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Is Popcorn Healthy? 5 Ways to Keep Popcorn Healthy

Is Popcorn Healthy? 5 Ways to Keep Popcorn Healthy

Cinema goers know all about the legendary kernel, which when heated forms into fluffy popcorn for a tasty, readily consumable snack. Without the familiar smell as you walk into your local cinema, the whole experience just wouldn’t be the same. Although it has evolved over the years into a modern luxury, popcorn is actually an ancient dish. Archaeologists and scientists from the Natural History Museum in Washington have discovered evidence maize had been domesticated 9000 years ago in Mexico, and that it was being popped 7000 years ago in Peru.

These days, when you scan the shelves of a supermarket, you will be confronted with an impressive selection; butter, toffee, salt, and sweetened flavours are all mass produced and readily available. The phenomenon is mirroring what happened to crisps around a decade ago, when the salty snack became chunky, exotic, and gentrified. The public never looked back, and gained a lot of weight as a result. With popcorn now a mass produced commodity there are some unpleasant health effects unwary shoppers may have missed. Popcorn is, however, a very healthy snack, and to exploit this all you need are the facts. This handy five step guide will help you pop those kernels the right way.

1. Popcorn may be healthier than fruit and vegetables.

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popcorn

    Is popcorn healthy? The answer, not including commercially distributed popcorn, is almost certainly a “YES!” In its purest sense popcorn is very close to nature; if it’s dry popped in hot air there are no oils, fats or sugars added to it – what you eat is simply the inside of the kernel after a little physical manipulation. And the facts speak for themselves: a single portion of popcorn contains more antioxidants than all the fruit and veg most people eat in a day, as noted in a study by Scranton University. Antioxidants keep molecules harmful to cells in check, and are present in many fresh fruits and vegetables. Popcorn also has a large amount of vitamins; folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamins B, A, E, and K, as well as being a source of iron, potassium, zinc, and polyphenols which contain the antioxidants to fight off cancers and cardiovascular health problems.

    To add to this, after a search on Calorie Count, a single cup (25 g) of air-popped corn has a mere 31 calories, with 0.3 g of fats (0.03 g saturated, 0.16 g polyunsaturated, 0.1 g monounsaturated). Popped in oil, however, the values above can roughly be tripled, but compared to a pack of salted sunflower-oil-fried crisps, popcorn’s attraction suddenly becomes apparent: for the same portion size, crisps weigh in at 128 calories, with a whopping 8.2 g of fat (0.6 g saturated, 0.7 g polyunsaturated, 6.5 g monounsaturated). This is around 13% of your total recommended fat intake in one standard pack. Popcorn, clearly, is the better option

    2. Stick with wholegrain kernels and steer clear of microwaveable varieties.

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      Some modern brands are resorting to the traditional method of popcorn making, minus additives, leaving you to enjoy a healthy snack. It’s worth chasing down some of these brands. In the UK companies such as Graze and Proper Corn are offering “gourmet” popcorn in all its health giving glory, with flavours such as black pepper, and fiery worcester sauce and sun dried tomato making up a low carb, low calorie, low sugar and salt snack. These firms tend to use whole grain kernels in order to offer the maximum health benefits; whole grains use the full health properties, consisting of the bran, germ, and endosperm. These are packed full of healthy oils, vitamin E, B vitamins, and the bran’s also a great source of fibre.

      Unfortunately there are many commercial popcorn brands with mass produced, chemically overloaded varieties, with one of the main culprits being microwave popcorn. As a convenient, enjoyable snack this is a glorious modern day luxury but, sadly, these often tend to be crammed full of unpleasant toxins. Whilst your microwaved Butter Popcorn may taste exactly like butter, the truth is it simply isn’t – the pleasant buttery taste is supplied by diacetyl. To add to the chemical woes, the American Food and Drug Administration has been studying the effects of heating the plastics coating the insides of the microwaveable packets. Although the risk to the general public is considered slight, these chemicals stay in the body for a long time and can accumulate, causing various complications. The Environmental Work Group (EWG) add to this with alarming news; “It’s no secret that diacetyl, the chemical that gives butter-flavored microwave popcorn it’s buttery-ness, has caused serious and sometimes fatal lung disease in workers in flavoring and popcorn factories.” Due to this some top brands of microwave popcorn, such as Pop Weaver, announced they would stop using diacetyl in 2009. However, to be on the safe side you should find genuine popcorn makers who rely on traditional, healthy practices. You could even take this a step further with our next step!

