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Made of dried corned kernels and heated to produce edible puffs, popcorn is an all-time favorite snack for many people, especially moviegoers and couch potatoes! It is rich in vitamins, minerals, carbs, and fiber, which makes it a healthy and yummy snack.
But the question remains, is popcorn keto-friendly? Since it is made of whole grain, you might be thinking it will kick you out of ketosis. We will provide an overview of popcorn, its nutritional facts, specifically its carb count, and how you can enjoy it when on the keto diet!
What is Popcorn?
Humans first grew corn about 10,000 years ago in Mexico, and it has been a staple food since then. Corn has been the most widely grown grain crop in the Americas, with about 500 million metric tons of production every year.
Popcorn has been a favorite snack by many for thousands of years. Popcorn fossils were even discovered in Peru by archaeologists that are over 6,000 years old. Later on, people popped their corns on stovetops by hand as popcorn kernels became widely available on the East Coast.
The steam-powered popcorn maker was only invented in the 1890s in a Chicago candy store by Charles Cretor. He sold “popped corns” on the street until it grew in popularity, especially during the Great Depression.
The popcorn business thrived even as other companies failed, and popcorn production became a source of income for struggling farmers.
Popcorn Nutrition Facts
Many think that popcorn is healthy because it is made out of a vegetable. However, popcorn is considered a whole grain, and the kernels are harvested when the corn plant is mature and all parts of the grain are intact.
Whole grains have a lot of health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and overall mortality. 3 cups or 24 grams of air-popped popcorn approximately contains the following:
- Calories: 90
- Fat: 1 gram
- Protein: 3 grams
- Carbs: 18 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Magnesium: 9% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Phosphorus: 9% of the RDI
- Manganese: 12% of the RDI
- Zinc: 6% of the RDI
Air-popped popcorn has a relatively low Glycemic Index (GI) of 55 because of its high volume and fiber content, making it more filling. Consuming popcorn, then, is easier to control because of the portions, compared to most other snack foods. Read more about healthy keto-friendly snack food ideas.
Popcorn also offers antioxidants, such as polyphenols that help prevent cellular damage caused by molecules called free radicals. It avoids effects against cancer and other chronic diseases.
Keto Diet Overview
Here’s a quick recap of the ketogenic diet. This diet recommends a dramatic reduction in the carb intake and replacing them with fats. Through this, a metabolic state called ketosis will occur in your body, producing ketones from the fat breakdowns. These ketones are then used for energy in the absence of carbs.
Originally used as a diet for epileptic children, keto has been linked to several health benefits like weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
The basis of the diet includes low-carb foods such as eggs, meat, fatty fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, as well as non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and bell peppers.
Carbs in Popcorn
The amount of carbs in popcorn varies according to the brand or type. It also depends on how you’re eating it. For instance, an entire bucket to popcorn at the movies has a higher carb count than in a pack of the microwaveable product.
Here are some types of popcorn and their carb count. Remember that these are not brand-specific, so you still need to review the nutrition facts on what you buy!
- Air-popped popcorn has 77.78 grams of carbs per 100 grams and 6.22 carbs per cup. It has 63.28 net carbs per 100 grams and 5.02 net carbs per cup.
- Microwave popcorn has 57.26 grams of carbs per 100 grams and 4.52 grams of carbs per cup. It has 47.26 net carbs per 100 grams and 3.72 net carbs per cup.
- Oil-popped popcorn has 58.10 grams of carbs per 100 grams and 4.65 grams per cup. It has 48.10 net carbs per 100 grams and 3.85 net carbs per cup.
Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the total fiber from total carbs. Keto experts consider net carbs as the carb limit. With this information, is it safe to say that popcorn can fit into a low-carb or ketogenic diet?
The truth is, you can eat about a cup of popcorn and still stay in ketosis. You can easily fit it in your diet if you have a limit of 50 grams of net carbs. Not to mention, if you’re following a keto diet to lose weight, popcorn only has 90 calories per serving.
If you’re new to the diet, you may still experience a craving for comfort food items like popcorn, so make sure to be careful when having it on keto. If you find yourself overeating and not losing weight, then you might want to avoid popcorn to start with.
The safest way to eat popcorn is to use the stovetop method or an air popper so you can have control over what oils and any toppings you use, and you can avoid unnecessary artificial flavors and other unhealthy ingredients.
Lastly, if you want to enjoy popcorn on a keto diet, consider limiting other high-carb foods, so you don’t exceed your net carb limit.
Is Popcorn Keto-Friendly?
Popcorn has been a favorite by many people for thousands of years now. This nutritious whole-grain snack is loaded with fiber and minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.
But is it keto-friendly? By all means, enjoy a cup of popcorn as long as you don’t exceed your daily carb intake! If you want to have more, then limit other high-carb foods. Also, use the stovetop or air popper method to control the oil and toppings you use.
Popcorn is filling and low in calories, so it’s a healthy addition to the keto diet. Treat it like any other snack when you are dieting and have it in moderation. The key is to stay disciplined and know your limitations!
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