Popcorn is a snack widely eaten in movie theaters across America and enjoyed as a snack at home, during work and travel. Air-popped and microwave popcorn is often a staple with people who are dieting, as it is a filling, yet low-calorie snack. Although both kinds are healthy for you, they each have advantages and disadvantages.
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Street vendors set up at locations where crowds would gather from the 1890's until the Great Depression. After the depression, popcorn was considered one of the few affordable luxuries. The use of gas or steam powered poppers was common. These days most people enjoy popcorn on a regular basis because it is portable, low calorie and delicious.
Each kernel of popping corn surrounds a tiny drop of water. When heated through microwaving, heating with hot oil or air, the water expands until it causes the kernel to pop open, resulting in a fluffy white tasty morsel.
Popping the popcorn kernels by machines blowing hot air became popular in the 1970's, while popping the kernels in individuals bags in the microwave started in the 1980's, according to the Popcorn website. One cup of air-popped popcorn has 31 calories, while oil-popped versions such as microwave or stovetop cooking have 55 calories, according to the Hot Popcorn Poppers website.
While air popping the popcorn does result in fewer calories, the machines typically contain a tray where you can melt butter to flavor it. Some people feel that air popping leaves the popcorn dry and tasteless, so they dress it up with high calorie flavorings, thus defeating the purpose of air popping. Microwaving popcorn is quick and convenient, yet many of the kernels remain unpopped. If you do not keep an eye on the microwaveable package, the popcorn can burn quickly and leave a foul odor in the room for several hours.
Popcorn is a whole grain snack and high in fiber. If you do not get enough fiber in your diet, eating a lot of popcorn in one sitting may lead to temporary gastrointestinal discomfort. Popcorn is a low calorie, low sugar and fat free snack if you do not add many flavorings, such as butter or sugary toppings.