Popcorn, one of America's favorite snacks, typically falls under the junk food category. However, eating the right kernels may provide you with more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables.

Conducted by the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania, researchers analyzed the nutritional value of several brands of popcorn. They found that the hull of the kernel, the crunchy, golden center, has an exceptionally high concentration of polyphenols. In fact, popcorn has nearly double the polyphenol content of most produce. These antioxidants help fight harmful molecules that damage cells and pack a variety of benefits from building healthier skin to preventing cancer.

The reason popcorn has such a high concentration of these antioxidants, according to researchers, is because of the kernel's low water content. Popcorn is approximately four percent water—compared to most fruits and vegetables clocking in at about 90 percent.

What's more, popcorn is one of the only snacks that is 100 percent whole grain. Since the average American gets only half of their daily value from whole grains, this could be an enjoyable way to fill the gap.

Practical Applications

Eater beware: Not all popcorn is created equal. According to analysis conducted by the Center for Science and Public Interest (CSPI) and published by CBS News, a large popcorn at the movies is approximately 1,160 calories and nearly 60 grams of fat. What's more, some critics of the Scranton study say that the hull of a popcorn kernel is mainly comprised of insoluble fiber meaning much of what you eat goes undigested.

If you want to ensure you're getting all of the antioxidant punch you need to maintain healthy skin, fight off cancer, and inflammation, make sure you're not using popcorn as a substitute for other fare. The following foods are nutrient and antioxidant rich—not to mention delicious:

  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Berries
  • Prunes
  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Alfalfa sprouts




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