Plain popcorn has already been hailed as a great diet food for its low calorie content but now a group of scientists say it may even top fruits and vegetables in antioxidant levels.
Antioxidants known as polyphenols have huge health benefits as they help fight harmful molecules that damage cells. Popcorn was found to have a high level of concentrated antioxidants because it is made up of just four per cent water whereas the same oxidant is more diluted in fruits and vegetables because there, it is made up of up to 90 per cent water.
Researchers discovered one serving of popcorn has up to 300mg of antioxidants, nearly twice the 160mg for all fruits per serving. They also found that the crunchy hulls of the popcorn have the highest concentration of antioxidants and fibre.
The scientists from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, United States, US, unveiled their discovery at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego.
“Those hulls deserve more respect. They are nutritional gold nuggets,” said Joe Vinson, researcher. He however warned that people cannot forgo other vitamins in favour of popcorn, as it doesn’t contain vital vitamins and nutrients found in fruit and vegetables. He added that popcorn has many other health benefits, explaining that “popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100 per cent unprocessed whole grain. All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, although cereals are called ‘whole grain’, this simply means that over 51 per cent of the weight of the product is whole grain. One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 per cent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way.”
The scientist however warned that preparation is key to culling popcorn’s health benefits. “Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories while microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped,” he said.
By PORTIA ONWUYALIM