Popcorn has been a favorite snack food in America since the 1800s, when it was considered a marvel to see the kernels explode. Popcorn, which was typically enjoyed at circuses and fairs, wasn’t officially permitted in movie theaters until the 1930s (per Smithsonian Magazine). Although it’s difficult to picture seeing a movie without the buttery, salty tub, movie theaters didn’t permit the snack on their red carpets until the Great Depression in an effort to mimic real theaters.
By the middle of the 1930s, movie theaters are having trouble making ends meet. Cheap popcorn is credited with keeping them open. Popcorn’s status as the most popular snack was further established when a shortage of sugar during World War II prevented the production of candies and sodas. Food producers originally offered Americans “EZ Pop” and “Jiffy Pop” all-in-one stovetop popcorn poppers to imitate the flavor of movie theater popcorn. Bags of microwaveable popcorn made it even simpler to prepare at home during the 1970s, when microwaves started to appear in many kitchens.
Today, popcorn can be found at school lunches, sporting and entertainment events, and even home popcorn machines that resemble movie theaters. Unfortunately, according to Web MD, the majority of that popcorn has high levels of saturated fat and salt. Movie theater popcorn provides 1,500 milligrams of salt, which is the recommended daily allowance, and 400 to 1,200 calories. Is there a healthy way to eat this 100% whole grain snack when nine out of ten Americans (according the CDC) already consume too much sodium in their diets?
Consider air-popped popcorn.
Yes, popcorn may be eaten as a healthy snack if it is unsalted and air-popped, according to Brookell White, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant at MyFitnessPal. Water retention brought on by a high sodium diet can result in edema of the extremities, weight gain, and eventually high blood pressure. A diet heavy in sodium raises your risk for migraines, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stroke, kidney stones, and other ailments, according to the American Heart Association.
According to White, popcorn has 3.6 grams of dietary fiber, which is one-third of the portion of whole grains that adults and teenagers are advised to consume daily by the USDA and 15% of what people require on a daily basis. In its natural state, popcorn is a “cardioprotective nutrient” because it can lower LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation, all of which reduce your chance of developing heart disease, according to White (per National Library of Medicine).
White advises the snack packets of SkinnyPop, which have 100 calories per serving, if you can’t prepare popcorn at home (per Amazon). The USDA states that you can flavor your popcorn without using butter in a healthy way. Add some olive oil and herbs and spices, such as rosemary or smoked paprika, to the hot popcorn for a savory choice. To sate a sweet tooth, mix in with cinnamon and dark chocolate chips. Just use a little less salt.
Next, read this: You Should Eat Seven Nuts And Avoid Seven Others
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