Monday, March 26, 2012

Mmm Mmm Monday: Popcorn

A new study at the University of Scranton has found that popcorn contains more polyphenol antioxidants than fruits and vegetables.

"The new study found that the amount 
of polyphenols found in popcorn was up 
to 300 mg a serving compared to 114 mg 
for a serving of sweet corn and 160 mg 
for all fruits per serving."

What does that mean?
Let's break it down.  Polyphenol refers to an organic compound.  Poly meaning many and phenol referring to any compound which contains a six-membered aromatic ring bonded to a hydroxyl group.  

Got that?
The chemical formula for phenol is C6H5OH.  So there are 6 Carbon atoms in a ring where at 5 points there is a Hydrogen atom bonded, but at the sixth Carbon atom there is a sneaky Oxygen attached to the Carbon and the sixth Hydrogen.  This is the hydroxyl group. 

Where are you going with this?

Okay, now we know the chemical structure of what we're talking about.  Remember that sneaky Oxygen that swooped in and bonded with the Carbon?  Let's look at the next word in our phrase: antioxident.  

"Various reactive oxygen species, such as singlet oxygen, peroxynitrite and hydrogen peroxide, must be continually removed from cells to maintain healthy metabolic function." - Wikipedia

As the polyphenol antioxidant breaks down, the oxygen will bond with free radicals in our system, providing the extra electron needed to neutralize the unstable molecule. 

Sound awesome?

It is!  "One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day..."

Don't grab that butter just yet though!

To get the true health benefits of popcorn, it has to be air-popped with no topping.  "About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself." 

It is also important to note that popcorn will not replace fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet.  These have essential vitamins that popcorn cannot replace.  

So treat yourself to a Hot Air Popcorn Maker to put a little variety in your healthy snacks, but remember: everything in moderation.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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