Is Carb in Popcorn Suitable for Keto Diet?

Is Carb in Popcorn Suitable for Keto Diet?

Popcorn has made a long way from the caves to becoming America’s favorite low-calorie snacks. It was first discovered in Bat Cave, New Mexico [1] around 5,600 years. Historians Herbert Dick and Earle Smith found popped kernels and tiny corns in the cave in 1948. Corn was one of the most grown grains in South and North America and was also used as decoration by Aztec Indians and Pueblo Indians.

Is Carb in Popcorn Suitable for Keto Diet?

Did you know that on popping, the corn can go as high as three feet in the air? According to Guinness World Records 2015, Indiana State Fair created the world’s largest popcorn in 2013. It was eight feet in diameter and weighed 6,510 pounds [2]. Charles Cretors takes the credit for inventing the world’s first popcorn machine in 1885. Microwave popcorn was introduced almost a century later in 1981 and today has become a household staple of every American home. Today, Americans consume 17 billion quarts [2] of popcorn every year, proving it to become one of the most wholesome and economical foods available.

What is popcorn?

Loaded with essential micronutrients, popcorn is a low-carb snack made using corn kernel. It contains around 14 to 20 percent of moisture at its center inside the endosperm, which when subjected to heat, expands and forces the corn kernel to explode. The grain has a strong hull, which further helps in the explosion. The innermost part is the germ, which is the only living part of the kernel. When germinated, the germ grows into the shoot and root.

A solid hull covers the two components and is made up of cellulose, which humans are unable to digest. It can either be white, yellow, black, purple, or red in color. A few indigenous varieties are available in some really interesting colors. The United States is the largest producer of corn in the world, and most of the farming is concentrated in Corn Belt states [3] of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio. The North American country is also the largest consumer of popcorn.

Popcorn Facts - How many carbs per serving of popcorn?

One serving of popcorn contains 15 grams of net carbohydrates and totals to 92 calories. It is made up of three cups of popcorns, which makes up to around 30 grams or two tablespoons of corn kernels. If you are on a keto diet, you should one consume of one cup of air-popped popcorn as it contains five grams of carbohydrates making it an ideal keto snack.

One serving contains three grams of protein, one gram of fat, and 3.6 grams of fiber. Popcorn also contains rich amounts of copper, magnesium, zinc, and manganese with percentages ranking from six to 12 percent, depending upon the variety [4]. Popcorn is a rich source of polyphenols, a family of antioxidants that offers age reversing, fat reducing, and anti-inflammatory benefits. The University of Scranton [5] made the discovery in 2012. It also supports balance digestive health, blood circulation, and reduces chances of cancer, especially breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Popcorn health benefits

Other than being a great snack as a part of a low-carb diet, popcorn has a lot more benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits offered by popcorn:

1. Weight loss

One cup of popcorn only contain 30 calories, most of which come from the five grams of net carbohydrates. It contains five times fewer calories in fried potato chips [5] of the same amount. It is low in saturated fat and high in dietary fiber, which helps control overeating. Popcorn also inhibits the activity of hunger hormone, ghrelin, which further helps to prevent the tendency of overeating.

Popcorn Health Benefits

2. Maintain blood sugar

The dietary fiber in popcorn helps to reduce high blood sugar levels and in turn, lowers the risks associated with diabetes mellitus. The fiber binds with sugar in the stomach, and since it can’t be digested by humans, it carries the sugar out of the body. You get 3.6 grams of fiber when you consume 30 grams of popcorn, which is an amazing and tasty way to meet the requirements. According to US RDA [6] women require 25 grams and men require 38 grams of dietary fiber daily.

3. Lowers cholesterol

When the dietary fiber bounds to sugar in the stomach and intestines, it also absorbs fat, which in turn reduces blood cholesterol levels. Once the body sees a depreciation in fat, it uses up the cholesterol available in the blood and stabilizes the whole dynamics. Lowering of cholesterol decreases the chances of suffering from dangerous lifestyle-related cardiovascular disorders like strokes, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis.

4. Improves digestion

Popcorn is a whole grain comprising of a germ, endosperm, and a hull, which protects vitamins and minerals and makes them available for human consumption. The fiber content ensures regular bowel movement and avoids conditions like constipation. If you tend to get constipated often, one serving of popcorn daily will reduce the recurrences. When your fecal cycle is good, you tend to suffer from fewer illnesses as the body is receiving all vitamins and minerals required to maintain a strong immune system.

