A single cup serving of plain popcorn contains 31 calories, three of which are from fat. The serving includes 6 grams of carbohydrates. Plain popcorn is a good source of manganese and fiber, and is low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol.
As popcorn is a whole grain, eating it brings corresponding nutritional benefits. Whole grains contain healthy oils along with vitamins, minerals and proteins. A 2012 study found that popcorn contains antioxidants in its hull. These antioxidants can help to prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Microwave popcorn, however, may contain additives such as oils, which increase the amount of calories. Artificial flavorings and fats may also be present. A 1-ounce serving of butter-flavored popcorn made with palm oil contains around 148 calories, 76 of which are from fat. While this type of popcorn remains low in cholesterol, it contains saturated fat. The healthiest way to prepare popcorn is to air pop or oil pop whole kernels before seasoning lightly.
Popcorn is a complex carbohydrate, which means that it creates a full feeling and supplies energy. It remains a popular and healthy snack choice for children, while the full feeling and comparatively low calorie count make popcorn a popular snacking choice for people trying to lose weight.