Making your popcorn healthier

how can you make your pop corn healthierIn our earlier post we discussed a healthier alternative to pop corn – lotus seeds or tal makhana.

While popcorn does provide several nutritional benefits, you can take some steps to make it even healthier!

Here is a table representing nutritional comparison between the two.

popcorn lotus seeds
calories 382 89
calories from fat 36 3.5
Total fat 4 0.5
saturated fat 1 0.1
cholesterol 0 0
sodium 4 1
total carbohydrate 78 17
dietary fiber 15
sugar
protein 12 4.1
Vitamin A 1%
Vitamin C 0
calcium 1% 4%
iron 15% 5%

Here are some nutritional facts about pop corn and some tips to make it healthier:

  • Popcorn is relatively high in fiber – a cup of air-popped popcorn contains just over a gram of fiber.
  • It also contains 1 gram of protein and 6 grams of carbohydrate.
  • It contains no cholesterol, it is virtually fat-free (only 0.1 g per cup) and contains only 100 to 150 calories in a serving of 5 popped cups
  • Popcorn is 100 percent unprocessed grain, it is a whole-grain food.
  • One serving can provide about 70 percent of the recommended daily intake of whole grain.
  • Popcorn also contains a number of vitamins:  folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and vitamins B6, A, E and K.
  • A serving of popcorn contains about 8 percent of the daily value of iron, with lesser amounts of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
  • The popcorn hull is the source of much of the food’s nutritional value.
  • Hulls contain beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin that are important in maintaining eye health.  They also contain polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties believed to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • These health benefits are derived from air-popped popcorn.
  • They are diminished by adding too much salt or too much butter or margarine.  These should be used sparingly.
  • For variety, try olive oil instead of butter or margarine.
  • Instead of salt, try a mixture of dried herbs such as basil and oregano with a dash of salt.  Put this on the air-popped popcorn just after popping as this is when the moisture from the steam released during the popping process helps the seasonings stick to the popcorn.
  • Or try lightly spraying the popcorn with a non-butter flavored cooking spray before sprinkling on your seasonings.

Reference: http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=22719

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