Did you know that popcorn was originally a healthy snack?

By Lorraine Koh - Thursday, Apr 05, 2012

Pop your popcorn the natural way for maximum benefits.


Think popcorn and images of overweight movie-goers and sickly sweet gourmet versions come to mind. Few of us would imagine popcorn to be healthy. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, large popcorn sold at cinemas has 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat — the equivalent of a pound of baby back ribs topped with a scoop of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, but with more fat.


However in the beginning, popcorn was meant to be healthy. There are many different accounts on who was the original inventor of this fluffy snack, but many believed it to be the American Indians. As the story goes, the American Indians were big fans of corn, and one day, some corn fell inside the campfire and popcorn was born.


Archaeologists have found 80,000-year-old corn pollen below Mexico City. Because this pollen is almost exactly the same as modern popcorn pollen, researchers believe that ancient cavemen most likely had popcorn.


Popcorn is healthy due to its high fibre content. However since then, the snack has been overdosed with sugar, salt and a host of funky artificial flavourings. Today, in areas like Nepal, India, people are still enjoying popcorn the natural way, popped over a fire.


A recent study by the University of Scranton ( http://matrix.scranton.edu/news/articles/2012/03/popcorn-study.shtml ) has reported that popcorn contains more antioxidants (due to polyphenol) than fruits and vegetables. The reason for this is because popcorn (100% grain) does not contain a lot of water compared to fruits and vegetables.


Dr. Vinson, one of the researchers at the university, cautioned, however, that the way people prepare and serve popcorn can quickly put a dent in its healthful image.


Dr. Vinson comments, “Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, and if you pop your own with oil, this has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself.”