Health experts recommend that a third of our daily diet should be composed of starchy foods and advise that we choose whole grain and high-fibre varieties whenever possible.
Whole grains are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer.
Researchers at the Centre for Human Nutrition, Nutrition Impact LLC and ConAgra Foods analysed data contained in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999 to 2002.
They found that total grain consumption in popcorn eaters was 20.8 per cent higher, on average, than in non-popcorn eaters.
Publishing their findings in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the researchers concluded: "Popcorn may offer a healthful alternative to energy-dense, low-nutrient-dense snacks, and may have the potential to improve nutrient status in Americans of all ages and help them meet dietary guideline recommendations to consume three wholegrain servings per day."