Popcorn: The Snack With Even Higher Antioxidant Levels Than Fruits and Vegetables
Mar. 25, 2012 — Popcorn's reputation as a snack food that's actually good for health popped up a few notches as scientists recently reported that it contains more of the healthful antioxidant substances called "polyphenols" than fruits and vegetables.
Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a pioneer in analyzing healthful components in chocolate, nuts and other common foods, explained that the polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn, which averages only about 4 percent water, while polyphenols are diluted in the 90 percent water that makes up many fruits and vegetables.
In another surprising finding, the researchers discovered that the hulls of the popcorn -- the part that everyone hates for its tendency to get caught in the teeth -- actually has the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber.
"Those hulls deserve more respect," said Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. "They are nutritional gold nuggets."
"Popcorn may be the perfect snack food."
Popcorn The Super Healthy Snack Food
The amounts of antioxidants in popcorn were much higher than previously believed, he said. The levels of polyphenols rivaled those in nuts and were up to 15 times greater than whole-grain tortilla chips.
The new study found that the amount of polyphenols found in popcorn was up to 300 mg a serving compared to 114 mg for a serving of sweet corn and 160 mg for all fruits per serving. In addition, one serving of popcorn would provide 13 percent of an average intake of polyphenols a day per person in the U.S. Fruits provide 255 mg per day of polyphenols and vegetables provide 218 mg per day to the average U.S. diet.