Move over, spinach—popcorn may want your spot on the list of superfoods.
Antioxidants help protect our cells—including reproductive cells—from damage. Fruits and vegetables are good sources for antioxidants, but one the most antioxidant-rich foods around? Popcorn! According to a surprising study, bite for bite, a serving of popcorn contains more concentrated amounts of antioxidants than even uber-healthy choices like spinach and citrus fruits.
Why? It has to do with water content, researchers explain. Because popcorn kernels have a low water content, antioxidant substances called polyphenols are more concentrated; in fruits and vegetables with higher water content, polyphenols become diluted. One serving of popcorn contains approximately 300 mg of polyphenols compared to 114 mg in a serving of sweet corn and 160 mg in a typical serving of fruit.
As part of a healthy preconception diet, popcorn may be the perfect snack food. But in an interview with ABC News, Dr. David Katz of Yale University notes that popcorn should not replace fruits or vegetables. Instead, eat it in place of unhealthier options like potato chips. "It would definitely be a good way to trade up your snacking," says Dr. Katz.
To maximize the health benefits of popcorn, experts say to stick to a serving size no larger than 4 cups of air-popped popcorn, which has about 100 calories. Sprinkle with herbs for flavor, but try to stay away from oil, butter, and salt, which can more than double the number of calories per serving and provide unnecessary fat and sodium.
Another reason to a little snap, crackle, and pop, to your preconceptions plans? Popcorn is also rich in the amino acid L-arginine, a substance shown to boost semen quality and sexual performance in men.