Mind & Body

5 surprising health perks of popcorn

 Did you know popcorn is basically a health food?! Yep, as our resident dietitian Melissa Meier explains, it’s nutrient-rich, cheap, and low in calories. 

The words ‘good health’ probably don’t spring to mind when you think of popcorn, but you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that popcorn is actually pretty darn good for you.

I’m not talking about the mountains of salty, buttery popcorn you love digging into at the movies, though – instead, the plain, air-popped variety you’ll find on supermarket shelves. Here’s why I think it deserves a place in your shopping trolley.

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1. It’s a wholegrain

Although most people think of corn as a vegetable, it’s actually a grain – and a wholegrain, at that. That’s a major tick in my books, because wholegrains are oh-so-good for you, containing all three natural layers of the grain: the fibre-rich bran, the nutrient-rich germ and the starchy endosperm.

By comparison, refined grains contain only the endosperm, so are nowhere near as nutritious.

Research has shown that eating wholegrains regularly reduces your risk of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and even certain cancers.

2. It’s low in calories

30 grams of popcorn (which is a pretty decent bowl full!) contains only 110 calories, so is a perfect choice with your waistline in mind.

To give you some perspective, the average daily calorie consumption is 2080 calories, which means that a big bowl of air-popped popcorn contributes only 5 percent of your whole day’s intake.

3. It provides iron

Yep, you read that correctly – popcorn provides about 1mg of iron per 30g.

That mightn’t sound impressive in comparison to the 18mg women between the ages of 19 and 50 require each day, but considering so many of us fall short, every little bit counts.

I’d suggest pairing your popcorn with some Vitamin C in the form of fresh fruit to help boost plant-based iron absorption.

4. It provides fibre

The same quantity of popcorn provides 4.7g of fibre, which is pretty significant.

In case you’re not aware, females should aim for at least 25g of fibre per day (this quota bumps up to 30 for males) – so that humble bowl of popcorn gets you almost 20 percent of the way there.

Of course, fibre helps to keep you regular, but it also supports overall digestive health and heart health and will keep you feeling full and satisfied, too.

5. It’s cheap (if not cheaper!) as chips

Not exactly a perk for your body, but a perk for the health of your bank balance.

Popcorn is one of the most inexpensive snack foods on the plant, coming in at a mere 15 cents (!) per 30g if you buy the kernels and pop them yourself.

If that’s too much hard work, the pre-popped options at the supermarket still check out at well under $1 a serve. #Winning.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practicing dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.