Poppin’ Flavors for Your Popcorn

It turns out, we may have more food choices in common with our early ancestors than we think. Popcorn may date back as far as 6,700 years ago, and according to History, traces of Peruvian snacking habits suggest popcorn was served in prehistoric settlements. These days, popcorn is one of the most popular snacks in the United States and many grocers dedicate an entire aisle to the airy delight.

While movie popcorn isn’t exactly healthy, many home choices have several health benefits:

  • Fiber content. As a whole grain, popcorn is high in fiber. A 3-cup serving has 3.6 grams of fiber, which helps support digestive and heart health. Fiber also makes the snack a filling choice – a desirable quality for a snack.
  • Polyphenol content. It might surprise you that popcorn has more polyphenols than some vegetables. These plant compounds act as antioxidants to fight free radicals in the body and may help prevent chronic disease.popcorn
  • Low glycemic index. Compared to a lot of salty snacks like crackers, popcorn has a low glycemic index. This means that it doesn’t have a strong immediate effect on blood sugar, making it a relatively good snack choice for people with diabetes.
  • Low energy density. Popcorn has a relatively low energy density – allowing you to get -more bang for your buck in the serving-size department than with salty snacks like chips. A 3-cup serving has about 100 calories.

Deciphering what’s best among the countless popcorn options at the grocery store can be tricky. Here’s what to look for on the nutrition facts label for maximum health benefits:

  • Sodium. Aim for low sodium content. For reference, anything with less than 5% of the daily value is considered low.
  • Saturated fat. Movie popcorn is known for being doused in butter, which is not exactly heart healthy. While store options are often better for the heart, it’s worth comparing saturated fat content between brands to make the healthiest choice. For reference, under 13 grams is a good daily amount.
  • Ingredients. Aim for options with fewer ingredients. Ideally, the ingredient list should be limited to corn, oil, salt and herbs. Avoid options with excess sugar.

One of the best ways to keep the salt and sugar content low is by making your own topper. To get the seasoning to stick, give the popcorn a quick spray with olive oil spray, then sprinkle. Here are three delicious options to try:

popcornFaux Cheesy Vegan Blend

  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Pinch of salt

Chili Lime

*a little of this mixture goes a long way

  • 2 Tbsp. True Lime seasoning (crystalized lime)
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • Pinch of salt

Parmesan Garlic

  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. thyme, dried
  • Pinch of salt

For healthy recipes, use your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices, with MIBlue (pronounced “My Blue”) from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. 

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Photo credit: BCBSM.com 

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