Popcorn has gotten a bad rap over the years. It’s often used as a filler food item in movie theaters, fast food restaurants, and even school cafeterias. But did you know that popcorn is a great source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, vitamin B6, folate, and iron?
Popcorn is not just a snack food; it’s also a superfood! It’s one of the most nutritious foods available. And since it’s low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with nutrients, it’s a healthy alternative to many junk foods.
In this article, I’ll share with you the top 7 health benefits of popcorn. Then I’ll tell you how to make delicious homemade popcorn that will satisfy your cravings while providing you with tons of nutrition.
Health Benefits of Popcorn
1) Helps fight cold sores:
A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people who ate popcorn every day for three months had fewer outbreaks of herpes zoster (shingles). Herpes zoster is caused by the reactivation of latent varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which causes chickenpox when someone is exposed to the virus.
2) May help prevents cancer:
Researchers at Harvard University have discovered that eating popcorn can reduce inflammation and protect against breast cancer. They believe that the antioxidants in popcorn may help lower levels of inflammation and prevent cell damage, which could lead to cancer.
3) Promotes heart health:
Eating popcorn regularly can improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. These are all factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
4) Lowers risk of diabetes:
Another study from the same journal found that women who eat popcorn daily have a 30% decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This was true even after adjusting for other factors such as age, body mass index, physical activity level, smoking status, alcohol consumption, and family history of diabetes.
5) Helps control weight:
Eating popcorn regularly can help you lose weight because it contains more protein than carbohydrates or fat. Protein helps keep you feeling full longer, so you’re less likely to overeat.
6) Protects against asthma attacks:
People who suffer from asthma tend to be sensitive to allergens like pollen and dust mites. However, if they consume popcorn regularly, their sensitivity to these allergens decreases.
7) Improves digestion:
If you’ve ever eaten a bag of microwave popcorn, you probably noticed that it tends to get stuck between your teeth. That’s because popcorn is made up mostly of air, which makes it very dry. As a result, it doesn’t dissolve well in saliva.
So what should you do about it? You can brush your teeth immediately after eating popcorn to remove any remaining bits. Or, you can chew it thoroughly before swallowing.
If you don’t want to bother with brushing your teeth right away, try drinking some water first. Then, wait 20 minutes before chewing another piece of popcorn.
You can also use an electric toothbrush to clean your mouth. Simply brush your teeth twice per week using an electric toothbrush instead of a manual one.
How to Make Homemade Microwave Popcorn
Now that you know the health benefits of popcorn, let’s learn how to make it yourself. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Place two cups of kernels into a large bowl. Cover them with oil until the kernels float.
Step 2: Put the bowl inside a microwave oven and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave.
Step 3: Let the kernels cool down completely. Once the kernels stop popping, they’re ready to enjoy.
You can add toppings to your popcorn to customize it. Try adding butter, salt, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, or cheese.
Homemade Popcorn Recipe
- 2 cups popped corn
- Oil for cooking
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn kernels and stir constantly for 5 minutes.
Once the kernels start popping, cover the pot with a lid and continue stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, check the pot. When the popping stops, take off the lid and transfer the popcorn to a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and sugar. Enjoy!
Nutrients In Popcorn
The health benefits of popcorn are numerous. It is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. These nutrients protect our bodies from diseases. They also boost our immune system and fight infections.
1) Fiber: A cup of cooked popcorn has 6 grams of fiber. This amount is enough to lower cholesterol levels by 4 milligrams.
2) Vitamin C: One cup of popcorn provides 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This nutrient boosts immunity and fights cold sores.
3) Antioxidants: Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging cells and DNA. Free radicals cause cancer and heart disease. By consuming antioxidant-rich foods, we reduce our chances of getting sick.
4) Omega-3 fatty acids: Popcorn is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help improve brain function and memory. They also keep skin smooth and supple.
5) Folate: The folate content of popcorn is higher than that of other grains. This nutrient helps maintain good vision and bone growth.
6) Potassium: One cup of popcorn contains more potassium than a banana. This mineral helps regulate blood pressure and keeps bones strong.
7) Magnesium: Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining muscle strength and energy metabolism. It also improves sleep quality.
8) Iron: Iron is essential for red blood cell production. A cup of popcorn contains as much iron as a small steak.
9) Zinc: Zinc is needed for proper wound healing and tissue repair. It also protects against sunburns.
10) Manganese: Manganese is an element that strengthens bones and teeth. It also works as an antioxidant.
11) Selenium: Selenium is an antioxidant that prevents cancer and heart disease. It also supports thyroid function.
12) Copper: Copper is used to building connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments. It also helps form enzymes that break down food.
13) Phosphorus: Phosphorus is necessary for building muscles and repairing damaged tissues. It also promotes hair growth and tooth enamel formation.
14) Calcium: Calcium is vital for healthy bones and teeth. It contributes to normal nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
15) Choline: Choline is an essential component of acetylcholine, which is required for learning and memory. It also aids digestion and liver detoxification.
16) Lutein: Lutein is a carotenoid that protects eyesight. It also reduces the risk of cataracts.
17) Beta-carotene: Carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach contain beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A in our body. This nutrient is essential for eye development and preventing certain types of cancers.
18) Thiamine: Thiamine is a B vitamin that helps convert carbohydrates into glucose. It also helps produce hormones and neurotransmitters.
19) Riboflavin: Riboflavin is another B vitamin that helps metabolize protein. It also produces energy and maintains healthy skin and mucous membranes.
20) Niacin: Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. It helps control weight gain and lowers cholesterol.
21) Pantothenic acid: Pantothenic acid is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found primarily in dairy products. It helps prevent infections and boost the immune system.
22) Vitamins D and E: Both vitamins are antioxidants that protect us from environmental toxins. They also fight inflammation and support healthy joints.
23) Vitamin K: Vitamin K is an essential micronutrient that helps the body absorb calcium. It also helps keep bones strong.
24) Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps strengthen capillaries and improve immunity. It also fights infection and boosts collagen synthesis.
25) Folic Acid: Folic acid is an essential nutrient that helps make DNA and RNA. It also helps reduce homocysteine levels, which can cause cardiovascular problems.
26) Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that’s involved in making new cells. It also helps with the absorption of folic acid and iron.
Types of Pop Corn
There are two main types of popcorn available today – air-popped and deep-fried. Air popping uses hot air to create tiny holes in the kernels. Deep frying involves cooking them until they pop.
Air Popped Popcorn
Popcorn is made by removing the germ of the corn kernel before popping it. The germ contains most of the starch and some oil. When you remove this part of the corn, it becomes lighter than other parts of the kernel. You can buy ready-to-pop corn or cook your own.
Popcorn has been around since ancient times when Native Americans would use dried corn kernels to light fires. Popcorn was one of the first foods eaten by Christopher Columbus after he landed on American soil.
Today, there are many different varieties of popcorn available. Some of these include:
- Buttered Popcorn: This type of popcorn is coated in butter. It’s delicious but may be high in calories.
- Cheese Popcorn: This type is usually sprinkled with cheese. It’s great if you love cheese!
- Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn: This type comes with a cinnamon-sugar coating. It’s perfect for those who like spicy food.
- Chili Lime Popcorn: This type tastes just like chili lime seasoning.
- Garlic Popcorn: This type has garlic powder added to it. It’s not as popular as others because it doesn’t taste very good.
Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.