Today we want to talk about a type of food that can be prepared with oil, water, or simply hot air. It has several flavors: natural, buttery, caramel, and chocolate, among others. This snack food was once used as a hair ornament, and many love to devour it while watching a movie at home or at the cinema. If you’re reading this and think we’re talking about popcorn, you’re right!

We at Enlighten decided to tell you a bit about the history of popcorn. In addition, we did some research to learn more about the benefits of this food, how to prepare it in the healthiest way, and how to include it more in your diet. And for those who enjoy indulging in a cheat meal once in a while, we’ve also put together some of the best popcorn flavors you definitely need to try.

How popcorn was discovered

Corn was cultivated by ancient civilizations in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Originally, both the Incas and the Aztecs prepared popcorn by placing an entire ear of corn on the fire. They would also cook the grains directly on the coals or even in an earthen oven. Research has pointed out that popcorn might have been one of the pillars for the foundation of the Aztec empire, where Centéotl, the maize deity was worshipped.

Deciding if popcorn is bad or healthy

Pixabay/Pexel

Over time, the way people prepare popcorn has changed. Scientific studies discovered what the main components of this snack are, so to learn more about this topic, we interviewed the specialized nutritionist, Mayra Alecrim. According to the expert, popcorn has several nutrients that improve the functioning of the body.

  • B-complex vitamins help strengthen immunity, improve liver function, and help reduce fluid retention.
  • Manganese contributes to the formation of enzymes and helps improve memory.
  • Magnesium favors the formation of serotonin (responsible for inhibiting depression) and helps control the glycemic index, making it an excellent ally to those who suffer from diabetes.
  • Fiber improves the digestive system.
  • Also, it’s a low-calorie snack if cooked the right way.

The best way to prepare it

Alecrim advises preparing popcorn without oil and with a little salt, and say, “what causes popcorn to lose its main nutrients is the method of preparation.” Here’s what she recommends:

  • Put 4 to 5 tablespoons of popcorn in a glass pot.
  • Add 4 or 5 tablespoons of water.
  • Add a tablespoon of salt.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and punch holes in it with a toothpick.
  • Place it in the microwave for 4 minutes (depending on the power of the device).

To add more flavor, it’s advisable to add herbs like thyme, rosemary, or oregano to the water. “Popcorn made with too much oil or salt can contribute to weight gain and is not recommended for people with high cholesterol. Be careful with popcorn that comes with a lot of butter and sodium,” she warns. Electric popcorn machines that use neither water nor oil, but only hot air, are highly recommended.