Popcorn, which is a cereal, can be one of the healthiest foods to eat naturally. It is so healthy that nutrition experts will recommend it as a good source of fiber when you want a low-calorie snack or meal. Because of this, you probably eat them every day, just like a lot of other people, and not just when you go to the movies or watch your favorite shows from the comfort of your living room.
Is popcorn good for you?
Popcorn is good for you. But not all of it or the kind you find in the grocery store might be safe because of how it is made or cooked. Whether they are good for your health or not depends on this a lot. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that lightly seasoned air-popped popcorn is healthy and can help lower the risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and other heart problems because it is high in complex carbohydrates or fiber. When it comes to movie theater popcorn, though, a serving in a glass can have up to almost 1,100 calories and 2,650 milligrams of sodium because they add a lot of fat or salt to make it taste better. And if you add more caramel or butter to this, you can imagine how its great nutritional value is lost or hurt.
This institution also says that they are a good source of antioxidants called “polyphenols”. This helps improve blood flow, keep the intestines healthy, and lower the risk of getting some cancers. And if that wasn’t enough, this snack or food can also help you feel fuller. Also, this can help you feel less hungry and avoid gaining weight because it has a high fiber content and a low energy density.
Three tablespoons of air-popped popcorn has up to 120 calories, 4 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, no cholesterol, 28 grams of carbohydrates, no sodium, and 5 grams of total fiber.
What’s wrong with microwave popcorn?
In the past, there were many unhealthy ingredients in instant (microwave) popcorn, such as diacetyl, used to flavor butter and can cause “popcorn lung”. This makes it hard to breathe and wheeze.
Studies have shown that PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) that are on the bags of packaged popcorn can leak into the food when it’s cooked. This is another major risk of packaged popcorn. According to the UCLA Health website, these were called “perfluorinated chemicals,” and they are used a lot in paper products that are meant to hold hot, sticky, or greasy foods, like popcorn bags and fast food wrappers. So, in a way, it is true that these substances get into the food they are in and can build up in the body and blood, causing health problems like high blood pressure, decreased fertility in women, liver damage, and low birth weight.
A US CDC study that looked at the eating habits of 10,500 people between 2003 and 2014 found that people who ate microwave popcorn every day for a year had up to 63% higher levels of PFAS in their blood than the average person. It looks like another risk of these substances is that they can affect the immune system and make vaccines less effective, for example.
Does PFAS come in all packaged popcorn?
Most likely not, but the risk is that this is not something that the companies put on the labels. In popcorn bags from 12 European countries, 3 from the Americas (including Mexico), and 2 from Asia from 2015 to 2016, 46 different types of PFAS were found and identified in a 2017 study. In the U.S., many of these substances are no longer allowed in products. However, many products that are brought in from other countries may still have them. Imagine that there are around 4,700 PFAS on the world market, making it hard to avoid them in food or everyday products.
But when it comes to popcorn, experts do say that you should eat it out of a bag or heat it up in the microwave. The best thing is that you cook them the old-fashioned way, in a pan or pot with a little oil on the stove. By doing this, you will avoid any harmful things that might be in the container.
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