5. Increases bone density  

One hundred grams of popcorn has 36 percent of US RDA of magnesium, which can be important mineral for maintaining bone density. The mineral helps in better absorption of calcium, which is a major mineral of our skeletal system. It helps in denser bone crystal formation and reduces occurrences of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

If your diet is poor in magnesium, your body loses the majority of the ingested calcium. This puts a pressure on the kidneys to filter it out from the blood and puts the person at risk for arterial calcification, which can then lead to kidney stones.

6. Boosts metabolism

Magnesium from corn kernel is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions of food metabolism. It helps in the synthesis of protein and fat along with transmission of nerve impulse. Popcorn also is a rich source of B complex vitamins especially B3, B6, pantothenic acid, and folate, which plays a crucial role in metabolism as well.

7. Prevents food cravings

One serving air-popped popcorn contains only 92 calories, making it a great lightweight snack that has satiating effects. It also gives you enough protein and dietary fiber along with inhibiting ghrelin production, a hormone that increases hunger. If you feel hungry, just have a bowl of popcorn and drink a tall glass of water and all your cravings will go away.

8. Anti-aging

Our lifestyle and dietary habits lead to increased production of free radicals, which reflects on our face as wrinkles, fine lines, and tiredness. Free radicals also lead to muscle fatigue, osteoporosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and hair loss. To reduce all these effects of free radicals, the person should consume antioxidant and popcorn just happens to be a good source of polyphenols. They are powerful antioxidants that have strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Popcorn Ant-aging

How do Popcorn and Keto Diet fit together?

Going on a ketogenic diet can be difficult for many people because they have to stop eating some of their most favorite foods completely. In the first few days, your body is going through a lot of major changes,and it is obvious that you will crave carbohydrates. A keto diet demands complete dedication. It is high fat and moderate protein diet with the very low amount of carbohydrate consumption. The diet helps in rapid weight loss and reduces inflammation and has become very popular in the last few years.

How do Popcorn and Keto Diet fit together?

When you are in a ketogenic diet, you can only consume 25 grams of net carbohydrates. If you are having five meals a day, it divides into five grams each for five meals. This brings us to the question - does popcorn and keto diet go together? Well, the answer is yes but only in moderation.

One serving of popcorn contains 15 net grams of carbohydrates, which doesn’t make it a good keto snack. However, since one serving contains three cups, you can eat one cup of popcorn. One cup of popcorn only contains five grams of net carbs, which fits into the five grams of net carbs per meal requirement perfectly. However, since it isn’t calorie dense, it isn’t recommended as a keto snack. But if you are addicted to popcorn and can’t give it up, you can eat it with added oil or butter.

What Ketogenic Diet Are You In?

What Ketogenic Diet Are You In?

Further, you can adjust the amount depending on the type of ketogenic diet you are on. Depending on your diet, you need to focus on your calorie intake. While it may seem a bit tiring at first to figure things out, you will get used to it before you know it. There several types of keto diets but the four most popular ones include:

1. Cyclical ketogenic diet

In this type of diet, you follow a keto diet for five days and normal diet, which is still low-carb, for two days. You can consume one serving of popcorn during the non-keto low-carb diet days and one cup on keto days.

2. Targeted ketogenic diet

In this diet type, you consume a higher amount of carbs whenever you exercise. On the days that you don’t exercise, you consume recommendations according to the Standard ketogenic diet.

3. Standard ketogenic diet

In a standard ketogenic diet, you stick to the normal recommendations, which is 75 percent healthy fat, 20 percent protein, and only 5 percent net carbohydrates.

4. High-protein ketogenic diet

In a high-protein ketogenic diet, you decrease fat by 15 percent and increase protein by 15 percent. The division looks like this - 60 percent healthy fat, 35 percent protein and 5 percent net carbohydrates.

Popcorn snacks for a keto diet

There are so many ways you can make your favorite snack into a wholesome ketogenic snack. Here are some ways you can turn popcorn into a keto snack:

1. Add butter or oil

Before you pop the corn kernels, add two teaspoons of butter or MCT oil or olive oil and a little bit of sea salt. You can add your favorite non-sugar containing seasoning as well. Fat makes popcorn taste so much better. The popcorn also gets more puffed up because of the fat.

