Studies: Popcorn, Chocolate Good for Health

Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn, White Corn

Snackers of the world – rejoice. Two recent studies are telling us Fooducate’s favorite snacks are healthy! Woo hoo!

Research conducted at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania has found that popcorn has more polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) than fruits and vegetables!

And

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that people who regularly consumed chocolate were skinier than those who did not.

ChocoLove

The chocolate research was conducted by scientists at the University of California in San Diego and included about 1000 people. The BMI of those who ate more chocolate was lower than those who ate less, even though they consumed the same amount of calories. The researchers theorize that catechins (again, a certain type of antioxidant) found in chocolate may have some sort of effect on metabolism at a cellular level, but more research is required. The notion that not all calories are equal is certainly compelling food for thought.

But as always, you need to read the fine print. Most chocolate consumed in the US is milk chocolate, not dark. It has significantly less antioxidants than dark chocolate. And it is very high in calories. If you want to consume a bar of chocolate every day and get skinny, you’re in for a let down.

UPDATE: Dr. Yoni Freedhoff rips the chocolate study to shreds in his review of the research.

As for popcorn: Most popcorn being sold in supermarkets today is prepackaged with butter / oils and artificial ingredients that turn it into a nutrition nightmare. Plain popcorn rocks and is cheap to buy. Here’s a simple microwave recipe, courtesy of registered dietitian Joy Bauer:

Simply pour 3 to 4 tablespoons plain kernels into a brown paper lunch bag, fold over the top of the bag twice to seal it closed, and microwave for about 2 minutes, or until the popping slows to a few seconds between pops. (Cook time will vary from depending upon the microwave, so it may take you a few tries to figure out the perfect pop time for your unit.)

After the corn is popped – most people find it too bland to enjoy. Here is where you need to get creative:

  • Lightly sprinkle it with pepper flakes, paprika, or any other hot spice.
  • Use a mister to spray it with high quality olive oil and  some sea salt
  • Or grate some dark chocolate on top (just like parmesan cheese)

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  • Ken Leebow

    I’m still digesting the pink slime story … btw, Jon Stewart had a nice spoof about it last night … http://bit.ly/HlnzKT

  • FrugalArugula

    You may want to replace Orville’s crazy GMO popping corn with this pic: http://www.edenfoods.com/store/images/products/zoom/105400.jpg

    If you’re going to eat/snack/approve something for a healthy alternative, it should fit the bill.

    *Sprinkle Truffle Salt
    *Experiment with different cooking oils. Peanut and different olive oils make interesting flavors. 

  • Renee Titelbaum

    Great respond to the chocolate “study” by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff: http://www.weightymatters.ca/2012/03/what-reading-that-eat-chocolate-be.html?m=1

  • Spinning the news

    Irresponsible of Fooducate to tweet with exclamation marks about the “study” on chocalate until it was at least minimally vetted.  You know they wouldn’t have done the same if it involved a positive report on a food additive. 

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

      You’re right. Lesson learned. We’ll do better next time.

  • Carol

    Too bad the supposed polyphenols in popcorn are mostly in the indigestible husk. Just because something tests in a lab as having a beneficial nutrient doesn’t mean it is going to benefit us after it enters (and often quickly leaves, intact) our digestive system. Same goes for whole flax seeds, sesame seeds, uncooked millet, etc. Fiber is a good thing, but calling it polyphenols/antioxidants is another matter.

    • Anonymous

      Good point. But I would counter that just because a compound is in an undigested part of plant, doesn’t mean it isn’t extracted/leached out.

      • Carol

        Most of the news media neglected to mention important facts: the study was partially funded by a popcorn company (Weaver) (note: ConAgra funded a similar study in 2008 relating to wholegrain/fiber content of popcorn); most if not all the data was first presented in 2009 (can anyone find the original “study”?); the actual benefits (and risks) of antioxidants are still only vaguely understood; oak leaves contain tons of polyphenols too…
        And these quotes by an actual nutritionist (vs. chemist) is left out of most popular media articles: “The study is a good first step, but it wasn’t designed to measure
        health benefits, says Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition
        at Tufts University and senior scientist and director of Tufts’
        Antioxidants Research Laboratory. The next step is to figure out how much of popcorn’s polyphenols get out of the hull and into your gut, Blumberg says”
        So… saying popcorn is the perfect snack food is a HUGE stretch.

  • Hockeyhape25

    I am from Scranton and I fully support this study !

  • Anonymous

    Second to the homemade microwave popcorn! We did this all the time when we still had a microwave. You can staple (just once) the bag shut too (yes, it is OK). We also added a little oil at this stage. If you do, put the bag on a plate as it will leak through and gets really hot.

    Also, we found that if you salt, you use less if you added it in when popping. It seems to spread out more evenly and you get less salt “hot spots”.

  • Rur42

    Tried the popcorn in a bag suggestion.  Paper bag caught on fire.  Rverted to hotair popper.

  • http://www.homecaredirect.co.uk/ Louise Roberts

    Ha, I appreciate you bcoz mates all suggest me to eat Popcorn, Chocolates good for health. Thanks!

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