Popcorn is one of the most antioxidant-dense snacks known. Recent research shows that plain, air-popped popcorn is a genuine health food, rich in the antioxidant substances known as “polyphenols.” A chemistry team at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania reported in 2012 that a single, one-ounce serving of popcorn contains nearly twice as many polyphenol antioxidants as a comparable amount of either fruits or vegetables. [“Popcorn Study Puts Scranton Faculty Member and Student in National Spotlight”. University of Scranton]
The reason lies partly in the higher relative concentration of popcorn’s polyphenols. While fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, the beneficial molecules are diluted by a much greater proportion of water–up to ninety percent. In popcorn, which is less than five percent water, antioxidants occur extremely densely. The little hulls that tend to get stuck in your teeth contain the highest concentration of polyphenols.
Antioxidants in Unprocessed Whole Grain
Popcorn is rich in polyphenols because it is the only 100 percent unprocessed whole grain snack. Whole grains have been identified as a significant source of antioxidants. A single serving of popcorn provides at least seventy percent of your recommended daily intake for whole grains. Popcorn is thus a simple and easy way to help fulfill daily grain requirements in a way that helps slow disease and aging.
How Popcorn Helps Counter Disease
Polyphenols are healthful molecules that inhibit the destruction of healthy cells by “free radicals”–highly reactive molecules that can seriously damage proteins, genetic material and other important macromolecules. Free radicals may lead to premature aging, cancers and heart disease, among other conditions. Antioxidant compounds help control free radicals by neutralizing them before they can do damage. Because it is rich in the antioxidants that protect the body’s tissues from free radicals, eating popcorn is a surprisingly effective way to counter harmful toxins and ward off poor health in the long run.