Snack popular with cinema fans could lower your risk of heart disease

A woman at the cinema
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


Standard cinema popcorn or pre-packaged popcorn at the supermarket isn't the healthiest option, but without any added fats, sugar and salt, it could be really good for you.

If you bought a bag of pure corn kernels and popped them yourself, you're onto a winner. While some people wouldn't consider popcorn as the healthiest of snacks, it actually comes with a whole range of important nutrients due to popcorn being a whole-grain food.

In one 28g serving of plain, air-popped popcorn, there is approximately 4.2g of fibre - which makes up for 17% of the recommended daily intake. The snack is also rather low in calories (108kcal per 28g of popped corn) and low fat with 1.2g per portion, reports the Express.

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Whole grain foods are considered healthier than processed grains like white rice and pasta. This is because they have not had any part of their husk removed - keeping several important nutrients in tact when they reach your stomach.

Studies link eating whole grains to health benefits like reducing the risk of developing illnesses such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes. This is likely down to the high mineral content and abundance of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties present in most whole grains.

close-up of popcorn in the hands
Plain, homemade popcorn from pure corn kernels can be good for you -Credit:(Image: Getty)

Popcorn, in its unadorned state, boasts zero cholesterol, making it a heart-friendly snack for those with cardiac conditions. By air popping it in a pan or microwave, you can avoid adding oils or butter that may contain harmful cholesterol.

These tiny kernels are also fibre-rich, promoting satiety and curbing hunger pangs, which could be beneficial for weight management.

Wondering how to make your homemade popcorn healthier?

The culprit behind the unhealthy reputation of most shop-bought popcorn is the salt and butter used for flavouring and cooking. If healthy ready-made popcorn eludes you, purchase your own kernels and opt for air popping.

A sensible serving size of popcorn is around 25-30g. While plain popcorn can serve as a low-calorie nibble, portion control is crucial to maintain a calorie balance.

This BBC Good Food recipe provides a straightforward guide to whipping up your own stove-top popcorn at home in just five minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels

  • Salt (to taste)

  • 1 tablespoons of butter (optional extra)

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat. If you are using coconut oil, allow all of the solid oil to melt.

  • Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer.

  • Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.

  • Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once.

  • Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl. With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop, and nothing burns.

  • If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan. Note that if you let the butter get just a little bit brown, it will add an even more intense, buttery flavour to the butter and to your popcorn. Just drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and toss to distribute.

If you're keen on adding butter, simply melt it in the now empty, but still warm pan. Allowing the butter to brown slightly will impart a richer, more intense flavour to both the butter and your popcorn. Just drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and toss to distribute evenly.

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