Popcorn in Pregnancy – Health Benefits and Risks
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- Is Popcorn Safe During Pregnancy?
- Nutritional Value of Popcorn
- Health Benefits of Eating Popcorn During Pregnancy
- Risks of Consuming Popcorn when Pregnant
- How to Eat Popcorn?
- Best Popcorn for Pregnant Women to Eat
- Which Popcorn Toppings Are Safe and Healthy for Pregnant Women to Consume?
- What Popcorn Toppings Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a time when you crave for the most delicious foods and want to try everything that comes to your mind. Since you are carrying a baby, depends on you for nutrition, you also need to make sure that you eat healthy and safe food.
During pregnancy, you have to be careful about what you eat. Your doctor will advise you to quit eating any junk food that you used to eat earlier. This can be hard, as there is a high chance that one of your go-to snacks is junk food. Some people consider popcorn to be junk food, while others call it microwaved corn. So, what’s the truth? Read on to know if it’s safe to eat popcorn during pregnancy.
Is Popcorn Safe During Pregnancy?
Corn is a crop rich in fibre, protein and carbohydrates. All these ingredients are essential in the strength building of the human body. While pregnant, corn is popularly believed to help both the mother and the baby. Corn is rich in carbohydrates but has fewer nutrients than other greens and vegetables. Hence, it should be consumed in moderation.
Nutritional Value of Popcorn
Popcorn is one of those snacks which has quite a few nutrients. Surprised, aren’t you? Yes, although most people consume it as a snack and are unaware of its nutrition, popcorn has many benefits.
Popcorn is a whole grain and has high amounts of zinc. It also has minerals and vitamins that are good for pregnant women. Here is a tabular representation of the nutritional components of popcorn:
|Dietary Fiber||3.5 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.2 g|
Health Benefits of Eating Popcorn During Pregnancy
If you are wondering about the benefits of popcorn, here are a few of the fantastic health benefits that come with munching your favourite snack.
1. High In Protein
Popcorn is an excellent source of protein which helps in supplying amino acids to the body. These are needed for the growth of the baby, especially during the second and third trimester.
2. Healthy Snack
One benefit of popcorn is that you don’t have to worry about gaining weight. This is because it is high in fibre and low in calories. Having good weight during pregnancy is not just cosmetic but has been known to reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and miscarriage.
3. Folate Intake
Popcorn contains folate, a B vitamin crucial for fetal development. It helps prevent neural tube defects and supports healthy cell division.
4. Digestive Health
The dietary fibre in popcorn can aid in preventing constipation, a common issue during pregnancy, by promoting regular bowel movements and supporting overall digestive health.
Did you even imagine that your favourite snack could have so many benefits? Well, it’s true, so don’t curb your popcorn cravings.
Risks of Consuming Popcorn when Pregnant
Popcorn is a safe option for pregnancy. However, there are a few hurdles that make it unsafe. Popcorn, in itself, is healthy. However, the add-ons like butter and cheese or caramel popcorn can create health issues. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind while consuming popcorn:
- Microwave popcorn is not safe.
- Watch out for popcorn with added flavours; some flavourings, like chicken popcorn, can create issues. So, make sure your popcorn has no added taste or artificial flavour.
- Salt is what gives popcorn that unique taste. However, too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, making it unhealthy.
- Make sure that your popcorn is well-cooked.
- Transfat found in butter or margarine-lathered microwave popcorn can develop health issues.
- Popcorn can pose a choking hazard, especially if it’s not popped thoroughly or has un-popped kernels.
- If popcorn is not stored, handled, or prepared correctly, there’s a risk of microbial contamination, such as from bacteria like Salmonella or Listeria.
How to Eat Popcorn?
If you are pregnant, make sure you are taking popcorn healthily. You can still use some salt, butter, and flavours. But reduce the quantity of the topping you add. So if you ensure that your popcorn is cooked well, with no added flavours and not prepared in the microwave, you are good to go. Consume popcorn in moderation, as one may miss out on other nutrient-dense veggies if they are too full after eating it.
Best Popcorn for Pregnant Women to Eat
When it comes to enjoying popcorn during pregnancy, choosing options with taste and nutritional benefits is essential. While many types of popcorn are safe to consume, some varieties provide additional advantages for expectant mothers. Here are a few options that can be considered the best popcorn choices for pregnant women:
1. Air-Popped Popcorn
Air-popped is a great choice, typically prepared without added oils or fats. This means you can enjoy the natural flavours of popcorn without unnecessary additives. It’s also lower in calories, making it a healthier snacking option.
