Popcorn’s reputation as a healthy snack got a big boost recently. Researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that this favorite movie snack has more polyphenols (a class of antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables. They reported that, on average, a serving of popcorn gives you up to 300 mg of polyphenols compared to 160 mg per serving for fruits.
The new findings, presented at this year’s national meeting of the American Chemical Society, included the discovery that those annoying little popcorn hulls that get stuck in your teeth actually have the highest concentrations of polyphenols and fiber. The researchers also noted that popcorn is good for us because it is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain.
However, lead researcher Joe Vinson, Ph.D., cautioned that popcorn isn’t such a healthy snack when doused with butter (especially the fake butter you get with movie popcorn).You’ll get the most nutritional mileage out of your popcorn if you air-pop it yourself (microwave popcorn has twice the calories of air-popped and kernels popped in oil has double that many).