What does popcorn have to do with well-being? Well, when circumstances leave me feeling unbalanced or I’ve reached my threshold for absorbing negativity I need to crunch—my version of teeth gnashing. My favorite standby is popcorn and plenty of it! I may have thought more about my personal stress-reducing backup plans after reading this week’s TIME magazine article Plan Your Way to Less Stress, more Happiness. The article addresses survey findings that 25% of our happiness hinges on how well we’re able to manage stress. I gave it some thought. Popcorn is MY favorite stress-management tool, and although I don’t know that everyone consciously eats it to crunch away stress, statistics reveal that Americans do consume some 16 billion quarts of popcorn yearly– that’s 52 quarts per man, woman, and child.
I think I’m fortunate that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and instead lean towards the salt-crunch-oil snack trifecta. Finger-food snacks like chips and cookies promise a brief period of feeling satisfied but are followed by an empty carbohydrate blood sugar free fall. Popcorn, on the other hand, is a whole grain containing a small amount of protein contributing satisfaction over a much longer period. And the good news for someone like me who cannot eat popcorn in small batches, it is favorably low in calories. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup. Oil-popped only 55 per cup. So munch away!
We all battle stressful situations and some days-weeks-months are more stressful than others. Significant numbers of us also use food to soothe. So my encouragement along these lines is to be prepared! I typically stuff a hefty ziplock with popcorn, (already popped so that I’m not ingesting whatever the chemical equivalent of artificial butter or oil is in those microwave packets) and keep it with me at work. It’s easy to grab when something tempting is sitting on the counter calling my name.
Choosing what we personally need to operate a bit more balanced is indeed subjective, and popcorn may not do it for you, but try it anyway as just another healthy food item. And if you want to up the ante a bit on boosting health potential, toss it with a little cumin or turmeric. Although these spices contain less Scoville units than some of the spicier peppers, they still offer many capsaicin benefits, including the possibility of lowering blood pressure and positively affecting cholesterol. Better than salt, these spices will probably also take your mind off whatever was bothering you in the first place with a bit of a kick from the heat. You may also require more thirst quenching and who drinks enough water?