Love it, Like it, Hate it: Microwave Popcorn!

June 28, 2017 | Updated: 10:46 a.m., June 28, 2017

Old-fashioned popcorn can be a tasty, filling, nutritious snack – and who doesn’t love the smell of freshly-popped popcorn?  And the good news is that microwave popcorn options are getting better and better, with more brands offering truly good-for-you microwave popcorn.  In today’s Love it, Like it, Hate it, we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly on what to look for – and what to avoid – when it comes to this snack-time favorite.

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The benefits: Popcorn is low in calories, whole grain, antioxidant-rich, good source of fiber

Love it, Like it, Hate it: Seasoning Blends

The Drawbacks: Reports that that microwave popcorn contains harmful chemicals continue to circulate on the internet and social media, with warnings that microwave popcorn is linked to cancer and even lung disease, so here’s the skinny on those claims:

  • PFOA: In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for microwave popcorn bag liners have a slippery nonstick surface coated with a chemical called PFOA, which can be linked to an increased risk of cancer.
  • Diacetyl: Some are flavored with diacetyl, an artificial butter flavor that can cause lung disease .  Fortunately, most brands of popcorn are now specifically made without diacetyl.

The good news:  Most brands of popcorn have eliminated PFOAs & diacetyl from their products.

Trans fats | More good news:  Most varieties of microwave popcorn have reformulated to contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, listed as 0 trans fat per serving.

 

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LOVE IT!

DIY Microwave Popcorn with non-GMO popcorn kernels 

  • Pop in brown paper bag: 3 tablespoons kernels in plain brown paper bag, pop 1 to 1 ½ minutes
  • No oil needed; can season to taste after popping
  • Per serving (approx. 7 cups, popped): 120 cals – 4.5 grams fat – 0 sat fat – 0 sodium – 29 grams carbs – 6 grams fiber – 4 grams protein

Engine 2 Organic Microwave Popcorn

  • Ingredients: Organic popcorn
  • Per bag: 330 cals – 4.5 grams fat – 0 sat fat – 0 sodium – 66 grams carb – 12 grams fiber – 9 grams protein

 

LIKE IT!

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Skinny Pop Microwave Popcorn

  • Ingredients: Popcorn, palm oil, sea salt, butter flavor, cane sugar
  • Per “pop-up” box: 360 cals – 15 grams fat – 7.5 grams sat fat – 990 mg sodium – 54 grams carbs – 9 grams fiber – 9 grams protein

 

Quinn Popcorn

  • Ingredients: Organic popcorn kernels, oil, seasonings
  • Popcorn is popped in bag not lined with PFOA, then oil + seasonings added separately
  • Per bag: 540 cals – 33 grams fat – 9 grams sat fat – 375 mg sodium – 51 grams carbs – 15 grams fiber – 9 grams protein

 

Orville Redenbacher Single Serve 100 Calorie Mini Bags

  • Ingredients: whole grain popping corn, palm oil, color added, TBHQ for freshness
  • Per bag: 100 cals – 2 grams fat – 0.5 grams sat fat – 260 mg sodium – 22 grams carb – 3 grams fiber – 3 grams protein

 

HATE IT!

Pop-Secret Extra Butter:

  • Ingredients include: Popcorn, palm oil, natural & artificial flavor, color added, TBHQ for freshness
  • Per bag: 390 cals – 24 grams fat – 12 grams sat fat – 750 mg sodium – 39 grams carb – 6 grams fiber – 6 grams protein

Act II Butter Lovers

  • Ingredients include: Popcorn, palm oil, natural & artificial flavor, color added, TBHQ for freshness
  • Per bag: 420 cals – 21 grams fat – 9 grams sat fat – 930 mg sodium – 57 grams carb – 9 grams fiber – 6 grams protein

Orville Redenbachers Movie Theater Butter Pop-Up Popcorn

  • Ingredients: whole grain popping corn, palm oil, salt, butter, color added, TBHQ for freshness
  • Per bag: 375 cals – 23 grams fat – 11.5 grams sat fat – 825 mg sodium – 45 grams carb – 7.5 grams fiber – 5 grams protein

Orville Redenbacher’s Caramel Popcorn

  • One of the few microwave popcorns still loaded with trans fats + nearly 3 days worth of added sugar!
  • Ingredients include popcorn, brown sugar, margarine, salt, soy lecithin… corn syrup…
  • Per bag: 765 cals – 36 grams fat – 9 grams sat fat –75 grams trans fat – 158 mg sodium – 117 grams carbs – 9 grams fiber – 54 grams of sugar – 4.5 grams protein

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Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD