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Healthy Microwave Popcorn Choices

Healthy Microwave Popcorn Choices

Top Rated Microwave Popcorn

The top four rated microwave popcorns! We all know -- or should know -- that popcorn is officially a whole-grain snack.

Which Are Best?

With the plethora of brands and varietes available on the market, do you know which are best?

Save yourself time and money and try going with one (or all!) of the following four highly-rated, healthy microwave popcorn choices!

#1: Newman's Own Organics Pop's Corn, Light Butter

Newman's short ingredient list is all organic, with no hydrogenated oils. It is not quite as buttery as the Smart Balance Light Butter, but is great if you are in the mood for something that tastes less intense.

Each serving (3.5 cups popped) has 140 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 130 milligrams of sodium. Priced at $2.99 for three, 3-ounce bags; availabe at Whole Foods Markets and other natural grocery stores nationwide.

Jolly Time 100-Calorie Mini Bags, Healthy Pop Butter Flavor

There is a small amount of partially hydrogenated soybean oil in this brand, but the 100-calorie bag is still great for nights alone with a good movie.

Each Serving: The whopping 5-fluffy-cup serving has 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, no saturated fat and 200 milligrams of sodium. Priced at $2.39 for four, 1.2-ounce bags; available at grocery stores nationwide.

Newman's Own Organics Pop's Corn 94-percent Fat Free Unsalted

If you prefer all natural popcorn, or dressing it up with your own flavorings, this is the bare-bones pick for you. Like the Newman's Own, this one has no partially hydrogenated oils and is organic.

Each serving (3.5 cups) has 120 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, and 30mg of sodium. Pop it up, add just a pinch of salt, and you have the perfect snack.

Smart Balance Light Butter

Smart Balance's buttery flavor makes you feel like you're at the movies -- without the grease and guilt. With no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, just 100 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat and 85 milligrams of sodium per serving (4 popped cups), this popcorn gives you a satisfying snack without ruining your diet.

Growing Fresh Herbs

Mix and Match Herbal Popcorn Sprinkles

Reduce or eliminate salt and add herbal flavors to your healthy microwave popcorn choices with your own garden grown dried herbs. Or, a few from the grocery. For easy preparation, make several different sprinkles at one time and store in labeled shaker-top bottles. Each recipe uses dried and finely powdered herbs and makes about one-half cup. A great kids' project-the sprinkles make unique gifts, too!

Mama Mia Sprinkle.
2 tablespoons each of basil, thyme, marjoram, garlic powder.
Serve with a shaker of Parmesan cheese.

Creole Crazy Sprinkle.
2 tablespoons of paprika.
1 tablespoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil.
1 one-half teaspoons each of thyme, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, salt.

MexiCorny Sprinkle.
2 tablespoons each of chili powder (mild, medium, or hot), parsley flakes, cumin.
1 tablespoon each of onion powder and garlic powder.
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Increased Whole Grain and Fiber Levels for Popcorn Eaters

People who eat popcorn have an approximately 250 percent higher daily intake of whole grains and a 22 percent higher daily intake of fiber than non-popcorn eaters, according to researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition, Nutrition Impact LLC and ConAgra Foods. A high intake of whole-grain foods has been linked with reduced risk for coronary disease, stroke and various types of cancer and may protect against type 2 diabetes. Yet fewer than 10 percent of Americans consume the recommended three servings per day. The researchers conclude: "Popcorn may offer a healthful alternative to energy-dense, low-nutrient-dense snacks, and may have the potential to improve nutrient status in Americans of all ages and help them meet dietary guideline recommendations to consume three whole-grain servings per day." The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide 3rd Edition (Wiley & Sons) recommends using a hot-air popper which requires no oil, so popcorn can be a quick, low-fat, low-calorie snack.

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