June 26, 2017

Can People with Diabetes Safely Eat Popcorn?

Yes, popcorn can be a healthful snack for most people, depending on how it is prepared.  With its fairly low calorie and high-fiber content, air popped popcorn is often a go-to snack for dieters.

However, people with diabetes have more to worry about than their waistlines when snacking on popcorn.  People with diabetes can eat popcorn but need to choose carefully the type of popcorn, how it is cooked, and how much they eat, due to popcorn's high carb content.

Air-popped popcorn offers very few calories per cup.  In addition, a cup of air-popped popcorn contains a little over 1 gram (g) in fiber.  It also contains about 1 g of protein and about 6 g of carbohydrate.  Additionally, popcorn contains zero cholesterol and is almost fat-free, far less than 0.5 g per cup.  The total calories in a 5-cup serving are between 100-150.

Popcorn qualifies as a whole-grain food.  One serving can provide about 70 percent of the recommended daily intake of whole grain.  Popcorn is full of vitamins and minerals.  A single serving of popcorn contains a number of vitamins and minerals, including:

Popcorn is a whole-grain, low-calorie snack, including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, folate, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin.

A serving of popcorn also contains iron and trace amounts of manganese, calcium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.  The popcorn's hull or shell is the source of much of its nutritional value.  The shell contains beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are important for maintaining eye health.  The shell also contains polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Researchers have stated that popcorn contains up to 300 milligrams of polyphenols per serving.  This high amount of polyphenols is more than 60 percent of the amount provided by fruits and vegetables in the average American diet.

However, popcorn's benefits are greatest when the popcorn is air-popped. Similar to salads and potatoes, these health benefits are often reduced by adding too much salt, butter, oil, and other condiments or toppings.

Like any food, popcorn comes with recommended serving sizes and should not be enjoyed in excess.  Additionally, the choice of toppings has a serious impact on how much a person can or should eat per serving.

As mentioned above, a serving size of popcorn of roughly 5 cups popped, offers a number of nutrients.  This equates to a small bowl of popcorn.

Nutritional yeast is packed with vitamin B12. Its cheesy flavor makes it a great topping for popcorn.

For people on a restricted diet, such as people with diabetes, it is best to avoid adding large amounts of other add-ons to popcorn.  Air-popped popcorn is the best option to get the most benefit with minimal extras.

I admit that I will only eat popcorn loaded with butter which seems to run contrary to this article.  But I still insist that I need the butter for the fat in my diet.

For people who want some additional flavor, oil-popped popcorn does not add many calories and adds a bit of flavor.  Other suggestions include small amounts of grated cheese, nutritional yeast, a bit of olive oil, and spices such as chili powder, garlic powder, or even cinnamon.

For people with diabetes, the glycemic index (GI) is an important number to know when considering what food to buy and eat.  GI is a scale from 1 to 100 and refers to how much the body's blood sugar increases after eating carbohydrate-filled foods.  The higher the value, the more the blood sugar will rise.

In general, foods with a higher GI are rapidly digested, leading to quick absorption.  As a result, they produce marked changes in blood sugar levels.

By comparison, low-GI foods are much slower to digest and are absorbed at a slower rate.  In turn, they produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Low-GI diets have some proven health benefits, including:
  • improving both glucose and lipid levels in those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • weight control, as the slow absorption helps control appetite and delay hunger

Air-popped popcorn has a GI of 55, which is at the upper end of low-GI foods but much better than other salty snacks.

Please read the full article here to help your decision and not way I eat popcorn. 

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