popcorn

Is popcorn healthy

Popcorn or pop corn is a whole-grain food/snack that is included among foods recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to increase whole-grain consumption. A 100 gram air popped popcorn (no added salt or sugar) has 14.5 gram of dietary fiber (~50% daily recommended fiber intake) and the energy density of the 94% fat free popcorn (3.87 kcal/g) is 31% lower than that of potato chips (5.4 kcal/g).

Mean intake among consumers of popcorn was 38.8 g/day. Compared with non-consumers, popcorn consumers had approximately 250% higher intake of whole grains (2.5 vs 0.70 servings/day) and approximately 22% higher intake of fiber (18.1 vs 14.9 g/day) 1). Small but significant differences were also observed for intake of carbohydrate, magnesium (higher intake in popcorn consumers), protein, niacin, and folate (lower intake in popcorn consumers). In addition, popcorn consumers had a greater intake of total grains and consumed fewer meat servings. Popcorn consumption was associated with increased intake of whole grains, dietary fiber, and certain other nutrients.

Popcorn is the 10th ranked savory snack in the U.S., eaten approximately nine times per person annually 2) and has been shown to have a beneficial association with whole grain and fiber intake among those who consume it 3).

Popcorn nutrition facts

Air-popped popcorn is naturally high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, low in calories and fat, and free of sugar and sodium. This can make it an attractive snack to people with dietary restrictions on the intake of calories, fat or sodium. For the sake of flavor, however, large amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium are often added to prepared popcorn, which can quickly convert it to a very poor choice for those on restricted diets.

Table 1. Popcorn, air-popped nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 g
Approximates
Waterg3.32
Energykcal387
EnergykJ1618
Proteing12.94
Total lipid (fat)g4.54
Ashg1.42
Carbohydrate, by differenceg77.78
Fiber, total dietaryg14.5
Sugars, totalg0.87
Sucroseg0.72
Glucose (dextrose)g0.07
Fructoseg0.07
Lactoseg0
Maltoseg0
Galactoseg0
Starchg54.4
Minerals
Calcium, Camg7
Iron, Femg3.19
Magnesium, Mgmg144
Phosphorus, Pmg358
Potassium, Kmg329
Sodium, Namg8
Zinc, Znmg3.08
Copper, Cumg0.262
Manganese, Mnmg1.113
Selenium, Seµg0
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg0
Thiaminmg0.104
Riboflavinmg0.083
Niacinmg2.308
Pantothenic acidmg0.51
Vitamin B-6mg0.157
Folate, totalµg31
Folic acidµg0
Folate, foodµg31
Folate, DFEµg31
Choline, totalmg21.2
Betainemg0.8
Vitamin B-12µg0
Vitamin B-12, addedµg0
Vitamin A, RAEµg10
Retinolµg0
Carotene, betaµg89
Carotene, alphaµg58
Cryptoxanthin, betaµg0
Vitamin A, IUIU196
Lycopeneµg0
Lutein + zeaxanthinµg1450
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)mg0.29
Vitamin E, addedmg0
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)µg0
Vitamin DIU0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)µg1.2
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg0.637
04:00:00g0
06:00:00g0
08:00:00g0
10:0g0
12:0g0
14:0g0
15:0g0
16:0g0.536
17:0g0
18:0g0.076
20:0g0.016
22:0g0.008
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg0.95
14:1g0
15:1g0
16:1 undifferentiatedg0.005
17:1g0
18:1 undifferentiatedg0.931
20:1g0.014
22:1 undifferentiatedg0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg2.318
18:2 undifferentiatedg2.263
18:3 undifferentiatedg0.054
18:3 n-6 c,c,cg0
18:04:00g0
20:2 n-6 c,cg0
20:3 undifferentiatedg0
20:4 undifferentiatedg0
20:5 n-3 (EPA)g0
22:5 n-3 (DPA)g0
22:6 n-3 (DHA)g0
Cholesterolmg0
Amino Acids
Tryptophang0.085
Threonineg0.452
Isoleucineg0.431
Leucineg1.473
Lysineg0.338
Methionineg0.252
Cystineg0.217
Phenylalanineg0.59
Tyrosineg0.488
Valineg0.607
Arginineg0.598
Histidineg0.367
Alanineg0.9
Aspartic acidg0.836
Glutamic acidg2.255
Glycineg0.492
Prolineg1.048
Serineg0.571
Other
Alcohol, ethylg0
Caffeinemg0
Theobrominemg0
[Source 4)]

Popcorn diet

Population data show that individuals who consume popcorn, compared to those who do not, have significantly greater intakes of whole grain, fiber, and magnesium 5). In this study 6), low fat popcorn was shown to exert greater short-term satiety than potato chips. The satiety attribute, combined with popcorn’s other favorable characteristics of being a whole grain, high fiber, nutrient dense snack, support popcorn as beneficial snack choice in the context of healthy weight management. Several attributes of popcorn may contribute to its satiating effect at a relatively low energy level, for example, its low energy density 7). The energy density of the 94% fat free popcorn (3.7 kcal/g) is 31% lower than that of potato chips (5.4 kcal/g). Volume is likely another satiety-promoting quality of popcorn. Starch expansion during the popping process produces a foam-like matrix with a large surface-area to mass ratio. This trait, combined with popcorn’s irregular shape, leads to a food with a high volume per unit weight. High volume, due to incorporating air into food and due to irregular shape, has been shown to increase satiety 8), 9). Additionally, the proportionality of macronutrients may contribute to satiety, as prior research has shown that fat is less satiating than carbohydrate or protein 10).

Snacks that offer relatively higher levels of satiety may be beneficial for weight management provided the snack does not contribute to greater overall energy intake. One of the primary issues that has been identified in relationship to snacking, satiety and energy intake is the inability to fully compensate for the energy consumed as snacks 11). Evidence shows that snacks consumed in a non-hungry state do not impact satiety or reduce energy intake at the subsequent meals 12) and cross-sectional and longitudinal studies suggest that snacking is associated with weight gain and or obesity 13). Energy dense, highly palatable foods such as cookies, cakes, desserts, and candies are associated with higher energy intakes in obese adults 14). In contrast, compensation for popcorn resulting in overall energy intake not different from having no snack. This finding is supported by previous population-based research that shows popcorn consumption is not related to increased body mass index 15). In addition, longitudinal 16) and weight loss interventions 17) indicate that snacking has a neutral or positive effect on energy intake or body mass index. For example, provision of up to three snacks daily as part a weight loss diet had a neutral effect on weight change 18), 19).

References   [ + ]

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