Pop Your Way to a Healthier Day

By Colleen E. Trupkin, RD, CNSC, clinical dietitian at CHOC

Jan. 19 is Popcorn Day!

Corn, also called maize, is a member of the grass family. There are six types of corn: pod, sweet, flour, dent, flint, and popcorn. Popcorn is the only one that pops. It comes in two shapes: snowfpopcornlake and mushroom. Popcorn can be a low-calorie food and a good source of fiber with air-popped corn providing 31 calories, 0.34 fat grams and 1.2 grams of fiber. Oil-popped corn provides 55 calories, 3 fat grams of fat and 1.2 grams of fiber per each 1 cup serving (Source: USDA). Butter adds additional calories and fat.

The start of the 2014 means a renewed focus on healthy eating for many of us. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “A healthy eating pattern…emphasizes nutrient-dense foods and beverages- vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low fat milk and milk products, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds.” It is recommended that half your grains come from whole grains. Popcorn is a fun and healthy food to help you on your way!  It is a whole grain, low in calories, and a good source of fiber.

Whole grains are made up of the entire grain kernel which includes the bran, endosperm and germ. Whole grains are a good source of magnesium, selenium and fiber. Magnesium is important for bone health and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium is important for immune health and protects cells from oxidation. Fiber intake may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health complications.

To help you celebrate the New Year and Popcorn Day, try one of these recipes!

Popcorn Trail Mix
Yield: 5 cups

8 oz. raisins
6 oz. diced, dried fruit (apricots, apples, etc.)
4 cups air-popped popcorn


  1. Set freshly popped popcorn in large bowl.
  2. Add diced fruit and raisins.
  3. Toss popcorn and fruit until combined thoroughly.

Super Spicy Popcorn Snack
Yield: 8 cups

8 cups air-popped popcorn
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Combine mustard, Italian seasoning, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl; mix well.
  2. Spray popcorn lightly with butter-flavored cooking spray; immediately sprinkle with seasonings and toss to coat and mix.

 Check out this link for additional recipes and popcorn related fun: http://www.popcorn.org/

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