LSU AgCenter Nutrition Expert Endorses Popcorn

Catrinel Stanciu  |  4/19/2005 10:28:28 PM

Popcorn graphic

Did you know that popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks, as long as it is not drenched in oil, butter or salt? asks LSU AgCenter food and nutrition expert Catrinel Stanciu. She offers some facts about popcorn in observance of October as National Popcorn Month.

Americans eat about 59 quarts per year, per person, more than anybody else in the world. Why? Stanciu says because it is a tasty, wholesome, economical food, which is very affordable and easily available.

Popcorn is popular with all age groups, although it is not recommended for infants and toddlers, because of the choking risk. Some people think that popcorn is not a healthy food, which is not true.

"What makes popcorn unhealthy is the butter and salt that we pour on it," the nutrition expert says, suggesting, "For a healthier choice, try onion or garlic powder or reduced-fat grated cheese."

Plain popcorn is an excellent, whole-grain, high fiber snack (about 1 g fiber for 1 cup). That means it will make you feel full longer. Compared with other snack foods, popcorn is low in calories (only 30 calories per 1 cup of air-popped popcorn). Oil and butter may add up to 90 calories per cup of popcorn.

You can buy a large variety of popcorn, with different flavors and also different amounts of calories and fat. For healthy choices, look for "air-popped" or "lite" varieties. In general, it’s healthier to air-pop your popcorn at home and season it. If you make your own popcorn and not use the microwave varieties, make sure you store the un-popped corn in an airtight container and not in the refrigerator.

Several health organizations, including the American Dietetic Association (ADA), recommend popcorn as a healthy snack. Popcorn is a good choice when you’re in a hurry and just need to grab something and go. Also, it’s a good idea to keep microwave popcorn at your office, for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.

"And remember, healthy snacks are part of a healthy diet!" Stanciu says.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
On the Internet: Popcorn Board:
On the Internet: American Dietetic Association (ADA):
Source: Catrinel Stanciu (225) 578-3329, or

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