A Moment of Science

Popcorn Makes A Perfect, Healthy Snack

Plain, simple popcorn is not only a healthful snack but also one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.

popcorn close up

Photo: Piotr Zaborowski (Flickr)

Yum! Check out that nutritious snack!

Dear A Moment of Science,
I love to snack, but I also want to lose weight. The problem is, I really hate vegetables and fruit, at least as snack foods. I want something with a little salt, a little crunch. So are there any salty, crunchy snacks that are actually good for me?

Well, if snacking on baby carrots isn’t your bag, and crisp grapes don’t deliver the sort of crunch you’re looking for, there is one snack that may do the trick: popcorn.

Wait. I’ve always thought of popcorn as, well, as straight up junk food. Isn’t popcorn full of salt and butter and all sorts of other high fat, high-calory stuff?

Movie Theater Popcorn Vs Plain Popcorn

Sure, if you’re talking about movie theater popcorn, or caramel corn, or the bagged, cheese sprayed junk at the grocery store. But plain, simple popcorn is not only a healthful snack but also one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.

Popcorn is a whole grain that’s high in fiber and low in calories. Beyond that, food researchers have found that popcorn is teeming with antioxidant molecules that help protect against cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, and repair damaged cells. In fact, like many whole grains, popcorn has more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants

It’s still not clear what percentage of those antioxidants is absorbed by the body. But in any case, if you air-pop popcorn and don’t douse it in butter, salt, and other less healthful things, popcorn is really a very nutritious snack.

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