You Asked: What’s the Healthiest Way to Make Popcorn?

If you ’ ve ever wondered precisely what happens when a popcorn kernel pops, well, scientific research has the answer. An un-popped corn kernel is a sink of water surrounding by soft starch and encased in a hull. Heat up that kernel, and the water molecules locked inside will expand until the pressure and heat cause the starch to inflate and explode, bursting the hull and turning the kernel wrong-side-out .

What you have left after this crop up occurs is a fill, low-calorie, whole-grain food packed with fiber. “ Popcorn is an extremely alimentary nosh compared to most, ” says Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton.

Along with fiber, popcorn is a reservoir of polyphenols—a type of plant antioxidant linked to improved cell health. Most fruits and vegetables are chiefly water—meaning you have to eat a relatively large part of them to get meaningful amounts of their healthful nutrients, Vinson says. Popcorn is a a lot more condense source of antioxidants. Vinson ’ s research has shown that a serve of popcorn contains roughly double the sum of polyphenols as a serve of fruit ( although yield may have different or more numerous amounts of other vitamins and goodly phytochemicals ). But while popcorn in its natural country is a bite you can feel good about, how you prepare it can lessen its healthful properties. research has linked the coatings used in microwave popcorn to health issues. “ One of the ingredients found in many brands of microwaveable popcorn is diacetyl, a season which has been linked to the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans, ” says Anna Taylor, a clinical dietician with Cleveland Clinic. That disorder is nicknamed “ popcorn lung, ” for the condition contracted by some workers in microwave popcorn factories — though the risks aren ’ thymine absolved for people who only eat popcorn, and don ’ t work with it.

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Reports from the Environmental Working Group and others have besides revealed that some chemicals used to coat microwave popcorn bags and keep the oils inside from leaching through are probable carcinogens. Those reports led the FDA to ban some of these chemicals from popcorn bags and other consumer goods. But there ’ s no guarantee the chemicals replacing them are any safe, the EWG says. While those health concerns associated with pre-bagged microwave popcorn are not definitive, early homework methods are probably safer choices, Taylor says. But even if you heat popcorn kernels in a stovetop crank-style popper, experts say there are some reasons to be wary. Some people add petroleum to their naked corn kernels in order to encourage rapid heat. But many oils will burn and smoke before the popcorn has popped .

That ’ sulfur bad. “ Anytime you burn fats or oils, you run the risk of creating chemical compounds that potentially can cause oxidative price to cells, ” says Lona Sandon, an adjunct professor in the department of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. How bad this burned anoint is for you depends on how often you consume it. “ There is not authoritative data on barely how much you would have to eat for it to be a trouble, ” she says. But if you ’ re coating your popcorn in scorched oil every night, that ’ s not ideal. “ In general, it is not advised to eat burn vegetable oil or fatty regularly, no matter what type of food you are cooking, ” she adds. Some oils have a higher pot distributor point than others, and so may be safe to employ for stove-top pop. “ Peanut, corn, soy and sesame anoint have high smoke points, ” says Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an consort professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University ’ s Institute of Human Nutrition. “ If using these oils, higher estrus can be tolerated. ” But the healthiest homework method of all is one that removes oil from the equation. “ If you are an avid popcorn eater, it is credibly best to go with air-popped, ” Sandon says. Electric air poppers are cheap and energy efficient, and good ones heat up popcorn cursorily and thoroughly enough to ensure you end up with fluffy, bellied pieces. If you ’ ra wonder good how hot popcorn has to get for a perfective pop, two french researchers have you covered. Their 2015 survey found that 356 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature at which to pop your kernels. Simply spread naked popcorn kernels on a bake sheet and slide it into an oven preheated to 356 degrees, says Emmanuel Virot, first base writer of the study, who is immediately a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University. It ’ s not the easiest way to make popcorn, but it is the funniest, Virot says, because your toss off kernels will end up all over your oven. You ’ ll have to pick up those break up pieces, but you ’ ll enjoy the show through your oven window. Contact us at letters @ time.com. partake THIS STORY