Good news for snackers: Looks like popcorn is healthier than previously believed. Experts knew it was rich in fiber and low in calories, but it turns out it's full of antioxidants, too, Health.com reports. By simulating the body's breakdown of the food, researchers have found that it's got almost twice the healthy polyphenols found in an average fruit. The chemicals fight unhealthy free radicals and may also battle heart disease.
"Popcorn may be the perfect snack food," the study's lead researcher tells the Daily Mail, noting that "it's the only snack that is 100% unprocessed whole grain." Fruits have an average of about 160mg of polyphenols, while two tablespoons of popcorn kernels can host up to 300mg. A few caveats: Fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals that popcorn lacks; a lot of popcorn's polyphenols lie in the kernel's hull, so be sure to eat that part; and microwave and movie popcorn can contain a lot of "nasty stuff" you don't want in your body, experts note. To stay healthy, stick to stove-popped corn and go easy on the butter. (Read more popcorn stories.)