Who would not love to unwind on a Friday night with a terrific movie and a huge bowl of fluffy popcorn? If prepared with the correct ingredients, popcorn is low in calories and surprisingly chock-full of healthy nutrients. This crunchy snack contains more antioxidants than what is carried by fruits and vegetables.
Popcorn is enjoyed around the world, in about every place where normal corn is consumed. It might seem like just a delicious snack for movie theaters and comfy nights at home. But, there are numerous health benefits associated with this air-pooped food. However, the health aspect of this delicious snack begins to deteriorate as soon as salt, butter or other flavorings are added. These flavorings take it into the realm of unhealthy junk food.Alternatively, if popcorn is eaten plain, it is not only delicious, but also a healthy and beneficial snack not only for adults but for kids as well.
The History of Popcorn
Corn, considered as a grain as well as a vegetable, possesses a rich history dating back to ancient times. It was a staple in the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca civilizations. These are just a few of the most famous and oldest civilizations to consume corn.
Popcorn is a simple type of corn with a hard endosperm, shell, or hull that contains a starchy interior. There are historical evidences that popcorn has been enjoyed by various cultures for thousands of years. This is because of maize being an important part of numerous cultural diets in ancient times. Popcorn can also be availed in different colors, if different color corn kernels are used.
Popcorn tops the list of most commonly consumed grains around the world. Furthermore, it makes a significant contributor to the grain and fiber intake of the average people around the world. Besides being a high fiber food, it also contains essential antioxidants that protect and maintain cell health. Moreover, popcorn doesn’t contain saturated or trans fats, something really bad for your child’s health.
When Can I give Popcorn to my Child?
It is not advised to give popcorn to small babies. With its sharp edges and kernel flakes, popcorn is one of those food items that can even get caught in an adult’s throat, leading to choking and gagging.
Avoid giving popcorn to your child until the age of 4 years. Until then, your child is not able to grind food down into pieces small enough to prevent choking.
Health Benefits of Popcorn for Children
Digestion: As is known that popcorn is a whole grain and this is a designation for grains comprising germ, endosperm, and bran. This is somewhat similar to whole grain cereals, rice, and breads that are also loaded with all three of these essential parts. Just like other whole grains, popcorns contain all the fiber from bran along with essential vitamins and minerals. When we talk about digestion, the high fiber content keeps the body regular by maintaining smooth and quick bowel movements through the digestive tract thus avoiding conditions like constipation. Fiber has the quality to stimulate peristaltic motion of the smooth intestinal muscles and stimulate the secretion of digestive juices. Both of these activities help to maintain the health of entire digestive system.
Protein: Corn is packed with vitamins, especially B-vitamins, including vitamin B3, B6, folate and pantothenic acid. As is known, B-vitamins are essential to regulate the bodily processes across multiple systems. Furthermore, vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is known for its potential to relieve conditions like depression.
Whole Grain Fiber: Corns being whole grain are packed with dietary fiber. Furthermore, these are also rich in complex carbohydrates while being low in fat, thus making popcorns way better snack than ever. Instead of adding butter and salt, let it be plain to retain the health benefits of this delicious snack.
Carotenoid Antioxidants: Popcorns are loaded with carotenoid antioxidants, like zeaxanthin and lutein. These antioxidants help protect eye health and also guard against macular degeneration.
Calcium: Popcorn provides good quantity of calcium, although not as much as provided by milk. However, the amount is good enough for those who want to increase the calcium intake by their kids. It’s good to know that popcorn has this crucial healthy item.
Iron: Popcorn contains more iron than other sources like roast beef, eggs, milk, or codfish. Therefore, eating a few handfuls of popcorn can provide benefits equally good as having a roast beef sandwich or drinking a glass of milk.
Essential Minerals: Popcorns are also loaded with essential minerals like manganese and phosphorous. Both these minerals are known to maintain healthy bones. Furthermore, these minerals are also crucial for healthy functioning of cells.
Low Calories: A cup of unbuttered popcorns carries just 25-55 calories. This is something good for your teenage child. Moreover, it is also good to avoid childhood obesity, a common problem faced by all parents. This is because the dietary fiber present in popcorn keeps the child full while inhibiting the release of the hunger hormone. This further prevents overeating and helps maintain healthy weight without making your child feel starved. Furthermore, popcorn is also low in saturated fats, and the natural oils are primarily healthy and essential for your child’s body.
A Word of Precaution
When you introduce your child to popcorn, make sure that he eats only the fluffy stuff. Un-popped or half-popped corns can get caught in your child’s throat and block the airway.
Furthermore, although popcorn seems like a healthy snack, majority of people douse it in butter, salt, and other toppings that alleviate the nutritional value of the food. Also, avoid giving pre-packaged or microwave popcorn to your child.
The health benefits of popcorn are derived primarily from the impressive content of antioxidants, polyphenolic compounds, fiber, manganese, magnesium, vitamin B complex. Let’s have a look at the nutritional value and major contents of this healthy and delicious snack.
Serving Size – 1 cup (228 grams)
Serving Per Container – 2
|Amount per Serving|
Calories – 250
Calories from Fat – 110
|% Daily Value|
|Total Fat 12gms|
Saturated Fat 3 grams
Trans Fat 1.5 grams
|Cholesterol 30 mg||10%|
|Sodium 470 mg||20%|
|Total Carbohydrate 31 mg|
Dietary Fiber 0 grams
Sugars 5 grams
|Protein 5 grams|