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At a movie theater, a fair or a sporting event, or in your living room watching TV, unsalted popcorn is one of your healthiest snacking choices. Popcorn is easy to make, fun to eat and more nutritious than other common snacks, such as cookies, nachos and candy. Preparing your popcorn without salt reduces the sodium content and increases the benefits of this whole-grain snack.
Reduces Risk for Heart Disease
Your risk for heart disease decreases when you have a higher intake of whole grains such as popcorn, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. The potassium and magnesium in whole grains are associated with a lower risk for heart disease, and a cup of popcorn provides 92 milligrams of potassium, or 3 percent of the daily value, and 40 milligrams of magnesium, or 10 percent of the daily value. MayoClinic.com states that consuming adequate dietary fiber can lower your total and unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels, and a 1-ounce serving, or 3.5-cups of popped corn, provides 4.1 grams of dietary fiber, or 16 percent of the daily value.
Prevents High Blood Pressure
Unsalted popcorn can help you lower your blood pressure when you eat it instead of salted popcorn or other salty snacks. Each 3.5-cup serving of air-popped popcorn contains only 2 milligrams of sodium, or less than 1 percent of the daily value. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that healthy adults limit total daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams to prevent high blood pressure and an increased risk for stroke and kidney disease.
Aids Weight Control
With only 108 calories in a 3.5-cup serving, popcorn can help you limit your total calorie intake and prevent weight gain. Popcorn is a low energy-density food because it has a relatively low calorie content compared to its large serving size. Diets that emphasize high-volume, low-calorie foods, such as unsalted popcorn, can help you prevent weight gain by filling you up before you have eaten many calories, according to MayoClinic.com. Substituting unsalted popcorn for higher-calorie snacks, such as potato chips, can help you lower your calorie intake.
Tips and Precautions
The low sodium content of unsalted popcorn is one of its primary benefits. Be careful not to get extra sodium from hidden sources, such as salted butter or cheese- or butter-flavored toppings. Toppings such as butter, oil and caramel coating add extra calories but not many essential nutrients to popcorn. Because popcorn can be a choking hazard, young children should not eat it.