Served by the bucket-load, dripping in butter, popcorn was once seen as little more than junk food for peckish cinemagoers.
But lately the snack has undergone a radical makeover, forging a name for itself as the low-calorie alternative to crisps for weight-conscious office workers.
And now scientists have discovered that popcorn is not only good for the waist – it’s brimming with more antioxidants than your average serving of fruit and vegetables.
New research has revealed that popcorn is made up of just 4% water so the antioxidants are less diluted than in fruit and vegetables, which can be made up of up to 90% water.
The study found that one serving of popcorn contains up to 300mg of antioxidants - known as polyphenols – nearly double the 160mg found in a serving of fruit.
The researchers also found the crunchy hulls of popcorn (those bits that have an annoying habit of sticking in your throat) have the highest concentration of antioxidants and fibre.
Researcher Jo Vinson said: “Those hulls deserve more respect. They are nutritional gold nuggets.”
Describing popcorn as “the perfect snack food”, he added: “It's the only snack that is 100 per cent 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% of the weight of the product is whole grain.
“One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70% 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.”
He added: “Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories while microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped."
But the researchers warned that popcorn should be seen as a supplement to your five-a-day, not an alternative, as it doesn’t contain the vital vitamins and nutrients found in fruit and vegetables.
Since the advent of low-carb diet fads, the reputation of the humble potato has taken a serious dive among the health-conscious. But while the simple spud might not count as one of your five-a-day, it is packed with potassium, which helps to counteract the negative effects of salt. It was also found in a recent study that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/09/01/is-the-humble-potato-the-new-superfood_n_945208.html" target="_hplink">eating a portion of potato twice a day can lower blood pressure</a>, while a separate study identified 60 different types of phytochemicals and vitamins in potato skins.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/06/red-wine-health-pros-and-cons_n_1257409.html" target="_hplink">From protecting your heart health and lowering breast cancer risk to fending off colds and treating gum disease, barely a week goes by without news of a study hailing a new health benefit of red wine</a>. But that daily glass (or half-bottle) could be causing more harm than good. A recent statement by the Royal College of Physicians advised drinkers to limit their alcohol consumption to four days a week.
We're not suggesting gorging yourself on family-sized bars of Dairy Milk but when eaten regularly, a small quantity of dark chocolate (with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids) can benefit your health in a number of ways. As well as being packed with antioxidants, it can reduce blood pressure and is a rich source of magnesium, which may help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. It also contains iron and potassium, linked to a reduced risk of blood pressure and stroke. Hello Green & Blacks...
It may have a higher fat content than your average spread, but peanut butter is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fat. Harvard Medical School researchers found that regularly snacking on peanut butter could nearly halve the risk of a heart attack. The spread is also high in protein, fibre and folate.
From <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/03/02/starbucks-stronger-coffee-british-latte_n_1315815.html#s747405&title=5_Health_Benefits" target="_hplink">decreasing depression in women and lowering prostate risk in men to protecting against skin cancer and reducing stroke risk</a>, your daily latte might not be as guilty a pleasure as you think.
The fiery condiment and Sunday roast staple is thought to improve digestion and boost liver function. It is also a rich source of iron and magnesium for energy production and calcium for healthy teeth and bones.