It is highly recommended to enjoy your whole grains separately from other foods. The body will absorb the nutrients more efficiently due to the phytic acid present in whole grains, seeds and nuts.
Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus found in many plants, especially in the bran or hull of grains and in nuts and seeds. Although herbivores like cows and sheep can digest phytic acid, humans can’t. This is bad news because phytic acid binds to minerals (especially iron and zinc) in food and prevents us from absorbing them. Studies suggest that we absorb approximately 20 percent more zinc and 60 percent more magnesium from our food when phytic acid is absent. It’s important to note that phytic acid does not leach minerals that are already stored in the body; it only inhibits the absorption of minerals from food in which phytic acid is present.
Phytic acid interferes with enzymes we need to digest our food, including pepsin, which is needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, which is required for the breakdown of starch. Phytic acid also inhibits the enzyme trypsin, which is needed for protein digestion in the small intestine.
Although I wouldn’t rush to say popcorn is a “super food” – scientists have found an abundance of an antioxidant substance called “polyphenols” within this popular snack food.
Polyphenols are antioxidants. This means they assist in addressing and reversing the problems caused by oxidative stress to the walls of arteries (the problems themselves which are caused by activities like overeating), create a heart-healthy environment by curbing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (which stops the potential for atherosclerosis), and they help relieve chronic pain, as seen in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s thought there are about 8,000 polyphenols. However, not all of them have these particular properties. This is why your source of polyphenols is important.
It should be noted that scientific understanding of the effects of polyphenols on the human body is in its infancy.
This is mostly due to the difficulty in isolating particular polyphenols for use in controlled trials. But, new evidence for the efficacy of polyphenols in healthy living is being found all the time.
The only question, then, is what are the “best” polyphenols and their highest aggregate sources?
As for the best, many are known to have explicit health benefits. You may have seen news reports on resveratrol, a polyphenol in dark fruits and organic wine, which seems to have the ability to mimic the effects of caloric restriction, slowing aging and negative cardiovascular events.
Then, there’s the polyphenol quercetin from onions, green tea and citrus fruits, which is known to alleviate allergies and asthma.
Unsweetened cacao is high on the list. Also high on the list are dark berries like blueberries, and beans like the pinto bean.
There is also evidence that the body rejects polyphenols, specifically a sub-branch called flavonoids, which may mean polyphenols act as a catalyst rather than the cause for the aforementioned health benefits. Regardless, polyphenols do garner these beneficial effects.
Also, fresh fruits and vegetables are the best sources of polyphenols and nutrients.
Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a pioneer in analyzing healthful components in cacao, nuts and other foods, stated that the polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn, because the water content makes up only 4 percent, while the polyphenols in fruit are diluted by about 90 percent of its water content.
In addition, the hulls of popcorn – you know that part that gets stuck between your teeth – has the highest concentrations of both polyphenols and fiber. Dr. Vinson said, “Those hulls deserve more respect,” and he further stated, “They are nutritional gold nuggets.”
Polyphenols have been linked to a reduction in heart disease and certain cancers.
Popcorn testing has some surprising results
Recent studies find that the amount of polyphenols in popcorn was up to 300 mg a serving compared to 114mg for sweet corn and 160 mg for all fruits per serving. The levels of polyphenols rivaled those in nuts and were up to 15 times greater than whole grain tortilla chips.
Dr. Vinson also pointed out that “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 the gap in a very pleasant way.”
Popcorn may not have all the essential vitamins and minerals of fruit and vegetables, but as one of the most popular snack foods in the world – it is nice to know it can significantly add to the dietary intake of polyphenols.
Popcorn is a nutritional success story
Popcorn is a dieter’s delight, in calories it comes in at about 108 for a 3½ cup serving. This is impressive since you are getting more than calories; it also provides 10% of your requirement for magnesium.
It is an original “go lean” food for those on weight control plans. There is flexibility to the type of condiments that can be added for flavor such as: high-quality sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder, or just about any dried (organic) herb. Increasing the nutrition power of popcorn doesn’t mean you have to add a whole lot of calories.
Anything from brewer’s yeast to some grass fed dairy butter is used by some health-minded people. Naturally, all of these suggestions are based on plain, air-popped organic kernels.
When Popcorn isn’t really healthy
The trendy use of popcorn including kettle corn, movie popcorn, and chocolate dipped pieces are not in the public interest or a landmine of nutrition. Cineplex popcorn runs from 780 to 1100 plus calories of artery clogging, waistline expanding frankenfood.
Microwave popcorn has been linked to lung disease in factory workers from the exposure of a chemical know as diacetyl which is used to produce the buttery flavors, and consumers who eat very large amounts put themselves at risk.
Anything that negatively changes a healthy nutritious food into a chemically processed one is a threat to our health. Buying plain organic popcorn either from a bulk container or in packaging from an outstanding natural food company is the best way to ensure you are getting all the goodness of the kernels.
Cooking with Coconut oil in a pot on the stove may be the best way to consume popcorn.
Corn is fairly low in phytic acid so popcorn in moderation is probably fine. Also, when it is eaten with saturated fats like coconut oil, it helps mitigate the effects of phytic acid.