Popcorn, the Healthy Food with a Bad Rap

Popcorn has always been one of those forbidden foods that most people try to avoid. However, popcorn can actually be a healthy snack and it taste great too! Popcorn is a whole grain, which means it contains a good amount of fiber and is a healthier alternative to those low-nutrient, fatty, salty snacks, such as chips and cheese puffs. Plain popcorn is naturally low in sodium and fat and a great choice for you and your kids. Keep in mind, not all popcorn is created equal. Many popcorn products are loaded with extra salt, oil, sugar and artificial ingredients that can reduce their nutritional quality. Good news is there are many delicious types of popcorn in a variety of flavors that can fit within your healthy eating habits. Things to look for when shopping for popcorn…

  • Keep it simple- check the ingredients list and choose popcorn with very few ingredients, such as oil and salt only. Stay away from partially hydrogenated oils, which will be listed under ingredients.
  • Check serving size- Depending on which popcorn you buy, serving sizes can be anywhere from ½ cup to 4 cups. Make sure you aren’t doubling or tripling up on calories, fat and sodium.
  • Make your own- Try making your own popcorn since this is the best way to control for added ingredients. Air poppers are great because they add no extra fat. When making your own, choose a small amount of healthy oils, such as olive or canola and add only a sprinkle of salt if needed.
  • Add seasonings- Try adding cinnamon, cayenne pepper or your favorite spice-herb mixture to add flavor rather than sodium.