Popcorn: 'The perfect health snack'

Popcorn: 'The perfect health snack'

Don't forget to pick up a tub of popcorn the next time you go for a movie at a nearby theatre, for a new study has claimed that the humble cinema snack is the perfect health food.

Researchers at the University of Scranton have found that popcorn -- already known for being fibre-packed and relatively low in fat -- is packed with more health-boosting antioxidants than fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants are known to reduce one's risk of cancers, dementia and even heart disease.

And, the potent antioxidants, called polyphenols, in popcorn can fight harmful molecules that accumulate in the body and damage cells. They can also help to increase blood flow by relaxing the arteries, the 'Daily Express' reported.

The researchers said that polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn, which averages only about four per cent water, compared with the 90 per cent that makes up many fruits and vegetables.

In fact, the study revealed that the amount of polyphenols found in popcorn was up to 300 mg a serving which would provide 13 per cent of an average intake of polyphenols a day.

In another surprising finding, the researchers discovered the hulls of popcorn, the part everyone hates for its tendency to get caught in the teeth, has the highest concentration of polyphenols and fibre.

Dr Joe Vinson, who led the study, said: "Those hulls deserve more respect. They are nutritional gold nuggets. Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It's the only snack that is 100 per cent unprocessed 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 and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way."

But Dr Vinson cautioned that the way it is served -- cooking it in oil and adding butter, salt or sugar -- can put a dent in its health benefits. Air-popped popcorn has lowest number of calories, compared with popping it in oil.