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50/50 Shot Breeds a Decade of Popcorn Success

A Nebraska-led coming attraction may soon pop into a global blockbuster.

Through a decade-long project supported by Conagra Foods, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln research team led by David Holding has naturally bred new varieties of popcorn that outperform today’s most popular kernels in their intrinsic nutritional value and taste.

“When we took on this challenge, I was 50% confident that we could deliver on improvements in terms of nutrition,” Holding said. “But at no time did I think this would lead us to a level of success that also delivered improved taste, texture and prebiotics over conventional popcorn.”

The Nebraska-made varieties — which are currently being tested by Conagra — offer nearly twice the level of lysine, an amino acid essential in the diets of humans and livestock, compared to popular popcorn varieties and other cereal grains.

Higher lysine can enhance nutritional value, thus adding economic value and broadening the appeal of the popular snack, Holding said.

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