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Popcorn, which was already known to be a source of fiber, has higher levels of antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables, according to a new study.
Popcorn may be the next superfood.
Researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that popcorn contained more healthy antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables, while being high in fiber and low in calories, reported Postmedia News.
In sum, the "perfect snack food" - that is, if it is not doused with butter, oil or salt.
"Based on fiber, whole grains, and antioxidant levels, popcorn is the king of snack foods," said Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, according to WebMD.
The study found that popcorn contains up to 300 milligrams of polyphenols, an antioxidant that is known to fight cancer and help to lower cholesterol.
Popcorn, which is a 100 percent whole grain, is also high in fiber.
The study said that the high levels of antioxidants were due to the lack of water in each kernel, which tends to dilute the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
The study tested microwave popcorn and oven popped, finding that both packed high levels of antioxidants.
"Those hulls deserve more respect," said Vinson, according to Fox News. "They are nutritional gold nuggets."
Researchers did caution about eating popcorn at the expense of fruits and vegetables.
According to the Times of India, Vinson said, "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."