Popcorn is good for your heart

Now, here’s some good news for a Monday morning: all that popcorn you guzzled over the weekend could have been doing you the power of good.

It’s long been known that red wine contains antioxidants, thought to help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of ‘good’ cholesterol and protecting against artery damage – and now it appears that the popcorn you eat with it does too.

Indeed, says a team from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, it has more of the beneficial polyphenols than fruit and vegetables, largely because it contains so much less water. It’s the same reason that dried fruits hold more polyphenols than fresh ones.

It’s the hulls of the popcorn – the bits that get stuck between your teeth – that appear to hold the most, says Dr Joe Vinson.

“Those hulls deserve more respect,” he says. “They are nutritional gold nuggets.”

Up to 300 mg of polyphenols were found in a serving of popcorn, compared with 114 mg for a serving of sweet corn and 160 mg for all fruits. One serving of popcorn would provide 13 percent of an average intake of polyphenols a day per person in the US.

Naturally, it’s not a good idea to slather the popcorn in butter or oil. Air-popped is best, with oil doubling the number of calories.

“Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain,” says Vinson.

“All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, and although cereals are called ‘whole grain’, this simply means that over 51 percent of the weight of the product is whole grain.”

And he’s not paid by a popcorn manufacturer. We’ve checked.