Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Say yes to popcorn!

by:  Tara Fuller

Corn has developed quite a bad rap in recent years; but is all corn bad? Absolutely not! Not all corn is made equal. Popcorn for instance, a whole-grain food can be ideal for quick and healthy snacks. And why shouldn’t it be? At just 30 calories and 2 grams of dietary fiber per one-cup serving, it’s a lot of bang for your calorie.

For dieters, eating fiber rich whole-grains is essential for successful weight-loss. Fiber helps slow digestion, meaning you feel fuller longer, unlike high-glycemic carbohydrates which quickly turn to sugar after consumption, leaving a person feeling tired and craving sugar.  Instead, low-glycemic carbohydrates provide the body with lots of slow-releasing energy so you won’t find yourself running to the kitchen for a quick sugar fix.  Furthermore, studies show diets plentiful in whole grains such as popcorn may reduce risks of heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity. 

According to The American Dietetic Association, Americans are only getting about half of the daily recommended 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day.  So go ahead, have popcorn, have lots of popcorn!  Just be mindful of what you put on it.  A tablespoon of butter or oil will add 120 calories; and a teaspoon of salt adds 2,400 mg of sodium.  However, if like me you won't be satisfied with dry popcorn, there are healthier alternatives.

1)  Coconut and olive oils are heart-healthy; and coconut oil may be sweet enough to curb a sugar craving.

2)  Try spicing it up:  Cinnamon, cumin, oregano, pepper, garlic and onion powders all have nutritional health components and contain zero calories.

3)  For a sweet treat:  Drizzle popcorn with a tad of 100-percent pure Maple Syrup or Honey.  Honey is twice as sweet as sugar so you will use less of it and therefore, consume fewer calories had you used sugar.  Plus, incorporating honey into your diet provides a multitude of health benefits:  Boost immunity, fight bacteria and allergy relief.   

4)  For an extra kick:  Add a couple teaspoons of Craisins, a teaspoon of sunflower seeds and six to eight heart healthy nuts such as walnuts, pistachio or almonds for a super charged, fiber rich, protein filled snack that will keep you going between meals.

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