Modern Chinese Vegetarian Appetizer

Popcorn: The Snack with Even Higher Antioxidants Levels than Fruits and Vegetables

Popcorn’s reputation as a snack food that’s actually good for health popped up a few notches today as scientists reported that it contains more of the healthful antioxidant substances called “polyphenols” than fruits and vegetables. They spoke at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, being held here this week.

Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a pioneer in analyzing healthful components in chocolate, nuts and other common foods, explained that the polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn, which averages only about 4 percent water, while polyphenols are diluted in the 90 percent water that makes up many fruits and vegetables.

In another surprising finding, the researchers discovered that the hulls of the popcorn — the part that everyone hates for its tendency to get caught in the teeth — actually has the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber.

“Those hulls deserve more respect,” said Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. “They are nutritional gold nuggets.”

The overall findings led Vinson to declare, “Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain. All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, and although cereals are called “whole grain,” this simply means that over 51 percent of the weight of the product is whole grain. One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way.”

Vinson cautioned, however, that the way people prepare and serve popcorn can quickly put a dent in its healthful image. Cook it in a potful of oil, slather on butter or the fake butter used in many movie theaters, pour on the salt; eat it as “kettle corn” cooked in oil and sugar — and popcorn can become a nutritional nightmare loaded with fat and calories.

“Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories, of course,” Vinson said. “Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, and if you pop your own with oil, this has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself.”

Likewise, Vinson pointed out that popcorn cannot replace fresh fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and other nutrients that are critical for good health, but are missing from popcorn.

Vinson explained that the same concentration principle applies to dried fruit versus regular fruit, giving dried fruit a polyphenol edge. Previous studies found low concentrations of free polyphenols in popcorn, but Vinson’s team did the first study to calculate total polyphenols in popcorn. The amounts of these antioxidants were much higher than previously believed, he said. The levels of polyphenols rivaled those in nuts and were up to 15 times greater than whole-grain tortilla chips.

The new study found that the amount of polyphenols found in popcorn was up to 300 mg a serving compared to 114 mg for a serving of sweet corn and 160 mg for all fruits per serving. In addition, one serving of popcorn would provide 13 percent of an average intake of polyphenols a day per person in the U.S. Fruits provide 255 mg per day of polyphenols and vegetables provide 218 mg per day to the average U.S. diet.

Source: American Chemical Society

Nutrient Data for Microwaved Low-fat Popcorn Snacks

Nutrient Unit Value per 100 g Value per oz

g 2.80 0.79

kcal 424 120

g 12.60 3.57
Total lipid (fat)

g 9.50 2.69
Carbohydrate, by difference

g 72.00 20.41
Fiber, total dietary

g 14.2 4.0
Sugars, total

g 0.92 0.26
Calcium, Ca

mg 11 3
Iron, Fe

mg 2.28 0.65
Magnesium, Mg

mg 151 43
Phosphorus, P

mg 264 75
Potassium, K

mg 241 68
Sodium, Na

mg 884 251
Zinc, Zn

mg 3.83 1.09
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid

mg 0.0 0.0

mg 0.350 0.099

mg 0.110 0.031

mg 2.070 0.587
Vitamin B-6

mg 0.170 0.048
Folate, DFE

µg 17 5
Vitamin B-12

µg 0.00 0.00
Vitamin A, RAE

µg 12 3
Vitamin A, IU

IU 238 67
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

mg 0.50 0.14
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)

µg 0.0 0.0
Vitamin D

IU 0 0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)

µg 1.5 0.4
Fatty acids, total saturated

g 1.415 0.401
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated

g 4.085 1.158
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated

g 3.572 1.013

mg 0 0

mg 0 0

Source: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 25

See my related posts:

Contemporary Western Cuisine

The Food

The Restaurant – The Cut, Beijing

Ready-to-eat Salad Mix of Baby Leaves in A Cup

The product was introduced to the local market in Hong Kong recently.

The vegetables are grown in controlled environment using hydroponic production technology by the Vegetable Marketing Organization in Hong Kong.

The salad mix include five varieties of crispy and tasty young baby leaf vegetables.

  1. Mizuna – Crispy, high calcium
  2. Rocket – Mildly spicy with sesame flavour, rich in beta-carotene
  3. Oak Leaf Lettuce – Nutty flavour, high calcium
  4. Red Asian Mustard – Crispy, slightly spicy with peanut flavor, high magnesium
  5. Chinese Flat Cabbage – Taste like cabbage, rich in beta-carotene

Characteristic of the Hydroponic Baby Leaves:

  • Locally grown: Baby leaf is locally produced and distributed. Freshness is guaranteed.
  • Ready-to-eat: Good for immediate consumption. Washing is not necessary.
  • No pesticides: Pesticide-free production assures no pesticide residues.
  • No contamination: Baby leaf is produced in an enclosed and clean environment. Water is treated and purified to prevent contamination.

Each cup of 30 g iVeggie is sold for HK$18 (about US$2.30).

Sorghum Verified As A New Safe Grain for People with Celiac Disease

Strong new biochemical evidence exists showing that the cereal grain sorghum is a safe food for people with celiac disease, who must avoid wheat and certain other grains, scientists are reporting. Their study, which includes molecular evidence that sorghum lacks the proteins toxic to people with celiac disease, appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Paola Pontieri and colleagues explain that those gluten proteins, present in wheat and barley, trigger an immune reaction in people with celiac disease that can cause abdominal pain and discomfort, constipation, diarrhea and other symptoms. The only treatment is lifelong avoidance of gluten. Sorghum, they note, has emerged as an alternative grain for people with celiac disease. In Western countries, sorghum traditionally has been an animal feed. But in Africa and India, it long has been a food for people. Recently, U.S. farmers have begun producing sorghum hybrids that are a white grain, known as “food-grade” sorghum. The researchers set out to make a detailed molecular determination of whether sorghum contains those toxic gluten proteins.

They describe evidence from an analysis of the recently published sorghum genome, the complete set of genes in the plant, and other sources, that verify the absence of gluten proteins. The authors also report that sorghum has high nutritional value. “Food-grade sorghums should be considered as an important option for all people, especially celiac patients,” the report concluded.

Source: American Chemical Society