Popcorn is a healthy snack. Wait! Before you crack open that holiday popcorn tin, head off to the movies and get an extra-jumbo bucket of it, consider that the health benefits come from the plain, unadorned kernels that are, ideally, air-popped. All the butter, salt, cheese, and other toppings we put on may add to the delicious taste and aroma, but they also add to the calorie content and fat count. It is easy to enjoy both the wonderful flavor of popcorn and its healthy attributes. We’ll show you how.
First, don’t go to the movies! Movie theater popcorn is tempting – and that’s why they load it up with butter, or butter flavoring, and salt. The smell makes us throw down large amounts of money for this normally very inexpensive snack. It’ll cost you about $8 for a tub of popcorn; but it’ll cost you more in terms of your health.
A large bucket of popcorn with butter has 1238 calories, 78 grams of fat, and 49 grams of saturated fat. If you cut back to a medium with no butter, you are cutting fat, but still eating 951 calories! And who gets a medium with no butter at the movies? According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a medium container of popcorn with butter has more fat that bacon, eggs, a Big Mac, fries, and a steak dinner – combined!
Luckily, the majority of popcorn that Americans eat (and we eat over 17 billion quarts of it each year) is made at home. This cuts the calorie and fat potential, but with movie theater-style microwave options or our choice of toppings, we may not be doing much better than when we’re watching the latest blockbuster.
As a little incentive to make healthier popcorn, let’s take a look at the health benefits:
You can enjoy the taste of popcorn as well as its health benefits. The first step is to air-pop your kernels. Poppers are inexpensive at box and discount stores. After it’s done, spritz a little olive oil (a healthy fat) on the popcorn. This will help your spices stick to the fluffy popcorn better. Try:
If you don’t have an air popper, put a handful of popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch bag. Put it in the microwave just like you would pre-made microwave popcorn. When the popping slows, take it out. Drizzle it with olive oil and your choice of toppings.
Popcorn can be a wonderful snack to satisfy both sweet and savory cravings, and a popcorn gift basket can even be a wonderful (and healthy) present for others! Just lay off the movie theater-style butter and salt; you can all enjoy these tastes if you drizzle instead of pour! Otherwise, experiment with other flavorings and enjoy!