Popcorn Has More Antioxidants Than Fruit, Study Says

Popcorn contains nearly 2 times the amount of polyphonols

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Apparently, we should all be grabbing a handful of popcorn instead of an apple for antioxidants. Sounds crazy, but it's true: a new study shows that the snack contains more antioxidants than a single serving of fruit.

When University of Scranton researchers analyzed popcorn (by grinding it into a powder and adding some solvent to mimic digestion), they found that a single serving of popcorn had nearly 300 milligrams of polyphenols. Polyphenol, a plant-based chemical, is what fights free radicals in the body and helps fight against heart disease and other health problems. Popcorn packs a powerful punch: the average polyphenol content of a single serving of fruit is only about 160 milligrams. The majority of polyphenols were found in the outer skin of popcorn kernels (called the hull), much like where polyphenols are found in fruit — in its skin.

While popcorn is already known to be a good source of fiber, its other health benefits aren't as well known. Popcorn is also 100 percent whole grain, so it's a good option to reach for instead of chips or crackers. Plus, popcorn contains another antioxidant: ferulic acid, which fights against diseases like Alzheimer's.

However, don't run to the microwave just yet. The researchers say pre-popped or microwave popcorn contains artificial ingredients and other bad ingredients, like partially hydrogenated oils. (And don't get us started on the movie popcorn.) If you're going to eat popcorn, plain kernels made on a stovetop popper is best, without the added fixings. (Although, we do like flavored popcorns on some occassions.)

And of course, don't skimp on the fruit either: said one student to Health.com, "Popcorn is no substitute for fruit... Fruits have other vitamins and mineral that popcorn does not contain."