By Meredith Sheldon
Scrap the pretzels and toss out the potato chips. If you are looking for a healthy snack to munch on, you might want to pop some popcorn.
That’s right. This whole-grain, high-fiber food popped up on the list of healthiest snacks, having higher antioxidant levels than some fruits and vegetables, according to a study by the American Chemical Society.
To keep your whole-grain snack high in flavor but low in calories, follow these guidelines to make sure you are eating smart.
1. Avoid the additives
Although butter or caramel sound great on some salty popcorn, they aren’t great for your health with all those added sugars and fats.
Instead, try some nutritious alternatives. Olive oil, garlic powder or reduced-fat cheese are healthy flavorings that won’t sky-rocket the calorie count on your bowl of popcorn. Popcorn contains no saturated or trans fats, so why add them?
2. Be shelf savvy
Knowing which brands of popcorn to buy is crucial. Unsalted, plain air-popped popcorn is the lowest in calories and should be highest on your grocery list.
When grazing through the aisles at the store, look for brands like SkinnyPop, Smartfood and BOOMCHICKAPOP, which are the leading ready-to-eat popcorn brands, according to a study in Statista. These popped products have a low calorie count of about 35 calories per cup.
3. Just Say No to Movie Theater Butter
The movie theater popcorn that fills your stomach during an intense rom-com will also fill your body with unwanted fats and calories.
A medium popcorn at AMC is about 430 calories and 20 grams of fat, according to MyFitnessPal, a calorie-tracking app. Next time you go to a movie and want to munch, bring your own air-popped corn. Don’t waste the calories and money on a bucket of butter.
4. Be Mindful With the Microwave
To reduce your risk, pop the kernels yourself or purchase the healthiest version of air-popped corn. However, eating this snack in the microwave once in a while won’t pose harmful health risks.