Consuming popcorn can be healthy and beneficial for your health. On the other hand, popcorn consumption can greatly pose some health risks. Which side outweighs the other?

Sitting in a movie theatre, you find popcorns handy. At any meal, popcorn fits. It is arguably true that popcorns are convenient and one of the healthiest snacks in the whole world. Popcorns are obtained from corn kernels, which are yellow in color. When they are exposed to heat, they pop up, becoming white and fluffy popcorn you love. Popcorns are a good source of many nutrients such as carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Popcorns are fairly healthy on their own without added sugars or salt. That said, popcorn can quickly be made unhealthy by poor preparation or the addition of other ingredients like butter, salt, and sugar. This article will explore the nutritional value of popcorn and how it can be made unhealthy.

What is Popcorn?

It would be better and noble to stop a little to get to know exactly what popcorn is. You see, knowledge is power. As been mentioned earlier, when kernel corns are exposed to heat, they pop to give out popcorn. What makes these corns pop when other types of corns don’t pop under the same condition? Well, every kernel contains water at its center. So, when you put them under heat, this water is heated, making the kernel explode. You can then top them up with salt or sugar for flavoring. But keep in mind that this is not healthy.

What is the Nutrition Profile of Popcorn?

Out of knowledge, many people don’t know that popcorn is a whole grain food that is loaded with beneficial nutrients. Several studies have consistently shown that the consumption of whole-grain foods can improve your health, including a reduced risk of heart disease and inflammation. According to datasheet in the Self Nutrition, 100 g of air-popped popcorn contains 7% of the recommended daily value (RDV) for thiamine (vitamin B1), 12% of the RDV for niacin (vitamin B3), 8% of the RDV for pyridoxine (vitamin B6), 18% of the RDV for iron, 36% of the RDV for magnesium, 36% of the RDV for phosphorus, 9% of the RDV for potassium, 21% of the RDV for zinc, 13% of the RDV for copper, and 56% of the RDV for manganese.

Additionally, it provides 13 g of protein, 387 calories, 5 g of fat, and 78 g of carbs. What’s more, popcorn boasts rich content of fiber with up to 15 g in 100 g. this makes popcorns one of the excellent sources of protein.

Popcorn is Loaded with Polyphenol Antioxidant

Antioxidants help reduce the damages on cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced during metabolism, and they can be harmful when they outnumber antioxidants. Polyphenols and other antioxidants may help reverse the effects of oxidative stress and reduce free radicals. Scientists at the University of Scranton found that polyphenols are highly contained in popcorn. Besides seeking out and reducing the number of free radicals, polyphenols improve the flow of blood, improve the health of the digestive system, and lower the risk of many diseases. They can also prevent cancer of the breast and prostate.

Popcorns Have High Fiber Content

Fiber is not digested and is found in carbs and other foods. Popcorns are extremely high in fiber. Fiber slows down digestion making you feel full for long, consume less food and calories. For this reason, the consumption of fiber may help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber is food for the good gut bacteria and aid in their multiplication, while the insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, reducing constipation. This, in the long run, improve your digestive health and prevents hemorrhoids.

Last but not least, fiber can also be beneficial for a weight loss program. It is recommended that women consume 25 g of fiber while men consume 38 g in a day. Unfortunately, many people don’t meet that threshold.

May Aid Weight Loss

Apart from having vast health benefits, the fiber content in popcorn may help with weight loss. Similarly, the low-calorie content and low energy density of popcorn may help reduce weight. In just 100 g of air-popped popcorn, there are approximately 31 calories. This content of calories is fewer compared to other snack foods. Consuming popcorn is highly satiating more than potato chips, according to one study. All these put together, the high content of fiber, low density of energy, low content of calories, and prolonged feelings of fullness, eating popcorn may help you less fat, fewer calories, and lose weight in the long run. However, it would help if you consumed popcorns in moderation as eating too much of them may as well fatten you.

Pre-Packaged Microwave Popcorn May Be Bad For Your Health

In many cases, most people consume pre-packaged popcorn as it is more convenient. It is worth noting that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is used to line many microwave bags. This chemical has been shown to pose risks to your health. Over time, it can lead to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), thyroid problems, low birth weight, autism, and premature births. Additionally, pre-packaged popcorn microwave popcorn is also thought to contain a harmful chemical in artificial butter called diacetyl. Three animal studies found that inhaling diacetyl can interfere with the respiratory system and cause lung disease.

Preparation of Popcorn Matters

Popcorn has several health benefits and impressive nutrition quality. However, this nutritional value and quality can change with how you prepare your popcorn. Air-popped types are relatively low in calories, but some readily made types have extremely high-calorie content. Beware of popcorns sold in movie theatres because they are cooked with unhealthy fats, topped with artificial flavorings, and contain added sugars and salt. Such ingredients pack lots of calories into your body and increase your risk of several diseases.


Popcorn is a popular snack that is consumed worldwide. It has an impressive nutritional profile with fewer calories, high fiber content, and low energy density. Popcorn can be good for weight loss by prolonging feelings of fullness and less consumption of calories. Pre-packaged microwave popcorn is bad for your health.

MS, University of Tartu
Sleep specialist

Using the acquired academic and professional experience, I advise patients with various complaints about mental health - depressed mood, nervousness, lack of energy and interest, sleep disorders, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts and anxieties, difficulty concentrating, and stress. In my free time, I love to paint and go on long walks on the beach. One of my latest obsessions is sudoku – a wonderful activity to calm an unease mind.

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