2. Grate cheese

After you air-pop the corn, grate some cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese to increase the nutrient density. It adds a new flavor and gives a slightly crispy feel to the popcorn.

3. Mix pork rinds

Add butter and cheese to the popcorn and cut up some pork rinds. Add them to the popcorn and indulge in the super delicious snack. Pork rinds contain up to 40 percent unsaturated healthy fat and is a good source of protein as well. The snack mix will help you curb cravings and carbohydrate hunger pangs. This is another healthy keto diet snack rich of healthy oil and fats.

4. Add salt

It is very common for keto diet beginners to suffer from keto flu, which is caused because of withdrawal from carbohydrates. Symptoms of keto flu include a headache, cramps, dizziness, nausea, brain fogging, difficulty in concentrating, constipation, fatigue, mood swings, and stomach pain. It can be cured by simply balancing the electrolytes. Add oil and salt to the popcorn, and you will start feeling a lot better.

Alternative to keto popcorn snack

While popcorn only proves to be an occasional keto snack, you need to find some more sustainable options. Let’s take a look at some amazing alternatives to keto popcorn snacks:

1. Cheddar cheese popcorn

This is a simple snack that only uses one ingredient -- cheddar cheese. Cut the cheese into small pieces and leave it to fry for four to five hours. Pop them in the microwave,and they will explode as a corn kernel does. They are absolutely delicious, low in carbs, high in fat and protein, and a rich source of magnesium. Make a mix of minced garlic with butter and brush it on the popcorn.

2. Pepperoni keto chips

Another one ingredient recipe, pepperoni keto chips require a little bit more work than cheddar cheese popcorn. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line the baking tray with a parchment paper. Place one piece of pepperoni separately and bake for five minutes. Take it out and use a tissue paper to soak the excess oil. Bake for another five minutes. You can eat these chips with mayonnaise or guacamole and also makes a great house party snack. The snack is a good source of healthy fats, protein, and dense with calories, just like you expect a keto snack to be.

3. Nuts

Simple and easy, just toss some almonds, pecans, and walnuts and low carb seeds in some butter. You can add avocado oil or canola oil if you want. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and munch on the snacks. They are high in fiber, healthy fats, especially omega-3, and protein. It is also rich in calories. One serving contains one handful of nuts.

4. Cheese crackers

Mix cheese, cream cheese and almond flour in a bowl and heat it in the microwave for a minute. Once the mixture cools down, add an egg to it. Mix it properly, so that you get a dough like consistency. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Roll the dough and cut it into squares. Place them on the tray and bake for six minutes each side for 450 degrees Fahrenheit. You can take in bulk and grab a couple every time you feel hungry.

Cheese crackers

Is popcorn a bad carb?

If you are asking is popcorn a bad carb, it has a debatable answer. While some believe popcorn should never be a part of a keto diet, others believe that it doesn’t hurt to consume it in moderation. If you look into the specifications, corn is a whole grain and contains fiber-rich polysaccharide that supplies carbohydrates to the body in a limited amount for a prolonged time.

Popcorn that is ready to eat or comes in microwavable packages is less healthy and contains a high amount of sugar and preservatives. You can instead buy corn kernels and pop them in the microwave. Add some salt, butter, and seasoning and munch on them. You can add and create new recipes by adding five spice seasoning, grated Parmesan cheese, chili powder, or cayenne pepper. Control on the salt and don’t add more than two pinches. Remember, if you are on keto, don’t have more than one cup of popcorn. During other times, an entire serving of 30 grams wouldn’t hurt.

We would suggest trying out popcorn if you like, and then see how you feel. It’s one of the indicators as to whether your body will be able to absorb its carbs as you want it to.

[1] https://www.thespruceeats.com/the-history-of-popcorn-1328768

[2] https://www.popcorn.org/Facts-Fun/Industry-Facts

[3] https://www.popcorn.org/Facts-Fun/Industry-Facts#States

[4] https://www.popcorn.org/Nutrition/Popcorn-Nutritional-Information

[5] http://news.scranton.edu/articles/2012/03/popcorn-study.shtml

[6] https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/cereal/popcorn.html

[7] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/popcorn-nutrition-and-health#section4

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