It’s crunch time

10 Apr 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

The world’s favourite movie snack can also be part of a healthy diet, finds Shishira Sreenivas

Have you been doing injustice to your taste buds with bland salads and boring soups in an attempt to cut down a few kilos? Well an age-old delicious snack could add flavour to your diet while also aiding your weight loss mission. According to a study from the University of Scranton, one serving of plain air-popped popcorn can give your body more antioxidants – called polyphenols – than your usual serving of fruit and veggies.

The study found that plain popcorn had about 300mg of polyphenols when compared to the 114mg found in a serving of fruits and greens.

After all, if Madonna survived on just popcorn in her early years in New York City and looked as fabulous as she did, then surely the popcorn diet must have something going for it.

But before you grab a bag of instant microwavable popcorn, here’s what you need to know about the nutritional benefits of this latest low-calorie craze.

Firstly, since popcorn is 100 per cent whole grain, the snack is full of fibre. By itself, plain air-popped popcorn contains only 31 calories per 8g (1 cup) serving. That’s way better than settling for a bag of crisps or tucking into a plate of oily fries.

One of the biggest reasons why popcorn is a healthy snack is because the crunch and the crisp you experience is good enough to satiate your cravings and can help you avoid that desperate moment when your will power crumbles and you reach for something fattening.

The hulls of the popcorn contain a load of antioxidants and can provide you with up to 70 per cent of the recommended daily wholegrain intake, according to the research.

However, here’s the catch. The buttery popcorn you buy at theatres is full of calories and the amount of salt, butter or caramel in the snack can do more damage to your body than good. The same goes for the additives and preservatives in the instant microwavable popcorn packets you can purchase from the store.

The healthiest way to consume popcorn is to pop the plain corn kernels on a stove or an air popper with a bit of olive oil or vegetable oil and dress it up with some low-cal healthy toppings like pepper, red chilli powder or some parmesan cheese.

While there have been several claims that popcorn can be substituted for meals altogether, the research does point out that while popcorn is rich in fibre and antioxidants, it doesn’t contain the vitamins or nutrients essential for the body that fruits and vegetables can provide.

So next time you’re getting ready to watch a movie at home on Friday night, feel free to make some DIY popcorn with some good fats and a dash of seasoning.

Lemon-Parm Popcorn

Under 150 calories: Low calorie popcorn recipe (Source: Kitchen Daily)


  • 2 Teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ Teaspoon lemon pepper
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 Cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese


Whisk the oil, lemon pepper and salt in a small bowl, and then toss it evenly over the air popped popcorn. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and serve right away!

Pop Fun Facts

  • America consumes approximately 17.3 billion litres of popcorn each year.
  • Unpopped popcorn should be stored in refrigerators as it will dry out the moisture and won’t pop.
  • Popcorn kernels can pop up to one metre in the air!
  • The first popcorn machine was showcased at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.
  • The Aztecs of South America used popcorn during ceremonies.
  • There are six types of corn/maize: Sweet, pod, Dent, Flour, Flint and Popcorn. Only popcorn pops!
  • The world’s largest popcorn ball, created in February 2009 in Sac City, Iowa, weighed 2,267 kg.

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