What started my scientific wondering about popcorn? I was reading press-releases about presentations at the American Chemical Society's 239th meeting happening this week in San Francisco while craving a healthy snack.

Suddenly, I remembered my favorite report from last year's ACS meeting, about popcorn's antioxidant polyphenols.

According to a 2005 study published on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition website, polyphenols go beyond their well-known antioxidant effects in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancers.  

Then I began searching for more popcorn science. The popping action of Zea mays everta ("corn turned inside out") makes an entertaining science lesson, while its discovery leads deep into anthropology.  

A squirrel tucking into popcorn leftovers, by Liangjinjian, via Flickr.com
Image: A squirrel tucks into leftover popcorn, by Liangjinjian, via Flickr.com

Popcorn is a nutritious, high-fiber snack, especially when air-popped, if one goes light on the butter and additives.

But popcorn's dark side has been noted by medical researchers who have documented cases of lung air sac inflamation and damage in microwave popcorn factory workers and power-consumers, from prolonged exposure to butter flavoring chemicals.
Is popcorn anyone else's favorite snack-food?