Do you know that about 15% of the US population suffers from gallstone disease? More than 85% of these cases are cholesterol gallstones. The same trend has been observed in other developed countries. Western diet has been identified as one of the factors that contribute to the prevalence of this disease. This diet is made up mainly of fast foods that are low in fiber and high in fats and refined carbohydrates.
As you very well know, popcorn is one of the more popular snack items in a typical Western diet. So is it bad to eat popcorn if you have gallstones?
It’s best to understand more about gallstones first. Then we’ll see which types of food work with this condition and whether this includes popcorn.
How does gallstone disease develop?
Gallstones are found in the gallbladder where they are formed. They can also get stuck and cause obstruction along the bile ducts.
A normal gallbladder stores bile which is produced by the liver. Bile is made up of many components including cholesterol, acids, salts, bilirubin, and water. It helps in digestion by breaking down fatty food and fat-soluble vitamins. It also helps to convey waste products out of the body.
When there’s an imbalance, however, the extra cholesterol falls out of that state. It then turns into crystals and form stones.
These are yellowish or greenish and are called cholesterol gallstones.
Bilirubin, too, can become too thick in the bile and develop into pigment gallstones, which are dark brown or black in color.
Gallstones also form when the gallbladder fails to discharge bile completely. The retained bile thickens and becomes very viscous. If this happens often, gallstone disease becomes inevitable.
What types of food can you eat when you have gallstones?
We don’t know yet of any diet that will get rid of gallstones. What we know is that you can carefully plan out your diet to help reduce gallstone attacks.
An attack usually occurs after a fatty meal.
A high-fat meal stimulates the gallbladder to contract and release bile. Sadly, this contraction also causes gallstones to move. When gallstones move and block the bile’s passage, the pain can be very intense.
A diet that’s low in fat and high in fiber is best for individuals with gallstone disease. Load on fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins and antioxidants. Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates. Poultry is low in fat and a good source of protein, too.
When it comes to eggs, you’ll want them boiled or poached. You may even scramble them as long as you don’t add butter. As for fish, there should be no problem. It can be grilled or steamed with very little salt added. If you can’t avoid meat, pick lean cuts from grass-fed animals.
Include anti-inflammatory ingredients to your diets.
Turmeric and ginger roots will do you a lot of good.
Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats, such as margarine, butter, lard, cheese, whole milk, bacon, red meat, and chicken skin. This also includes foods prepared from these ingredients, such as baked goods, fried food, and ice cream.
So, is Popcorn good or bad for you?
The answer would depend on the kind of popcorn that you eat or how you prepare it.
Homemade popcorn from organic whole grain kernels gets our thumbs up no doubt.
It’s high in fiber and low in fat – exactly what you need.
But make no mistake about it – use no oil or butter, just plain corn popped in a big pan with cover. To taste, you may season with pepper, chives, curry, or your favorite herb.
The low fat and high fiber content of this popcorn helps to minimize gallstone attacks. It is also rich in polyphenols, the same antioxidant found in red wine and cinnamon.
On the other hand, commercial popcorns are made from chemically laden varieties of corn. Plus, these are usually garnished with butter, cheese, salt, and other high-fat ingredients. For obvious reasons, we don’t recommend this type of popcorn.
However not all Popcorns are created Equal!
Popcorn can be a good snacking option if you knew which corn to buy and how to pop it right. Still, it would be wise to consume this in moderation. Balance it with the rest of the food items in your diet.
As you can see, there’s no reason why people with gallstone disease can’t enjoy simple pleasures in life, such as a popcorn snack.