Study examines impact of popcorn consumption

by Eric Schroeder
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MINNEAPOLIS — Individuals who eat popcorn have about a 250% higher intake of whole grains and a 22% higher intake of fiber than people who don’t, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The study, based on analysis of the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), was led by The Center for Human Nutrition (C.H.N.) and funded by ConAgra Foods, Inc. Omaha-based ConAgra owns the Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn brand.

According to the study, the C.H.N. used 24-hour dietary recall data from the NHANES survey to determine the average popcorn intake among Americans, and whether popcorn consumers exhibited different dietary intake patterns or physiological biomarkers of cardiovascular disease compared with non-popcorn consumers.

Popcorn consumers ate an average of 38.8 grams of popcorn a day, the study said, as well as approximately 2.5 servings of whole grains per day and 18.1 grams of fiber per day. This compared with 0.70 servings of whole grains per day and 14.9 grams of fiber per day for non-popcorn consumers, the study said.

Researchers also noted small but significant differences for intake of carbohydrates, magnesium, protein, niacin and folate. In addition, popcorn consumers had a higher intake of total grains and consumed fewer meat servings.

"Popcorn may offer a healthful alternative to energy-dense, low-nutrient dense snacks, and may have the potential to improve nutrient status in Americans of all ages and help them meet dietary guideline recommendations to consumer three whole grain servings per day," the researchers said.

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