No movie night is complete without popcorn. The salty snack always satisfies, even if the flick earns a thumbs down.
Should we feel guilty indulging in this nostalgic favorite? Not really.
A whole grain, popcorn contains 3 grams of fiber per serving, which is about 3 cups.
Considering most people eat more than 3 cups at a time and the average American only gets 15 grams of the recommended 25-35 grams of fiber, munching popcorn is a good way to get our daily dose.
The crunchy snack also contains 3 grams of protein and small amounts of iron, magnesium, potassium, folate and vitamin A. It includes various phytonutrients, too, such as lutein and beta-carotene for eye health.
So where do we go wrong? The additives.
Prepared or microwave popcorn contains added oils like palm oil, butter and corn oil, as well as artificial flavorings and salt. And our favorite movie theater butter is not butter at all, but processed soybean oil with preservatives.
Processed or high-saturated fat content means these oils means can lead to heart disease and increased inflammation.
Make it healthy at home
Your best bet for healthy popcorn? Make your own.
Not only can you control the additives, but you can experiment with flavors. Also, buying unpopped kernels makes popcorn one of the most budget-friendly snacks.
You can make your own healthy popcorn in minutes. To microwave, simply place the kernels in a small paper bag and fold the top tight. Microwave as you would a store-bought variety.
You can also use an air-popper or make it on the stove, with a little oil in a pot with a lid.
For toppings, consider olive oil for its nutritional benefits. Specialty olive oil stores carry flavored options.
The real fun comes in varying the flavor with seasonings. Try combinations like cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika and allspice. Or a spicy medley of chili, cumin and cayenne. You can also use Italian seasonings or, my personal favorite, nutritional yeast.
Have fun bringing back this family favorite with less guilt.