Popcorn is an A-Maize-ing Source of Nutrients!

popcorn nutrition facts

You will be surprised to find out the nutritional value of these popping kernels. It may just appear as a cheap carnival snack, but it offers so much.       

It’s Not Just the Film that Moves You:

A good bowel movement is always satisfying and necessary for digestive health. Dietary fiber is the main contributor to adequate roughage. Its shape and texture make it easy to forget that popcorn comes from maize, a whole grain.

In about 100 grams of popcorn, you get as much as 15 grams of fiber! This is more than enough to provide bulk to your undigested food. Not only will the food in your gut be moving well, but you will feel full and less bloated after eating popcorn.

Full and Happy:

Popcorn has a light and airy structure, which allows you to eat a lot of it without feeling too stuffed. Studies have shown that people feel more satisfied with a single serving of popcorn rather than other types of snacks of the same amount. This is a great advantage because you enjoy many snacks and do not feel hungry!

So, if the movie you just watched left you disappointed and left with questions, your snack will leave you feeling the complete opposite. Hence, popcorn is proper comfort food in all terms. 

Diabetes has Left the Theater:

When talking about ordinary popcorn, pure corn kernels were directly picked and heated. The end product is still a whole grain as it is entirely untreated. Its intact nature leaves the grain to retain all of its natural fiber.

The high content of the plant fiber dramatically decreases the amount of sugar that the blood can absorb. When the blood sugar levels are low after eating, the chance of type 2 diabetes occurring is significantly reduced. 

This yummy snack also contains a significant amount of polyphenols. It is a chemical that makes up antioxidants. Your body needs antioxidants to regulate sugar in the bloodstream. So once again, you have minimal risk of developing diabetes from popcorn. 

The Heart Feels the Thrill:

If you have eaten enough popcorn throughout your life, you know it still tastes great without seasoning. Leaving out the salt and toppings, you can consume many boxes without worrying about high blood pressure. 

You have read that popcorn leaves you feeling full and content after eating it. Lesser sugar is released into your blood when the food breaks down. This results in your heart being able to pump the blood more efficiently.

The chances of getting cardiovascular diseases to decrease. So, when you feel your heartbeat rising after eating popcorn, rest assured that it is because of the movie you’re watching and not food-induced hypertension. 

The Extra Baggage Can Stay Outside:

Do you know what’s ironic about popcorn? It takes up a lot of space in containers, but just the tiniest bit inside your body. If you compare 100 grams of popcorn and the same measure of chips, the cracked kernels only have around 375 calories, whereas the crispy potatoes have nearly 536. 

This proves that you can eat a lot of popcorn and still not gain too much weight. In fact, the low-calorie count and high fiber make this a great diet food option when you are looking to shed those extra pounds. You win from all directions because you get to lose weight and enjoy a delicious snack.

It’s in the Details:

Enough about the obvious health benefits – let’s get to the minute attributes. Apart from fiber, antioxidants, and low calories, popcorn has a lot of essential vitamins and minerals. These include riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, E, K, B5, and B6.   

Vitamin A, niacin, and riboflavin are needed for good eyesight and can even prevent the risk of cataracts. Another supplement good for the eyes is Vitamin E, a great contributor to healthy, supple skin and shiny hair. 

The other vitamins are vital in brain development, converting food into energy and generating blood cells. 

Is Popcorn Healthy with Added Seasoning?

is popcorn healthy

Despite how pleasant something sounds, there’s always a catch, isn’t there? Unfortunately, the same goes for your favorite theater food. 

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Getting Salty:

Indeed, it’s hard to enjoy food when it is not seasoned correctly. And salt is the essential flavoring you can put on a dish. It is implausible to consume popcorn even without the tiniest bit of salt.

And that is the issue – salt itself equals sodium, which is a prime cause of hypertension. Excess salt leads to the body retaining too much water. This causes a rise in blood pressure and can damage the veins and arteries in the heart. 

The heart and your kidneys will also strain to remove the unwanted water from your body. This further leads to increased blood pressure and, in extreme cases, kidney failure.

It is best to avoid ready-made popcorn as much as possible if you are conscious of your diet and health. Pre-packaged versions have been found to contain the highest amount of sodium. 

So, think twice before you sprinkle that “good” stuff on your popcorn. Your tongue will be happy, but it will cost you your heart, blood, and kidneys.

Butter isn’t Always Better:

There’s a high chance you like popcorn so much because it’s greasy. Theater popcorn is swimming in butter even if you can’t see it. Admit it; most oily foods just taste better.

Even if butter is primarily a dairy product, it contains a lot of fat. This type of fat is made from hydrogenated oil, which raises the cholesterol levels in your blood. Even worse, most of the popcorn you get at the movies doesn’t even have butter, but worse – trans fats.

Another added ingredient in buttered popcorn that makes it more harmful is salt. You just read about the dangers of excessive sodium in popcorn. So just imagine the severity of the combination of fat and salt! 

Next time you ask for extra butter on your popped kernels or even think of getting packaged popcorn, take a step back and reflect. The taste is no doubt addicting, which is why you should be even more careful.  

Microwave is a Death Sentence:

As extreme as it sounds, microwavable popcorn is soaked in harmful chemicals. A lot of different preservatives are added to increase the shelf life. In general, such added items react to the chemicals in your bloodstream and can turn into carcinogens. 

So potentially, if you make the wrong choices, you can get cancer from eating popcorn. 

Diabetes has Re-Entered the Theater:

Despite all that you’ve read about popcorn preventing diabetes, it all goes down if you choose the wrong kind. Consider the added ingredients: butter, trans fats, salt, caramel, sugar, cheese, etc. Can you guess what is in great quantity in these?

It is calories, of course. Plain popcorn is a healthy snack, but it is a dietary nightmare with tons of toppings and mixes. Your blood sugar and cholesterol levels will shoot up like never before. Consequently, you are at high risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity.

Reconsider Baggage Claim:

As we all know, popcorn can be addicting. And if you add flavorful junk to it, it gets even tastier. It is light and fun to eat, so you might gobble up box after box while adding more and more cheese, caramel, and whatnot.

You have guessed that this is the ultimate recipe for weight gain. So, if you’re on a diet, seasoned popcorn is a big no-no for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is air-fried popcorn safe to eat?

Yes, air-fried popcorn is the best way to consume it, as it absorbs only the slightest amount of oil.

Can I add other healthy items with popcorn?

As long as the popcorn itself doesn’t have extra toppings such as salt, cheese, sugar, or caramel, you can try adding popcorn to your salads to add an extra crunch.

Why do I feel bloated after eating popcorn?

When eaten in large amounts, the insoluble fiber in popcorn gets concentrated. This leaves you feeling gassy and bloated.

Why does popcorn sometimes smell better than it tastes?

That is your nose tricking you. The yummy smell you get is actually from the melted butter. So, you’ll notice that popcorn sold in theaters or carnivals smells significantly better than the ones popped at home.

Conclusion

Everything about popcorn just sounded so good in the beginning. Until the good stuff came in the flavoring and seasoning – it became sadder than a tragedy movie. So now you might be wondering, is popcorn healthy?

The short answer is yes, but it all depends on how you are preparing it. You can use healthy alternatives, such as coconut or olive oil. Air-popped is the best version you can go for. Many recipes online tell you how to make healthy popcorn that also tastes as good as the unhealthy versions.

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