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Popcorn: good or bad for your health?

Credits: Flickr

Whether it’s at the cinema or at home, popcorn is a popular snack the world over. So is it good for our health? In reality, it all depends on which type of popcorn you choose, and how it is prepared. 

Popcorn comes from American Indian culture, in which it was first prepared in the 17th century! Since then, it has become a cinema staple, and is often advertised as being beneficial for your health.

However, popcorn is regularly accused of being responsible for the increase in the levels of amyloid beta proteins in the brain, which contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, the diecetyl it contains could damage the respiratory passages and lead to lung diseases.

So first of all let’s have a look at the various varieties of industrially produced popcorn. Bags of popcorn you buy ready made contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a known carcinogenic and a possible endocrine disruptor. According to a Danish study in 2009, this could have a negative effect on the production of sperm, and equally impact on female fertility.

For microwave popcorn, we face the question of hydrogenated oils, or transformed vegetable oils. In large quantities, these oils can block the arteries and lead to heart disease.

So that’s the negative side of popcorn, which is due to industrial processing. So what about home made popcorn? This could be a healthy option, as long as the popcorn isn’t drowned in butter and salt. It is also better to prepare it in a hot-air style popcorn maker. In any case, making your popcorn yourself avoids problems caused by packaging or chemical products.

When popcorn is prepared in the right conditions, it has certain interesting nutritional qualities. In fact, 100g could provide up to 56% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium and 36% of your daily phosphorous, as well as copper, zinc and vitamins B3 and B6. Popcorn equally contains endosperm, which can reduce cholesterol and promote heart health. It also contains fibre and antioxidants which are essential for our body’s functioning.

Sources : ConsoGlobeReally Local Harvest