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From Our Freshologists: A Healthier Popcorn

In college, I knew a student who ate popcorn every day. Sometimes she sprinkled it with parmesan cheese, sometimes just a little salt; often it would be her entire dinner.

Her obsessive eating habits aside, she was actually making a decent choice. Especially compared to other snack foods, popcorn is high in fiber, filling, and, as long as you eat the air-popped or plain microwave kinds, it’s not even that high in fat. And recently, researchers discovered that popcorn is rich in antioxidants – the disease-fighting, immune-boosting nutrients that we are all supposed to be eating more of.

So I bet my popcorn-loving friend would have loved Black Jewell popcorn.

True-black kernels that pop into snowy-white popcorn, Black Jewell is nutty, tender and fluffy, and pops really well, with a smaller kernel but few hulls to get stuck in your teeth. You don’t get a lot of “widows” with this brand, either, and those that you get are actually kind of tasty, almost like a Corn Nut.

But if you’re health-conscious, there’s another reason to like it. Black Jewell popcorn can have almost twice as much of the antioxidants, polyphenols, as white kernel popcorn. (The loose kernel black popcorn, which you make in your own hot-air or hot-oil popper, has the most; the microwave variety isn’t quite as antioxidant riche, but still contains more than regular white or yellow popcorn.) Because of its natural dark color, this black popcorn also contains anthocyanins, another type of antioxidant that other popcorns don’t contain.

Black Jewell comes from a small company in Illinois that has been selling the unusual kernels since the 1960s, and makes many sustainable choices. (Their microwave products, for instance, come in unbleached, natural paper bags.) They also distribute Crimson Jewell, a red popcorn that also pops white, with a crimson center, and which has many of the good antioxidant qualities as the black variety. I just may relive my college days, and have some for dinner tonight.