Popcorn is healthy. Or unhealthy… even dangerous, all depending on how it’s done.
Popcorn kernels are always non-GMO, fiber-rich whole grains. If you like eating popcorn at night, I have good news. Corn kernels contain the amino acid tryptophan which can boost serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter. Because it can even help us have a good sleep by producing melatonin, the evening is my favorite time to eat foods rich in tryptophan. This amino acid gets into our brain most easily when we eat carbs without protein, making popcorn a good evening snack.
Of course, popcorn is often covered with multiple pumps of golden liquid at the theater, and there is certainly room for improvement there. It's often soybean oil that's been colored and flavored; each tablespoon can contain about 130 calories.
Microwave popcorn is notoriously unhealthy with its fake buttery flavor, really made of trans fats. Inhaling the fumes from artificial butter has been linked to lung damage and a rare type of lung disease that can only be remedied with a lung transplant!
What to Do
The key to healthy popcorn is popping the kernels from scratch yourself. You can even use organic popcorn kernels. Whether in an air popper or on the stovetop, you control the quality and quantity of the toppings. When using the stovetop method, be sure to use a heat-tolerant fat and turn on the range hood fan.
There are endless delicious and healthy possibilities. Those who have tried the famous Udo’s Oil popcorn know that popcorn with omegas in place of butter can be delicious! We like popcorn topped with Salus Red Beet Crystals and nutritional yeast; herbs, parmesan, garlic powder, even a few shakes of rice seasoning are other great options for jazzing up your popcorn.
We have three new craveable popcorn recipes for you here. A caveat: I know these can be addictive, but popcorn eaters are advised to get their fiber from a variety of foods. Try to feed those nice gut bugs in your microbiome a little something other than popcorn. They would love some greens and other produce occasionally!
Healthy Popcorn – Three Ways
Coconut Curry Popcorn
Drizzle popped corn with Udo’s Oil Omega 3+6+9 Blend and toss. Sprinkle with curry spice blend and salt and toss again to coat. Sprinkle shredded coconut over top and serve.
For a more sweet and spicy contrast, use sweetened coconut. For more heat, use a hot curry blend.
Berry Good Popcorn
Coat dry popcorn in Manuka Honey. Sprinkle with Elderberry Crystals and enjoy. We massaged 1 teaspoon of Flora Manuka Honey onto 4 cups of popped corn and used 1 scoop of Elderberry Crystals.
Cinnamon Bun Popcorn
This recipe might remind you of cinnamon toast or your favorite childhood cereal. It provides some of the sweet enjoyment of caramel corn but skips refined sugar, butter, and GMO corn syrup.
Coat dry popped corn in a small amount of honey. We used 1/2 teaspoon of Manuka Honey for 2 cups of popcorn. Dust with cinnamon and toss with pecan pieces.
Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP, NNCP, is a Vancouver-based educator and coach. She is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog and can answer your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Product Information Specialist at Flora.