I absolutely love popcorn. While chocolate still might be my hands-down favourite treat, popcorn is a definite second and comes before chips or ice cream any day. Often, popcorn gets a bad rap for being an unhealthy movie theatre snack, but when prepared without massive amounts of salt or drenched in toxic trans fats, it’s actually more of a superfood. Here are 4 things you might not know about popcorn.
1. It’s packed with antioxidants–even more than fruit!
A study released almost two years ago measured the antioxidant content, in the form of polyphenols, of popcorn, and found that popcorn is highly concentrated with these free radical-fighting, super healthy compounds. The reason why popcorn’s antioxidant content is much higher than fruit is because of its relative water content: fruit contains a high amount of water, which dilutes the antioxidants, meaning we have to eat more to get the same effect. Popcorn is also a whole grain high in fibre, which does everything from promoting digestive health to regulating blood sugar levels and making us feel full longer. Three cheers for healthy and delicious!
2. Ancient people ate it 6,700 years ago
New research shows that ancient people in what’s now known as Peru snacked on popcorn 5,000 years earlier than previously believed–6,700 years ago. They did so by cooking the cobs of corn over coal, over flame, or in an oven, This proves once again that we didn’t really “discover” any superfoods–they have been used by people many, many years ago.
3. Microwave popcorn bags contain chemicals
Chemicals like dangerous nonstick coatings. Yuck. While some companies are planning to phase out the chemicals, who knows what will replace them. To avoid the mysteries of chemicals and their (largely unknown) health effects, be a smarter snacker and make popcorn using an air popper (like mine, seen below). It’s ridiculously easy and fun. Plus, the retro look of a air popper will elevate your hipster status. I like to add butter and cayenne pepper for a kick.
(As an adorable side note, the family dog Flirt knows my popcorn routine very well, and will come running at the sound of the hot air popper. Her self-appointed job is to eat all the popcorn that misses the bowl and falls on the floor. Well done, Flirt).
4. It’s non-GMO
If you’re like me in that you’re interested in learning about food politics and issues, you likely know that a large amount of corn we eat is genetically modified. Until recently, I assumed that this was true about popcorn as well. But while doing research for a new article I was writing a few months ago, I learned that popcorn is its own type of corn and (at least for now) it’s non-GMO. Another happy reason to snack on!