Study: Popcorn packed with antioxidants
March 25th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

Study: Popcorn packed with antioxidants

Popcorn isn't just low in calories and high in fiber. Turns out the popular snack is chock full of antioxidants, too.

Per serving, plain popcorn contains nearly twice as many polyphenols as the average fruit, according to the preliminary results of a laboratory analysis presented today at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Polyphenols, a type of plant-based chemical found in foods ranging from vegetables to chocolate, help neutralize the harmful substances known as free radicals and are thought to protect against heart disease and other health problems.

Health.com: The 10 best foods for your heart

"Nobody had paid much attention to popcorn as a source of anything other than fiber," says lead researcher Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, which funded the study. "Popcorn has more antioxidants in total than other snack foods that you can consume, and it also has quite a bit of fiber."

Vinson and his colleagues analyzed four brands of commercially available popcorn. After grinding kernels (both popped and unpopped) into a fine powder, they separated out the polyphenols by adding a pair of solvents - a process that roughly mimics what happens in the stomach as food is digested, Vinson says.

A single serving of popcorn - about two tablespoons of unpopped kernels - contained up to 300 milligrams of polyphenols, the researchers found. By contrast, the average polyphenol content of fruit is about 160 milligrams per serving, while a single serving of sweet corn contains 114 milligrams.

Health.com: Superfoods you need now

Some types of polyphenols are pigments, and in fruit the biggest concentrations tend to be found in the skin and seeds. Similarly, the hull or outer skin of the corn kernel - the stuff that gets stuck in your teeth when you're munching away - was the richest polyphenol source.

"That's where the antioxidants are, that's where the fiber is," Vinson says. "You shouldn't throw that out."

The findings don't mean that popcorn should replace apples and oranges in your diet, of course.

"Popcorn is no substitute for fruit," says Michael G. Coco, an undergraduate chemistry student at the university who participated in the study. "Fruits have other vitamins and minerals that popcorn does not contain."

However, the findings do suggest that popcorn is a healthy alternative to snacks such as chips and crackers. In addition to the polyphenols and low calorie content, popcorn is 100% whole grain, Vinson and Coco point out. Eating more whole grains has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Health.com: Whole grain fiber linked to longer life

"This is great news in terms of getting other whole grains in your diet," says Carolyn Brown, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at FoodTrainers, in New York City. "We're always trying to diversify. Everyone's kind of stuck in this wheat rut."

But popcorn isn't always healthy, Brown adds. Movie-theater popcorn drenched in butter is the opposite of a health food, she says, and some microwave and pre-popped varieties contain artificial or less-than-healthy ingredients - such as partially hydrogenated oils - that shoppers should be mindful of.

"Not all popcorn is created equal, and you can get some nasty stuff in there, especially with the microwave popcorn."

Health.com: 25 diet-busting foods you should never eat

The healthiest way to prepare popcorn is to use plain kernels in a stove-top popper (such as a Whirley Top) or air-popper, Brown says. Adding a little olive oil or butter is fine, she adds, and popcorn can also be jazzed up with a sprinkling of low- or no-calorie flavorings such as parmesan cheese or chili pepper.

The American Chemical Society is a professional organization for chemists and scientists. Unlike the research published in scientific journals, Vinson's findings have not been thoroughly vetted by other experts in the field.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

soundoff (867 Responses)
  1. indian restaurant near me


    June 18, 2021 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Parthenia Kallaher

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs


    June 18, 2021 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. general home contractors near me


    June 18, 2021 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Camper Repair Near Me

    After looking into a number of the blog articles on your website, I seriously appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my web site too and tell me how you feel.


    June 18, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Nearby RV Repair

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Well written!


    June 18, 2021 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Camper Repair Near Me


    June 18, 2021 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    Howdy! I could have sworn Iíve been to this blog before but after looking at some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím definitely happy I came across it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


    June 18, 2021 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repairs Nearby

    Good post. I absolutely love this website. Thanks!


    June 18, 2021 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. urologist near me

    Right here is the right website for everyone who hopes to find out about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually will need toÖHaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic that's been discussed for decades. Excellent stuff, just great!


    June 18, 2021 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Repair California


    June 19, 2021 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Repair California


    June 19, 2021 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Camper Repair Near Me

    Everyone loves it when individuals come together and share thoughts. Great website, keep it up!


    June 19, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 19, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Very well written!


    June 19, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. wells fargo atm near me


    June 19, 2021 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 19, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. napa near me


    June 19, 2021 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Camper Repair Places Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa


    June 19, 2021 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ramen near me

    There is certainly a great deal to learn about this issue. I really like all of the points you have made.


    June 19, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Repair Huntington Beach

    Hello there! This blog post could not be written any better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this information to him. Fairly certain he's going to have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 19, 2021 at 21:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Local Marketing Services

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit once again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    June 20, 2021 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Google Marketing Consultant


    June 20, 2021 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Digital Marketing Specialists


    June 20, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. SEO Marketing Service


    June 20, 2021 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Content Marketing Near Me

    Good post. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well..


    June 20, 2021 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Myrtice Orio

    This page really has all of the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 20, 2021 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Talia Warne

    After looking at a handful of the blog articles on your blog, I seriously like your technique of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my website too and tell me what you think.


    June 20, 2021 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Maximo Trinks


    June 20, 2021 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Rosemary Sutera


    June 20, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Virgil Vidaca


    June 20, 2021 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. wawa near me

    Right here is the right blog for anybody who wants to understand this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject which has been discussed for many years. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!


    June 20, 2021 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Repair Shops Near Me


    June 20, 2021 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Seal Beach


    June 21, 2021 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. ymca near me

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful websites on the internet. I am going to recommend this website!


    June 21, 2021 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. qt near me

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 21, 2021 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. quest diagnostics near me

    Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will revisit once again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    June 21, 2021 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. tire shop near me


    June 21, 2021 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Repair San Clemente California

    There is certainly a lot to know about this topic. I love all the points you made.


    June 21, 2021 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Camper Repair Shops Near Me


    June 21, 2021 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Joelle Panagoulias

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs


    June 21, 2021 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. longhorn steakhouse near me


    June 21, 2021 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Furnace Repair Near Me


    June 21, 2021 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Fridge Repair Near Me

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that make the most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    June 21, 2021 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. supermarket near me

    Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back yet again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    June 21, 2021 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Maurice Zuckerwar

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl articles and blogs


    June 21, 2021 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Mee

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner because I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your blog.


    June 22, 2021 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. online leadership training


    June 22, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Upgrades Shop

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 22, 2021 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Repair Around Me


    June 22, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.