Popcorn Nutritional Guide
Varieties of Popcorn
- You can find a wide variety of popcorn through gourmet, bulk and specialty stores. The most common variety is yellow popcorn, the yellow-orange kernels most people are familiar with. White popcorn, with pale yellow kernels, are also widely available. Rarer popcorn varieties have blue or red kernels. The varieties are nutritionally similar, with only very minor differences in their nutrition.
- The calories in popcorn vary depending upon how it's prepared---without oil (air-popped) or with oil. Unbuttered, air-popped popcorn contains about 31 calories per cup; popping corn in oil raises that to about 55 calories per cup (when you use 1 tablespoon of oil per ¼ cup of dry corn). Although it's popped in oil, microwave popcorn varies widely in its calorie depending upon the amount and type of oil and any additional ingredients packaged with the popcorn. A one-cup microwave popcorn serving can have as few as 50 calories or more than 150 calories.
- Air-popped popcorn has very little fat--only 0.4 grams per one-cup serving--making it an especially good choice for snacking. When popped in oil, the fat content rises to about 3.09 grams of fat per cup, which is 5% of the recommended daily allowance. Of course, if you choose to add butter to your popcorn, the fat content will be higher. As for microwave popcorn, some brands offer a low-fat version that can cut the fat content of oil-popped corn by at least 1 gram.
Carbohydrates and Protein
- There is very little difference among air-popped, oil-popped and microwave popcorn when it comes to carbs. Each type includes about 6.3 grams carbs in a one-cup serving, with about 1.1 grams of dietary fiber. Additionally, one cup of popcorn prepared by any method contains about 1 gram of protein. Though the fiber and protein levels aren't high, they come in a relatively low-calorie package, making popcorn a good way to get just a little extra fiber and protein into your diet.
Vitamins and Minerals
- Popcorn contains a range of vitamins and minerals, in small amounts. The prime nutrient found in popcorn, regardless of preparation method, is potassium. Depending on the variety, popcorn ranges from about 24 milligrams per cup to about 26 milligrams per cup; darker varieties generally have higher amounts. Additionally, popcorn contains a small amount of calcium, iron, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and B vitamins.