Chocolate or popcorn, anyone? How about chocolate on popcorn? Come on—you know there are some of you, college students, out there who combine the two! Good news! Both of these delicious treats have made health news!
The American Chemical Society in San Diego recently presented unpublished research regarding popcorn. Popcorn has been found to have “higher concentrations of polyphenols than do fruits and vegetables.” Say what?
Let’s catch all you non-science degree seekers up to speed. Polyphenols act like antioxidants and are plant based. Antioxidants may help fight disease because they inhibit oxidation. Basically, think of oxidation as a chemical reaction that starts a chain of events which may product free radicals. Too many free radicals might be responsible for cellular death and contributing factors in diabetes and/or cancer. The bottom line? Antioxidants can inhibit negative free radical chain reactions. Translation: while more research is needed, it can’t hurt to eat foods rich in antioxidants!
Now you know why the “an apple a day” adage has been so popular! While the news about popcorn is exciting, you need to know that the part of popcorn that has the highest levels of polyphenols is in the hull—you know, the reason why you head to the medicine cabinet to grab the dental floss after eating it. Furthermore, researchers are talking about this whole grain high fiber snack not doused in butter, oil and salt. So if you do indulge and pour on the butter, you may be reducing the health benefit!
On to my favorite—chocolate! Research recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine show “a happy association between chocolate consumption and body mass index (BMI). BMI is “the individual’s body mass divided by the square of his or her height.” Doctors often use BMI to determine whether or not someone’s weight is normal for their height. It’s pretty much a gauging device.
Research showed that of the 1,000 survey participants who often ate chocolate, they had lower BMI’s than those who did not. Even after researchers accounted for age, gender, physical activity etc., the association remained. The only factor not correlated was the amount of chocolate eaten and the BMI index. So while there is a link between BMI and chocolate consumption, “the authors make clear their work simply detects an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship” according to The Washington Post. More research into chocolate’s possible metabolic effects might be helpful.
As for me, I—along with millions of others I’m sure—will continue to enjoy a bit of chocolate when the cravings hit. Regarding the type of chocolate to eat? The less processed the chocolate, the more possible health benefits. Moderate portions of dark chocolate such as one ounce a “few times a week” should be okay but don’t forget those veggies and fruits!