The Whole Truth About The Kernel

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – Popcorn is making a big comeback. From “skinny” to kettle corn, new varieties and flavors have been popping up on grocery store shelves.

“Popcorn is coming back and being advertised as a healthy snack, which is very true, but it can be misleading,” said Ellen Petrosyan, a registered dietitian with Parkland Health and Hospital System.

She says you can’t go wrong with air-popped kernels. You can use a hot air popper, or an inexpensive microwave safe popper. No oil is required. The recommended three cups serving size offers a lot to snack on.

“Popcorn in its pure, air-popped kernel form –is a healthy snack without any additives. It has a lot of minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B,” said Petrosyan.

Though it’s no substitute for produce, research suggests that the food has more antioxidants called polyphenols than even fruits and vegetables.

It’s the add-ons that can really take your popcorn from a smart snack, to a diet-buster. It is why you should carefully scan a product’s nutrition facts label, as well as the ingredients list.

Petrosyan says to avoid products with trans fats which often come in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. Choose brands that are unprocessed, or minimally processed.

You should also check for sodium and added sugar content.

“Popcorns that have sweet flavors, like caramel corn or kettle corn have high amounts of sugar,” she said.

Experts agree movie theater popcorn is among the worst options. A large tub can contain as many as 20 cups of popcorn, and 1,200 hundred calories. That’s without even pumping in the butter.

But popcorn doesn’t have to be boring. Get creative with good-for-you ingredients.

“Sprinkle in a little olive oil or a little sea salt just to add a little flavor. You can grate some parmesan cheese to give some flavor to it,” Petrosyan said.

You can also season with a little yeast to give your snack a cheese flavor, without the added calories.

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