Start Popping! October Is National Popcorn Month
Last updated: October 2021
Raise your hand if you join me as a popcorn lover! Yes, I know, popcorn is a source of carbohydrates, but this unique treat also gets extra nutrition quality points for being a whole grain. You can still enjoy popcorn if you live with type 2 diabetes. Here are some tips to work popcorn into your diet.
Popcorn's nutritional benefits
While monitoring our carbohydrate intake is important for blood sugar management, there are some carbohydrates that stand out from the crowd. Popcorn has nutritional benefits.
Whole grain and fiber
Popcorn is a whole grain that also contains fiber. The fiber in whole grains have been shown to improve blood sugar, weight, and cholesterol as part of diabetes management.1
Another health benefit that is not often mentioned relating to popcorn are it's high percentage of polyphenols. A study published out of the University of Scranton found that popcorn contains a higher percentage of polyphenols than the more popular fruits and vegetables. The study found the number of polyphenols is higher in popcorn because popcorn does not have a high-water content like fresh produce. Polyphenols can help reduce the risk of inflammation.2
Popcorn has a high Glycemic Index
If you are looking at the Glycemic Index (GI) of popcorn, you will find that it is has a moderate to high GI. But this doesn’t mean you cannot eat popcorn if you have diabetes. When it comes to popcorn for type 2 diabetes management, the portion size is key. Aim to consume up to three cups of popcorn.
Various preparation methods of popcorn
There are several categories of popcorn: air-popped, popped with oil, homemade with oil, or microwave popcorn. The carbohydrate (5-6 grams per cup) and fiber (1 gram per cup) content of the various popcorns is about the same.
Check the food label on your popcorn
The fat content is where the preparation methods will differ, with anywhere from zero grams to five grams of fat per cup. The carbohydrates affect blood sugar, but for people with diabetes, it is also important to monitor your fat content. Check the nutrition facts panel for any trans-fat in microwave popcorn.
Nutrition facts comparison
Here’s a rundown of the nutrition facts for popcorn, per 3 cups serving:
- Air-popped: 93 calories; 1 gram fat; 18 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber
- Oil-popped: 165 calories; 9 grams fat; 18 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber
- Home-made oil popped: 120 calories; 7 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber
- Microwave (no trans-fat): 192 calories; 14 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber
Recipe ideas for diabetes-friendly popcorn
One of the preferred ways I season popcorn is by sprinkling parmesan cheese on top. If you are interested in noshing on popcorn with lunch or as a snack but are managing your carbohydrate intake, here are some quick and easy recipe ideas. The good news is that when you add any of these flavors, they will not increase the carbohydrate content.
Choose your favorite preparation of popcorn, then measure three cups of popped popcorn into a bowl and sprinkle with a combination of seasonings.
- For sweet popcorn, sprinkle popcorn with ground cinnamon and a teaspoon of low-calorie sweetener.
- For pizza-flavored popcorn, sprinkle popcorn with oregano, garlic, and basil.
- For gourmet popcorn, combine parmesan cheese and rosemary and sprinkle over popcorn.
- For spicy popcorn, sprinkle the popped corn with chili powder and cumin.
Popcorn trail mix
If you are looking for a diabetes-friendly snack, why not use popcorn as the base for a trail mix? Combine popcorn with nuts to make your own crunchy snack. Remember, your portion size for a trail mix using popcorn instead of a dry cereal will allow you a bigger serving.
Popcorn can be part of a healthy eating plan. But make sure to include foods from each of the food groups to balance out your total nutrition!
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?