"The Grinch Who Stole Popcorn" could be the title of this iconic American snack's biography. The once-noble munchable's reputation has been badly damaged. First, we find out that a bag of popcorn and a soda at the movies delivers more than 1,600 calories and a nuclear bomb of saturated fat (60 grams!). Second, we discover that we've fallen for a chemical-laced toxic treat called microwave popcorn. (The packaging sheds perfluorooctanoic acid, a carcinogen that lingers in the body.)
Well, we're here to declare the return of popcorn, the 100 percent whole grain goodie that - when prepared correctly - delivers the highest dose of heart-protecting phytonutrients of any grain around. It's high-fiber, too, and that helps control your lousy cholesterol levels (LDL), smoothes digestion and makes your heart younger. And 4 cups of fat-free popcorn has only 100 calories! So if you're yearning for a tasty snack:
-Opt for organic popcorn, if you can find it. That may help you avoid genetically modified corn.
-Prepare the popcorn in an air popper, which uses heat, NOT oil (and we mean NONE! NADA! NYET!), to fluff up the crunchy kernels.
-And finally, decorate your bountiful bowlful with healthful flavorings: garlic (helps reduce the risk of some cancers and control blood pressure), cinnamon (stabilizes blood sugar), hot paprika and red-pepper flakes (may ease joint pain), curry (blocks Alzheimer's and stomach problems) and fresh basil (it just tastes so good!). Your imagination is the only limit to the fat-fee, sugar-free, health-bestowing flavors you can enjoy.
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.