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Popcorn: Delicious…and Now with More Antioxidants Than Fruit and Vegetables [Study]

popcorn, popcorn antioxidants

The Facts

Based on new research from the American Chemical Society (ACS) America’s favorite white, fluffy, movie-going snack — popcorn — might actually qualify as a health food.

According to the study by ACS, antioxidant levels in popcorn — compounds that protect the body against oxidative damage and free radicals, which cause premature aging and disease — are actually higher than in the average fruit and vegetable. One serving of popcorn contains up to 300 mg of polyphenols (a powerful antioxidant that’s extremely prevalent in wine & grapes); fruit averages 255 mg; veggies roll in at 218 mg on average.¹

Like dried fruit, polyphenols are much more concentrated in popcorn than in whole fruit. Whole fruit contains roughly 90% water, which dilutes antioxidant levels.

The good news gets even better —  ACS also found that popcorn is one of the only fully unprocessed whole grainsLead researcher Joe Vinson, Ph.D stated:

 “Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain. All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, and although cereals are called “whole grain,” this simply means that over 51 percent of the weight of the product is whole grain. 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, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way.”

Considering that most Americans severely lack many of the essential vitamins and minerals found in whole grains — including folate, the B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and calcium — dabbling in popcorn could help erase many of America’s dietary deficiencies. See the chart below for deficiency numbers, it’s honestly striking.²

Vitamin and mineral deficiency


My Take

Take a step back before crowning popcorn one of the kings of the antioxidant world. While popcorn has very respectable polyphenol content when compared with the average fruit & veggie, the antioxidant content in acai, blueberries, cranberries, nuts, spices, etc. is still MUCH higher.  Popcorn is extremely starchy and high in carbs, all of which digests relatively quickly and promotes body fat storage (popcorn has a glycemic index value of 55).

While I’m not ready to tout popcorn as a superfood, it can 100% serve as a healthy snack in any diet, especially in the place of candy, pizza, ice cream, chips and other nutritional land mines

*Very Important Note* This only applies to air-popped popcorn — not the microwave / movie theater stuff that’s LOADED with butter, trans fat, salt, and calories.


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Works Cited

1. American Chemical Society — Popcorn: The Snack with Even Higher Antioxidant Levels Than Fruits and Vegetables

2. Rejuvena — Top Nutrient Deficiencies in the United States


Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
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