New Castle News

Healthy Living: Lori Brothers

March 28, 2012

Lori Brothers: Love popcorn? Cut the butter

NEW CASTLE — A few years back my Dad bought a Whirl-Pop popcorn maker for my household for Christmas.

It was the kind you use on the stovetop with a little handle you twirl to keep the popcorn from burning on the bottom of the pan. The only thing that would have been better would have been an air-pop popcorn maker, then there’s no fat from oil at all.

We eat a lot of popcorn in my household. We like the Whirl-Pop much better than microwaving. I just add a little sea salt, or garlic salt, and we start munching.

Do you know that if you are a popcorn eater, you are probably consuming more than twice as many whole grains as people who don’t eat popcorn. When it comes to whole grains, “popcorn” is actually recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as its own category of whole grain.

In the Dairy Guidelines for Americans, outlined by the American Dietetic Association, popcorn is number four on the “most commonly consumed” grain list. The top three whole grains consumed by Americans are whole wheat, whole oats and whole-grain corn.

Three cups of popped popcorn (a serving size) is equivalent to a one-ounce serving of grain. USDA recommendations for adults is five to eight ounces of whole grains per day. That could add up to a lot of popcorn (Certain health issues may not allow for popcorn consumption, so know your own digestive system.)

I suggest you consider replacing processed snacks, such as potato chips, corn chips, pretzels with popcorn, unless you are choosing to eat a low-fat whole grain cracker, or whole wheat pretzels, popcorn is one of the smartest snacks you can choose.

Besides that, it is a high fiber snack, popcorn also has protective antioxidants and trace amounts of B vitamins, magnese, phosphorus, zinc, copper and iron. Watch what you put on your popcorn, however. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “Eating only a medium-sized movie-theater popcorn is the equivalent of consuming three large burgers topped with 12 servings of butter.”

So, popcorn eaters beware and be wise. Cut the butter out. I found some creative, healthier ways to include popcorn to add some fiber to your diet. Even if you just choose to use the microwave varieties for simple healthy munching, make sure you pop the low-fat versions.

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Healthy Living: Lori Brothers
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