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The simple answer is – Yes! As a diabetic, you can eat popcorn. The fact that popcorn is a whole grain, makes it both healthy, and a popular choice for those looking for better snack alternatives. Popcorn is actually listed as one of the healthiest snack foods for those with diabetes. Part of that is due to the calorie density of popcorn. So Can Diabetics Eat Popcorn?
For example, one cup of popcorn made in an air popper has 31 calories. If prepared the right way, popcorn is a great alternative to high sugar, snack foods that are out there. Yet that does not mean, as a diabetic you can go crazy when it comes to popcorn.
To understand the question, can diabetics eat popcorn, you need to look at the bigger picture. You need to consider all the information around both diabetes and popcorn. Let’s start by looking at the glycemic index.
Popcorn and the Glycemic Index (GI)
The GI scale is used to measure the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream after you consume foods containing carbohydrates. The higher the rating is, the quicker it happens. The GI scale is rated from 1-100, with 1 being the low end of the scale, and 100 being pure glucose. So, what does this mean, you might be wondering? In simple terms, when you consume foods with a high GI rating, the higher your blood sugar will rise. This high rapid increase in blood sugar can cause hyperglycemia in diabetics.
With all that being said, popcorn is still the best choice for a healthier snack option. Air-popped popcorn technically falls on the lower end of the scale. Despite its rating on the scale of 55, popcorn is still a much better choice than other high sugar or salty options. This leads us to the next pressing question – Should diabetics eat movie theater popcorn?
Can Diabetics Eat Movie Theater Popcorn?
The immediate answer is, absolutely not. The reason for this is due to the quantity of salt and butter that theaters load their delicious popcorn with. Everything that causes spikes in your GI is unfortunately in the movie theater popcorn. Between the salt, butter, and hydrogenated oil, movie theater popcorn is rated really high on the glycemic scale.
I have known people to “cycle” their exercise and carbohydrate intake so they can consume that movie-style popcorn. They do things like pay attention to what time of day their body processes carbs the best. Then they plan their trip to the movie theater around that, followed up with some exercise after the movie. So technically no, diabetics should not eat movie theater popcorn, although there could be ways to work around it like mentioned above.
Diabetic Popcorn Seasoning
As healthy as popcorn is, let’s be honest. Some of the best parts you probably love about popcorn are the salt, butter, and all the deliciously yummy seasoning choices we have. If you are a diabetic though, these are all options that are not wise for you. That does not mean you are destined to a life of plain and ordinary popcorn. There is a world of options out there to create your own versions of popcorn seasoning. These tend to be a healthier option compared to other seasoning options you may have.
All one needs to do, is perform a search for “diabetic popcorn seasoning”, and you will find a lot of options to choose from. You will be able to make some delicious seasoning for your popcorn enjoyment. Kettle corn, as well as caramel corn and candy-coated corn should be avoided as well. All that extra sweetness comes loaded with an excessive amount of sugar.
What is the Nutritional Value of Popcorn?
One cup of air-popped popcorn that is unsalted, contains next to zero calories. You can enjoy it as a delicious treat without feeling guilty too. Popcorn contains zero cholesterol, and with it only containing 0.5g of fat per cup, you pretty much call it fat-free too. Which as a diabetic is especially important to your daily diet. As a whole grain food, air-popped popcorn is a source of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates.
Popcorn contains a healthy supply of vitamins and nutrients for your body. Most of the nutritional value comes from the kernel or hull. This is where the beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin call home. These are all important for maintaining proper eye health. Which again, as a diabetic, is important for you. Of course, if you are not careful about the cooking method, or type of popcorn you consume then this little blurb about the nutritional value is moot.
What Types of Popcorn Should Diabetics Buy?
Generally speaking, the healthiest popcorn is the whole kernel type. This popcorn contains none of the extra unhealthy “junk” that comes in microwave popcorn. There is no added oil, salt, sugar, or other ingredients that you as a diabetic should avoid. Buying the loose kernels allows you to cook the popcorn in a way that best suits your needs and personal preferences. If you choose to go with microwave popcorn, remember to read the label first.
As an alternative for diabetics, popcorn is a great option. Like all foods, popcorn comes with a suggested serving. Following these recommended serving sizes makes a noticeable difference in your calorie intake no matter the food you are consuming. Your popcorn seasoning choice will also influence the amount you should consume as well.
A study in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion lists popcorn without any of the extras like salt, butter, or hydrogenated oils, as a healthy snack option for those living with diabetes. So, what does all this mean for you?
Can diabetics eat popcorn? Yes, you can, as long as you do it wisely, and make sure that you are consuming healthy popcorn. Popcorn is a great source of some particularly important nutrients vital to your health as a diabetic. So yes, go enjoy some popcorn smartly, and keep it healthy.