Popcorn and nutrition- what are the connections for diabetics?
So we all love popcorn, but can diabetics eat popcorn? Yes, popcorn is healthy for those with diabetes. But there is so much more to it than that. Just like anything else you consume, it matters how much you eat and what you put on it. Popcorn is a rich source of whole grain, numerous minerals, and of course vitamins, specifically A, E, and B6.
This whole grain source of carbohydrate is an excellent source of nutrients for those of us with diabetes whether it’s unprocessed or air popped popcorn. Most of the products that are considered “light” contain about 3 grams of fiber and approximately 90 calories for each serving. Because it is made from corn and is considered a whole grain, it doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels the way most other sugary snack products do.
This very popular snack is down there on the glycemic index list of about 55. But you want to be careful about your portion sizes and also about what you’re adding to it. If you’re drowning it in butter and salt than stop. You know it’s not good if you have diabetes and even if you don’t have it, too much salt can raise your blood pressure and too much butter isn’t any good either. So be careful!
Popcorn helps to play an important role in controlling your blood sugar naturally. When your body is getting enough amounts of fiber, it aids in controlling your blood sugars much better than those with lower levels of fiber. It is a recommended healthy snack for diabetics since it reduces the variations of blood glucose control.
* Whole grains- The parts known as the bran, germ, and endosperm are inside of these whole grain seeds. The bran contents are made up of minerals, antioxidants, vitamin B, protein, and a ton of fiber. The germ also contains minerals, protein, vitamin B, protein, but in addition contains healthy oils. Content of flour which is rich in fiber and protein too is found in the endosperm. An interesting fact is that folks who do eat popcorn consume over 250% more whole seeds than folks who do not eat it.
* Cholesterol- Popcorn helps in the removal of too much cholesterol from your arteries and walls of your blood vessels with its’ rich content of fiber. Not only that, it can lower your risk of going through cardiovascular disease and can avoid diabetes because hypertension can lead to diabetes.
* Polyphenols- There happen to be a very high amount of antioxidants in popcorn and probably a lot more than most of us might think there are. These come in the form of polyphenols which are the antioxidants that are found in the skin not peeled when the popcorn is being cooked. Peeling the skin is what reduces the benefit of the polyphenols. These are so powerful in preventing your body from free radicals which can cause cancer, heart disease, and of course diabetes.
* Fiber contents- There’s 4 grams of fiber in 4 cups of popcorn but most tomes it is consumed in larger quantities that meet or surpass the daily recommended allowance of 35 grams of fiber intake for men and 25 grams for women. Again, it’s fiber that can lower your risk of heart disease and cardiovascular issues by keeping down your cholesterol levels which aids in a better blood flow that will lessen your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Health benefits of eating popcorn
* Aging- It can help to prevent aging due to free radicals and a significant amount of age related symptoms such as dementia, osteoporosis, weakness of the muscles, macular degeneration, blindness, age spots, and wrinkles.
* Cancer- Large quantities of polyphenolic compounds are found in the hull of popcorn which happens to be one of the most powerful antioxidants you can consume. Antioxidants are the enemy of free radicals that can be linked to various diseases in the body including cancer. Studies were done that showed that consuming popcorn had more potential of antioxidants in your body than having vegetables and fruits on a daily basis and they can eliminate those free radicals.
* Losing weight- Popcorn can help you in the weight loss department because it’s low in calories at only 30 calories per cup. But it’s the fiber content that gives you that feeling of being full for much longer that really helps and in addition prevents the release of ghrelin which is a hunger hormone. This curbs your appetite so you will eat less and lose weight which is a huge issue with diabetes.
* Gluten free- For those people who have celiac disease and are gluten intolerant, popcorn is a wonderful choice and alternate to bread crumbs and other additives and toppings that can affect you the way gluten does. I’d like to make a good point here in not choosing the microwaveable kind or any kind that is loaded with butter and salt. Plain is the way to go and the healthiest especially for diabetics.
* Protein- Popcorn is a much better choice than potato chips because it contains more protein and phosphorous. And if you compare it to spinach and eggs, you might be surprised to learn that it contains more iron than either one of them.
* Digestion- Because popcorn contains the endosperm, bran, and germ its high fiber is made up from vitamin E, complex vitamins, and vital minerals which helps to control regular bowel movements. This also aids in avoiding constipation as well.
Yellow popcorn has a bad reputation in the past from movie theater and microwave popcorn which are high in trans fats because of hydrogenated coconut oil and artificial buttered flavorings. but it can be healthy if you prepare it the correct way.
Yellow popcorn is also beneficial for treating constipation and avoiding hemorrhoids because of its fiber and in reality there isn’t much difference in nutrition when it comes to yellow or white popcorn. 3-4 cups of air-popped popcorn can give you 4 grams of fiber which is approximately 16% of what you require on a daily basis. This popcorn contains insoluble fiber which doesn’t dissolve in water which results in the bulking up of your stool, making it easier while going traveling through your gastrointestinal tract.
Additional healthy tips and facts about popcorn
* Popcorn healthier than vegetables and fruit- Really? Yes! Now, I’m not talking about popcorn that is commercially distributed. But is it as close to nature as you can get. If there are no fats, oils, or sugars added and it’s dry popped in hot air, then after a little bit of “getting to the inside” you can simply eat it.
The fact of the matter is one daily portion of popcorn contains more antioxidants than all of the vegetables and fruits that you eat combined in one day according to the University at Scranton. Many of the fresh vegetables and fruits have antioxidants in them that help to keep control of any harmful molecules. There are a ton of vitamins in popcorn such as: thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamins A, B, E, and vitamin K. It also is a great source of zinc, potassium, iron, and polyphenols which I mentioned before as being the antioxidants needed for you to fight off cardiovascular disease and cancer.
* Great for dieting- Who doesn’t get the hunger pains when you’re dieting and trying to lose weight? It’s the most uncomfortable feeling and can drive you crazy enough to eat! Popcorn is very light, fills you up, and gets rid of those annoying hunger pains or pangs. This is not to say that popcorn is the be all and end all for dieters and losing weight.
You still need to eat healthy and nutritiously and not try and survive on popcorn alone. And losing weight is the best thing you can do for your type 2 diabetes. You will still need some discipline because you should only consume in moderation so don’t overdo it!
* Wholegrain kernels yes- microwaveable no- You want to be smart here in choosing the kind of popcorn that sticks to the original and traditional methods of producing popcorn. There are brands that offer flavors such as: sun dried tomato and black pepper that are better because they are a brand that has a low salt and low sugar content and are low in calories.
The reason that these companies produce a better product is that they offer superior benefits because of their full health ingredients of the germ, bran, and the endosperm. As I also mentioned they are loaded with B vitamins, vitamin E, and healthy oils for an excellent source of fiber. Too many brands that are made commercially contain chemicals mainly found in microwave popcorn. This buttery taste is unfortunately toxins that are not pleasant.
Effects of consuming too much popcorn
Too much popcorn can give you and uncomfortable and bloated feeling. If you’re adding all the no-no’s such as salt, sugar, and butter, this will make you thirsty and the excess salt can raise your blood pressure.
While popcorn is low in calories it doesn’t mean that you can “pig out”, especially if you’re adding tons of toppings that are unhealthy. This will lead to gaining weight and it’s not what you obviously want to to. In fact, it’s the opposite!
Eating too much will give you too much sodium and that leads to fluid retention, increased blood pressure, and possibly stroke, kidney disease, and heart disease.
So, can diabetics eat popcorn? Popcorn is good and it is healthy for you IF you take the right path in regards to eating it. It can make you feel full and help to lower your blood sugar.
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