      3. Cook popcorn at home for a nutritious, cheap snack.

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        We take popcorn so much for granted we might not stop to think about what a natural marvel it is. The process is aptly named because it really is popping like an overinflated balloon, the only difference being that instead of air it’s superheated, pressurised steam causing the hull to pop. Because the hull doesn’t allow water in or out, when the small amounts of moisture inside it become extremely hot, they expand and squeeze amid the natural oils and starches. Then when the pressure is high enough compared to the pressure outside, the kernel lets go and the gelatinous mixture inside blows out into the familiar shape and rapidly cools and sets – all in the blink of an eye. With so much energy in the process, it’s remarkable the kernel doesn’t disintegrate upon popping, but the chemical structures of the inner starches just about keep it together. For a detailed scientific analysis you can head here.

        It’s such a wonderful, fun process there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy cooking popcorn in your home. This will help eliminate any added nasties from the end result, and you can monitor how much sugar or salt you add. All you need to do is head to a nearby health store and pick up a bag of organic kernels – you can experiment with flavours and oils, but a stove, pan, and a cover to set off the popcorn is all that is required. You can buy a 500g bag of organic popcorn kernels for around £5 ($6 or $7) making it an excellent choice for family snacks.

        4. It’s a good dieting food.

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          Hunger pangs are a nuisance if you’re trying to lose weight, or just attempting to lead a healthy lifestyle. Popcorn, in its light, filing form, is one way to banish those annoying pangs and receive a health boost whilst you’re at it. There is a new fangled Popcorn Dietyou can consider, although we recommend you steer clear of a diet focusing of one ingredient. Humans need a wide variety of foods to remain healthy, and popcorn can act as a contributor to this overall health.

          As a dieting tool popcorn has plenty to offer, not least its ability to fend off hunger pangs. This is, in part, due to its glycemic index (GI). The United States Department of Agriculture has highlighted popcorn’s good GI, a term which describes blood sugar levels after food containing carbohydrates has been consumed. Foods with a low GI are desirable as they won’t spike your blood sugar and will leave you feeling fuller for longer. With a GI of 55 (which compares to two slices of white bread at a GI of 88) it is clear consuming popcorn in small portions is an excellent way to manage your weight, or to fend off those pesky hunger pangs. However, do remember moderation is important and overindulgence should be curbed. With this in mind popcorn can, and should, be enjoyed in sensible portions as part of a varied and balanced diet.

          5. Popcorn is likely to make you more popular!

            As a positive social tool popcorn making should not be underestimated. Whilst it’s a simple process to make popcorn (refer to point 3 for more details) it is likely most people simply don’t know how to, or would revert to local stores for their supply. I would argue, however, becoming a popcorn making specialist would wow your friends and family at social events. Personalising recipes and impressing your nearest and dearest with your kernel popping skills could have all manner of benefits; it’s a good conversation point, makes you appear very skilled, and as feel-good-factors go the positive feedback would certainly be an excellent self-confidence boost! All in the name of popcorn.

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            Alex Morris

            Content Manager, Copywriter, & Blogger

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            Last Updated on January 17, 2019

            8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

            8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

            In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

            Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

            Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

            Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

            Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

            The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

            There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

            How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

            According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

            Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

            Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

            The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

            Listen carefully:

            We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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            The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

            Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

            8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

            There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

            Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

            1. Pray Daily

            You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

            When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

            Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

            Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

            2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

            A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

            By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

            Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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            If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

            This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

            How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

            3. Smile Often

            Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

            Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

            Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

            The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

            4. Organize Your Working Desk

            A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

            When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

            Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

            Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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            5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

            I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

            Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

            What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

            6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

            God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

            I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

            I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

            7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

            You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

            How do you do that? This is my formula:

            First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

            If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

            If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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            If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

            Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

            8. Go Exercise

            Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

            The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

            You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

            12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

            The Bottom Line

            It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

            It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

            Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

            More Resources About Mindfulness

            Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

            Reference

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