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Is Popcorn a Health Food?

Maybe so. A new study suggests that popcorn and other whole grains, including some breakfast cereals, contribute more to health than just the fiber they contain. Many of these foods are rich in polyphenols, health promoting antioxidants also found in fruits, vegetables, wine, chocolate, coffee and tea. A study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania presented at the August, 2009, meeting of the American Chemical Society found that whole grains such as popcorn contain a "surprising large" number of polyphenols. The investigators said that the polyphenols in whole grain cereals and snack foods were "potentially more important" than fiber in reducing the risks of cancer and coronary heart disease. In fact, the research team noted that it found "comparable antioxidants per gram to fruits and vegetables." The most antioxidants were present in whole grain cereals made with wheat and, in this study; raisin brain had the highest amount of antioxidants per serving, thanks to the raisins. But corn, oats and rice cereals also contained polyphenols, in descending order. Among snack foods, the study found that popcorn has the most antioxidants. So eat up. But hold the butter.

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Reader Comments (6)

Yay! I love popcorn.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

mmm... raisin brain...

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterasad

Yes, I love popcorn! I always knew there was something good about this stuff. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to hold the butter.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Michael

I love popcorn, but don't eat that much anymore now that my daughter is married and out of the house. She and I would have popcorn a few times a week. I am going to have to start eating it again.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Popcorn that you make yourself with good quality ingredients is great! I love the blue popcorn, popped in walnut oil with some Celtic Sea Salt. Delicious!

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy Staywell

Popcorn, maybe. But I question the comment about the most antioxidants being in wheat. If you are the 1 in 133 who has celiac disease, or the approx. 20% who have gluten intolerance, the negative effects of gluten in wheat are going to destroy any benefit you get from wheat's antioxidants. Also, there is mounting evidence that the ability to digest gluten rapidly decreases with age, so if you're over 40, popcorn is probably preferable to anything made with wheat, rye, or barley.

December 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEd Arnold

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