5 Reasons to Avoid Microwave Popcorn
If you’re an avid movie-goer, popcorn is probably high on your list of favorite snacks. Even when you’re watching a flick on the couch at home, there’s something about popcorn and movies that seem to go hand in hand. Popcorn is one of the most popular snacks in America and it’s not hard to see why — the combination of salt, butter and a soft but satisfying crunch is enough to make most people shovel it in by the handful. When prepared properly, popcorn offers some surprising nutritional benefits.
Unfortunately, microwave popcorn tells a different story. Preparing popcorn in a microwavable bag transforms a healthy snack into a harmful one. Here are five convincing reasons to avoid microwave popcorn:
- It contains a chemical linked to Alzheimer’s diseaseThe buttery flavoring that coats microwave popcorn comes from an artificial flavoring called diacetyl. Diacetyl is a natural byproduct of fermentation found in butter, beer and vinegar, but also a chemical made synthetically by food companies, to give food an irresistible buttery flavor and aroma. Studies have shown that diacetyl is able to pass through the blood-brain barrier and cause brain proteins to misfold into beta amyloid — the protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been shown to inhibit mechanisms that help naturally clear beta amyloid from the brain.
- The same chemical is linked to lung problemsDiacetyl doesn’t just pose a health risk to your brain — studies have also linked it to lung problems. When you heat a bag of microwave popcorn, the chemical begins to vaporize, and you end up breathing it in, putting you at risk of lung problems, including lung disease.
- The bag itself poses health risksMicrowavable popcorn bags contain a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), meant to keep grease from leaking through. This chemical has been linked to ADHD and hyperactivity in children, along with low birth weight, thyroid disease, infertility, immune system problems and even cancer.
- It contains potentially harmful preservativesMany microwavable popcorn brands use artificial flavorings and preservatives that may be toxic and leave you susceptible to health problems. A common preservative used in microwave popcorn is propyl gallate, which has been associated with tumors — including rare brain tumors — in animal studies.
- It provides you with a hefty dose of trans fat
Microwave popcorn is made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil, also known as trans fat. Trans fat is linked to a higher risk of memory impairment, oxidative stress, and arterial plaque buildup in the brain and arteries, among other health problems.
If you’re a popcorn fan, don’t worry — you can still enjoy your favorite snack, without the health risks. Ditch the microwavable bags and make your own healthy version at home. All you’ll need is one-half cup of popcorn kernels, 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and one-half tablespoon of Himalayan salt.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large pot
- Place one kernel in the pot. Once it pops, add the remaining kernels.
- Cook the kernels over medium-high heat for about three minutes or until the popping slows.
- Remove the popcorn from the heat and place it in a bowl.
- Season with salt, pop in a movie and enjoy!