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Is Popcorn Recommended as Part of a Healthy Alzheimer’s diet?

Posted by on Sunday, April 30th, 2017

healthy snacks for the Alzheimer's diet


The number of healthy, quick to prepare snacks available for a healthy Alzheimer’s diet is somewhat limited, particularly if you purchase processed packaged food to save time.  But one tried and true low calorie, high fiber, all natural food for the Alzheimer’s diet is popcorn.  But, it’s important to note that all popcorn is not created equal. 

A Study on Popcorn

One study on the nutrition value of popcorn was conducted by Joe Vinson, Ph.D., of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.  The study, titled “Popcorn has More Antioxidants than Fruit,” was published in 2012 and it soon became very well known.  The findings of the study led Vinson to declare, “Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grains.”

Yes, that’s right, popcorn was found to have a very high concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols which function to fight free radicals. In fact, the study found that a serving of popcorn offered nearly twice the level of antioxidants found in fruit.  This is basically because the water in the fruit causes the antioxidants to be less concentrated than in the popcorn hulls-where the highest concentration of nutrients are located.  “Those hulls deserve more respect, they are nutritional gold nuggets,” said Vinson. The question is, how much of the nutrients are absorbed when the popcorn is digested in the body.  Scientists are unsure of just how bio-available (the process of making nutrients available to the body) popcorn is when ingested.

Other Health Benefits of Popcorn

Popcorn also provides a high level of fiber. In fact, just one serving can provide over 70% of the daily recommended intake of whole grain and 16% of the body’s requirement for fiber.  Fiber is known to help protect against heart disease and diabetes-2 risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

The high fiber level in popcorn makes it a great snack for those who want to lose weight.  Not only does popcorn help promote a feeling of fullness, the fiber helps to rid the body of excess fats.

Popcorn contains a significant amount of other nutrients such as manganese, which is needed for healthy bone structure.  Manganese is important for women during menopause to help protect against osteoporosis (a common condition of aging involving weakness of the bones).   

Which type of Popcorn is Best for the Alzheimer’s diet?

So, even though popcorn is a healthy snack for the Alzheimer’s diet, it’s important to note that not all popcorn is created equal.  In fact, some popcorn (the bagged microwave version) has chemicals that may even be considered toxic.

“Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories, of course,” Vinson said. “Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, and if you pop your own with oil, this has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself.”

 In general, the corn used to make popcorn does NOT come from GMO sources, but it is still subject to the effects of pesticides, so eating organic popcorn is best. 

Healthy Preparation of Popcorn

Even with all the health benefits popcorn offers, the way it’s served can quickly cause this healthy snack to become a nutritional nightmare.  The addition of fake butter, hydrogenated fats, salt and sugar (in kettle corn), can be detrimental to your health.

The old-fashioned type of popcorn that you pop in oil in a pan is considered a healthy option.  Coconut oil is a good choice for the oil because the high heat required to pop the corn won’t denature coconut oil (as it does with olive and other types of oil).  Air popping organic popcorn seeds is another healthy option (particularly for those on a weight loss diet who are attempting to limit excess fat). 

If you are like most people, you probably like salt on your popcorn, a healthy option is Himalayan Sea Salt.  Nutritional yeast flakes are a healthier choice for popcorn seasoning than the commercial brands which may have maltodextrin, MSG and/or other toxic chemicals.

A Word of Caution

If you have any type of inflammatory bowel disease or other problems with your digestive system, popcorn may not be the best food choice because it may irritate GI symptoms. Popcorn is a common culprit for potentiating diverticulitis.  Note, popcorn is NOT known to cause GI problems, rather it is known to aggravate symptoms after GI conditions occur.

Learn more about healthy snacks for the Alzheimer’s diet by CLICKING HERE to view the book “The Alzheimer’s Treatment and Prevention Diet,”  written by Harvard trained neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson, M.D.     

For more easy to follow nutrition advice check out The Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-Step Nutritional Approach to Memory Loss Prevention and Treatment, or visit to learn more about Neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson's 9 week diet plan and his cutting edge approach in the fight against AD in Alzheimer's Treatment | Alzheimer's Prevention: A Patient and Family Guide 2012 Edition. Also, sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates in AD treatment and prevention news.

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