When it comes to healthy snacks, popcorn has a lot going for it.
- It’s a whole grain, with more fiber per serving than whole wheat bread.
- It has a higher level of polyphenols — powerful antioxidants — than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- It contains small amounts of B vitamins, iron, and magnesium.
- It’s more filling than potato chips, inexpensive, and has a long shelf life.
These things are all true of popcorn prepared by traditional methods at home.
All popcorn is not created equal.
Popcorn at the movies, kettle corn, caramel, other flavored popcorn, and even homemade popcorn with a lot of salt and sugar can be a different matter altogether.
Prepared bags of popcorn from the grocery store, or microwave varieties, may or may not be healthy. It depends on the brand. Some have as much fat and salt as potato chips. They’re not as indulgent as movie theater popcorn, but you should read the labels and choose varieties that fit your healthy habits.
Plain air-popped popcorn is your healthiest option, but you can also mix it up. Here are some things you can add to popcorn:
- Grated cheese sprinkled on popcorn creates a tasty savory snack. A strong-flavored cheese like Parmesan works best.
- Add garlic powder, dried oregano, and a little red pepper for a pizza flavor.
- Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle on garlic and onion powders.
- Mix in curry powder and shredded coconut.
- Combine paprika with ground thyme, ground red pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder, or use a ready-made Cajun seasoning mix.
- A Vegan favorite, Nutritional Yeast flakes add a cheesy flavor and iron, fiber, and protein.
- Mix popcorn with nuts for more protein.
A bowl of broccoli florets could be a healthier snack, but popcorn might be more fun — and it’s still a healthy choice.