Pregnancy is a very special and very different experience for all expectant mothers. If you are fortunate enough to not suffer from nausea during your pregnancy, one of the major perks of being pregnant has got to be the food right?
The food, glorious, food! However, as the world has become more aware of the benefits and risks of nutrition and safe/harmful foods to eat during pregnancy, long gone are the days when eating for two was the standard practice.
Instead, there is much more focus on what foods we should eat to adequately cater for our baby’s needs, as well as our own, through all 9 months of pregnancy.
Whilst it is important to enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible and indulge in your weird and wonderful pregnancy cravings, it is also important to make sure that your craving or pre-pregnancy favorite food is going to be safe for your baby.
You will be given advice from medical professionals, online blogs, friends, and well-meaning (yet slightly annoying at times) relatives. They will tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat and drink, and which foods you should cut out altogether. It can altogether be a minefield of conflicting information.
So, what if your favorite snack or craving is popcorn? Pretty healthy right? Or is it?
In this article, we look at if popcorn is safe to eat during pregnancy, what nutritional values it has, and if there are any risks associated with eating too much of it.
Is Popcorn Safe To Eat During Pregnancy?
Corn is a rich source of carbohydrates and so is actually considered a safe and fairly nutritious snack during pregnancy if eaten in its natural form. However, popcorn is nutritionally dense and does not provide the variety of vitamins and minerals contained in other greens and vegetables.
Similarly, popcorn can be flavored with salt and sugars which will altogether change it from a moderately healthy snack to one which is a little less healthy, and a bit more indulgent. For this reason, it is recommended to be eaten in moderation, and not as a primary food source.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of Popcorn?
As popcorn is a whole grain it has several nutrients within it that make it a good choice for a snack or treat. There is evidence that the consumption of whole grains as part of a balanced diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and reduce inflammation.
Popcorn has a high volume of magnesium and zinc (56% and 21% RDA respectively), as well as serving a range of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B1, B3, and B6. It is also a great source of iron so when eaten correctly, can be a good nutritional choice for pregnant women.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Popcorn While Pregnant?
If popcorn is your snack of choice during pregnancy, here are some awesome reasons why popcorn is a great choice:
High In Protein
As well as being a good source of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, popcorn is also considered an excellent source of protein. Protein is important for helping to supply amino acids to the body.
Amino acids play an important role during pregnancy as they aid in the development and growth of a baby in the womb.
Popcorn is a snack that is high in fiber and low in calories. So if you’re eating a lot of it (without too much flavoring), you don’t have to worry about gaining weight whilst indulging.
Maintaining a steady and healthy weight gain during pregnancy is now known to be linked to a reduced risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and even miscarriage.
What Are The Risks Of Eating Popcorn During Pregnancy?
So as we have looked at the positives of eating popcorn during pregnancy, there are also a few risks that should be considered before fully indulging in your favorite snack during pregnancy.
Whilst popcorn itself is a safe and nutritious choice of food to eat while you are expecting, there are some variations relating to the way it is cooked, and the flavors added to it, that could make it a riskier option.
So, what should you look out for?
Avoid cooking your popcorn in the microwave. This is because some microwave popcorn brands will include compounds such as fluorotelomers in their ingredients.
When this is exposed to high temperatures, fluorotelomers can break down into toxic PFOA which can transmit directly to the fetus. This has been linked to a host of developmental problems. If you are going to have popcorn, avoid microwavable bags.
Avoid excessively flavored popcorn. Added sugars or sugared flavors can unnecessarily add to your sugar consumption and lead to a higher than average blood sugar level.
Popcorn is often laden with added salt to increase its flavor and to give it its unique taste. However, too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, turning this healthy snack into a danger zone if eaten too frequently.
As with most foods, there are ways in which you can consume them to make them healthier, or less nutritious. All in all, popcorn is a great choice of snack to choose from whether you’re pregnant or not.
It has many health benefits and is packed with a host of nutrients to help you and your baby during this very special time. When eaten in its rawest form, without too much-added sugar or salt, you really cannot go wrong with eating as much popcorn as you want.
That being said, even with some added taste supplements, compared to the nutritional value of junk food and confectionery snacks, it is still miles ahead in the health stakes.
As long as you prepare your popcorn adequately, avoid pre-packaged microwave cooking bags, and keep an eye on the salt and sugar values in your popcorn, there really is no need to worry about popcorn consumption during pregnancy.
Now grab a bowl, get a movie ready, and relax! In a few months, things are going to get a lot more interesting!