Hidden health benefits of popcorn

Hungry but healthy Brits are now munching their way through tonnes of popcorn making it now one of the fastest growing savoury snacks on the market. UK consumers have been spending a whopping £3.3 billion a year on the popped corn snack with just a mere £1.6 billion being spent on alternative snacks. Could it be due to the news of popcorn’s healthy attributes along with it’s amazing taste that has sent the UK population flocking to companies such as Empire Popcorn Company in favour of grabbing the sugar filled sweet wrappers that line the local convenience shops counter?

The popcorn snack market has now grown as busy, if not busier, than most others as fast paced lifestyles now drive consumers away from three square meals a day and instead towards grab-and-go type foods and prepared snacks that can be eaten whether they’re sat at their desk working or enjoying the tight squeeze of the daily commute home. Despite the need for food that can be eaten at the drop of a hat, increasingly-health conscious consumers are opting for our favourite popped snack which is considered far less fattening than regular crisps, chocolate and biscuits. As a result of it’s newly discovered nutritional benefits, popcorn has virtually reinvented itself as a premium product rather than just the go to munch when enjoying a movie. Here at Empire Popcorn Company, we’ve been producing quality popcorn for over ten years and as a result, through hard work, the use of quality products and a lot of experimental flavouring, we’ve become one of the leading suppliers of popcorn in the whole of the UK. Our customers range from events management companies, to leisure centres and even your regular 2.4 family wanting a healthy and delicious snack for their Friday nights in.

When we talk about popcorn however we aren’t just talking about any old popcorn, we’re talking about gourmet popcorn. Gourmet popcorn truly has taken centre stage with people flocking toward the wonderful new flavours such as vanilla, hot madras and even sweet and spicy Jamaican. With this in mind, we have no need to question people’s motives for taste but statistics have also shown that people are flocking to our favourite light and fluffy snack because it’s considered healthy. It’s considered so healthy in fact that it’s now thought of as the perfect post workout snack, so just how healthy is it?

Hidden health benefits of popcorn

We guarantee when you’re finished reading this article, you’ll be ready to throw out the crisps, cookies and chocolate before reaching for your favourite bag of popcorn guilt free and why’s that? Well, it may have something to do with a large amount of evidence from recent studies showing that our favourite snack actually has a great number of health benefits. From whole grains to fibre, antioxidants to low fat content, this simple snack has it all. While smothering it in butter or chocolate may hinder those benefits a little, there are still a great number of flavourings you can enjoy, all in the knowledge that you’re feeding your body the good stuff it needs. Let’s look at those benefits a little closer shall we?

  • Whole Grains – whole grains are just that, the “whole” grain and that includes three different parts: the germ, the endosperm and the bran. The germ itself contains a number of healthy oils, vitamin E, protein, B vitamins and minerals. The bran contains the majority of the fibre as well as more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while the endosperm is made mostly of starch with a little fibre and protein. Due to popcorn being a natural whole grain, it therefore provides a number of healthy benefits that derive from the great number of nutrients it contains. A national survey even revealed that popcorn eaters ate on average around 250% more whole grains than those who didn’t eat popcorn.
  • Fibre – fibre is perhaps one of the major benefits of whole grains. Popcorn itself provides around 4 grams of dietary fibre with every four cups. With most of the population only consuming half of their actual daily recommended intake (some even fewer than this), it shows just how beneficial this snack can actually be. Ensuring you have an adequate fibre intake which is 25g for women and 38g for men, you can help to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, help reduce cholesterol in your blood and even lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by helping to regulate your blood sugar better.
  • Polyphenols – a study in 2012 found the antioxidant concentration within popcorn was actually much higher than originally thought. It was so much higher in fact, that the concentration of polyphenols within popcorn actually surpasses that within a lot of fruit. The nutrient in question was found within the hull of the popcorn, which meant popcorn without the hull wouldn’t contain this healthy ingredient. If you’re wondering what it is that polyphenols do exactly then you’ll be pleased to know that they actually help prevent a number of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes and even cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases.

Super healthy popcorn recipes

Most of you will no doubt associate popcorn with the movies. To head to the cinema and not enjoy your favourite popped corn snack is pretty much like heading to your local beach, putting on a swimsuit and sunscreen without actually taking a dip in the water. Popcorn is just part of the movie equation but that’s not to say it’s the only way to enjoy it. Popcorn is indeed irresistible perhaps because of its rather intoxicating aroma. It has a long history in the United States and with the emergence of gourmet flavoured popcorn, along with it’s numerous health benefits, it’s safe to say that it’s only getting more popular. With the huge amount of press coverage it’s now getting due to the health benefits it offers, people are inventing new and improved ways to enjoy it. Looking at it from a nutritional point of view, four cups of plain air popped popcorn contains 5g of fibre, just 122 calories and 4g of protein. On top of that it has a mere 1.4g of fat and 0.2g of saturated fat. On top of this it contains folic acid, magnesium, selenium and zinc. The problem with this however is the fact that plain air popped popcorn tends to taste…well a little tasteless. People want flavour and excitement, which is why they flock toward our fabulous gourmet flavoured popcorn.

For those who are on super strict nutritional plans such as athletes and fitness fanatics however, every single grain of food that passes their lips must be expertly measured and worked out. Every macronutrient requirement must be adhered to which is why a lot of them choose to purchase our quality raw kernels and pop their own popcorn at home. When it comes to making healthier popcorn at home, you have three options. You can air pop it and add a little butter or nice tasting margarine on top should you wish. You could even sprinkle a little cheese or Parmesan over it too. You could purchase our sweet popcorn and add a few chocolate chips if you’re looking for a chocolate fix that won’t set you back on your diet too much or you could pop it the old fashioned way, over a hob with a little oil in a heavy pan. If you choose to pop it yourself with oil then we suggest 1 tablespoon of oil for every half a cup of popcorn.

To keep things exciting if you’re going to air pop at home, then you’re going to need to think outside the box a little. Why not expand your options and instead of simply popping the kernels and sprinkling with a little sea salt (because let’s face it, you could just buy Empire Sea Salted Popcorn if you wanted to do that), why don’t you incorporate your popcorn into a trail mix using dried cranberries, roasted almonds and perhaps even a dusting of white chocolate powder? If that doesn’t float your boat, (perhaps you’re more of a savoury person) how does an Italian take on the usual buttered popcorn sound? To create this Mediterranean Magic Popcorn as it’s affectionately known you’ll of course need your popcorn kernels, a tablespoon of olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons of Italian seasoning blend and 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese. Pop your popcorn as you normally would either air-popped or in a large pan with a lid and oil. Once it’s popped, place into a large bowl that you’d like to enjoy it out of later. Drizzle over your olive oil and then simply sprinkle over your Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese. In between each ingredient we suggest tossing in order to stop the ingredients clumping together too much and encourage an even spread. You can also keep this in a sealable plastic bag and store for a maximum of two days.

If this all sounds too much like hard work then make things far easier on yourself and simply grab a tub or two of our freshly prepared gourmet flavoured popcorn. From Hot Madras Popcorn to fruity Lemon Popcorn, we have every flavour you could dream of. Contact us today for more information.

Source – Healthyeating.sfgate.com, Food, Healthy Eating, The Healthly Benefits of Popcorn