Your favorite movie snack might double as a nutritious treat, according to new research. And not only is popcorn a healthy snack, but it might help fight off illnesses. Keep in mind, though, that popcorn is probably best left uncovered with butter and oil for the maximum benefits (health-wise, not taste-wise).
The study, which was funded by a popcorn company, was conducted at the University of Scranton. Researchers found that popcorn is actually packed with antioxidants, which can boost the immune system. Popcorn specifically contains polyphenols, which can prevent damage to cells and fend off diseases.
"The hull is where the most nutritional goodies (polyphenols) are — not the white fluffy part," chemistry professor and study author Joe Vinson told USA Today.
Popcorn can retain its nutritious properties in part because it doesn't contain a lot of water and it is 100 percent whole grain, while some polyphenol-rich fruits and vegetables do contain a lot of water. Popcorn also undergoes minimal processing when it is cooked.
However, before you switch out your celery sticks for a bag of popcorn, researchers warn that it shouldn't be used as a substitute for other healthy choices.
"I don't want people to think they can just eat popcorn to get all the polyphenols they need," said Vison. "I don't want them to think of popcorn as an alternative to fruits and vegetables."
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