2. Organic Popcorn
Opting for organic popcorn can be beneficial during pregnancy as it reduces the exposure to pesticides and chemicals that might be present in conventionally grown corn. Look for certified organic popcorn to ensure you make a safer choice for yourself and your baby. You can try popcorn with apple and milk; it is very nutritional.
3. Low-Sodium Popcorn
Choosing popcorn with minimal added salt or sodium content is wise, as excessive sodium intake can lead to water retention and increased blood pressure. Look for brands that offer low-sodium varieties, or consider making your own at home with controlled seasoning.
4. Whole Grain Popcorn
Popcorn is a whole grain, and selecting varieties that specifically state “100% whole grain” ensures full nutritional benefits. Whole grains provide essential nutrients and dietary fibre, which are important for digestion and overall health during pregnancy.
Which Popcorn Toppings Are Safe and Healthy for Pregnant Women to Consume?
Finding safe and nutritious popcorn toppings is essential for pregnant women looking to enjoy this classic snack while ensuring their health and well-being. Fortunately, several toppings can enhance the flavour and provide additional nutritional benefits. Here are some safe and healthy popcorn toppings for pregnant women to consider:
- Grated Parmesan Cheese: Adds a savoury kick and a dose of calcium.
- Nutritional Yeast: Imparts a cheesy flavour and provides B vitamins.
- Cinnamon: This adds sweetness without added sugar and has potential blood sugar benefits.
- Chopped Nuts: Offers healthy fats and extra protein, but ensure they’re well-chopped to prevent choking.
- Dried Fruit Bits: Provides natural sweetness and a touch of fibre.
- Herbs and Spices: Experiment with options like rosemary, thyme, or paprika for added flavour without extra calories.
- Dark Chocolate Drizzle: A touch of melted dark chocolate can satisfy sweet cravings and contribute antioxidants.
- Olive Oil Spray: Adds a hint of healthy fat and flavour without excessive calories.
- Roasted Garlic Powder: Imparts a savory taste and potential immune-boosting benefits.
- Lemon Zest: Adds a refreshing citrusy twist along with vitamin C.
What Popcorn Toppings Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
While popcorn during pregnancy can be a delightful and nutritious choice, it’s important to be cautious about certain toppings that might not suit expectant mothers. Steering clear of potentially harmful toppings ensures a safe and healthy snacking experience. Some popcorn toppings should be avoided during pregnancy:
- High-Sodium Seasonings: Toppings like excessive salt, seasoned salt, or soy sauce can increase sodium intake, potentially leading to water retention and elevated blood pressure.
- Uncooked Eggs or Meat: Toppings like raw egg-based sauces or uncooked meats like bacon bits can risk foodborne illnesses like Salmonella or Listeria.
- Unpasteurized Cheese: Toppings made from unpasteurised or soft cheeses, like blue cheese or goat cheese, can contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria, which poses a greater risk during pregnancy.
1. Can Popcorn Cause Constipation in Pregnancy?
Popcorn, especially in moderation, can help prevent constipation during pregnancy. Its dietary fibre content promotes regular bowel movements and supports digestive health. However, drinking plenty of water alongside fibre-rich foods like popcorn is important to ensure proper hydration, which can further prevent constipation.
2. Can You Gain Weight If You Consume Popcorn While Pregnant?
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal. Popcorn, when prepared healthily, can be a satisfying and relatively low-calorie snack option. Air-popped popcorn without excessive butter or oil can be a good choice for a crunchy and filling snack that won’t contribute significantly to weight gain. Moderation is key, and focusing on a well-balanced diet is important to support your health and your baby’s development.
If you think that your pregnancy period is a time in life when you have to get rid of all your cravings, then you are wrong. When you are pregnant, you don’t have to stop enjoying all the good stuff out there. Of course, you have to eliminate the unhealthy and junk food options, but there are some healthy items to satisfy your tastes. Next time you pick a bowl of popcorn, just enjoy it and be satisfied that it is helping you.
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2. Oregon State University; Micronutrient Needs During Pregnancy and Lactation; https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/life-stages/pregnancy-lactation
3. Kristina Sauerwein; High-fructose diet during pregnancy may harm placenta, restrict fetal growth; Washington University School Of Medicine in St. Louis; https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/high-fructose-diet-pregnancy-may-harm-placenta-restrict-fetal-growth/; May 2016
4. 10 healthy snacks for added energy in pregnancy; Tommy’s: Together for every baby; https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/nutrition-in-pregnancy/10-super-snacks-help-your-baby-grow
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