Microwave Popcorn’s Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Health Risks


Although the hazards of trans fats found in movie theater popcorn were exposed a couple of years ago, many people wonder how bad popcorn can really be for you. The good news is that the film industry cleaned their popcorn up.

But, even if it’s not laden with trans fats, it still isn’t the healthiest snack. Unfortunately, regarding popcorn and health hazards, movie theater variety has nothing on microwave popcorn. If you are wondering how harmful microwave popcorn actually is, the answer is “very!”

There is nothing that smells better than freshly-popped microwave popcorn. It’s a huge convenience, and it seems to be the perfect snack. The problem is that of all the snacks you eat, microwave popcorn has all the things you shouldn’t ingest literally packed into one bag. If you are wondering whether you should eat it the answer is “no,” and here’s why.

The microwave bag

It isn’t just the popcorn that’s bad for you; the bag it’s popped in is one of the most hazardous parts of microwave popcorn. It is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA is the same toxic chemical found on Teflon pans and pots, and can stay in the environment and the human body for long periods of time. When the chemical is heated, studies on lab animals show that exposure to it can lead to cancer, infertility, and other chronic illnesses. Currently, the EPA lists perfluorooctanoic as carcinogenic.

What is in the bag

It isn’t just what the microwave bag is lined with that is harmful to your health.  Most microwave popcorn varieties have GMOs — genetically modified oils and emulsifiers. Although no clear studies have been done to examine the long-term effects of GMO, it has been linked to several health concerns and many health advocates are questioning whether it is a good idea to have in the food source. Also, since most microwave popcorn is not organic, you can almost be assured that it contains harmful herbicides and pesticides.

Other ingredients

Many varieties of microwave popcorn contain trans fat. Of all the various types of fat, trans fats are the most harmful. Statistics show that trans fat may be associated with as many as 20000 heart attacks nationwide every year. And, the CDC indicates it may be linked to as many as 7000 deaths annually due to heart disease and heart attacks.

Propyl Gallate is another ingredient found in some varieties of microwave popcorn. It is an ingredient that is banned in many other countries for good reason. A preservative that is still used in the US, it is found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food. Studies have linked it to things like stomach issues, breathing problems and skin rashes, just to name a few unhealthy consequences.

TBHQ or Tertiary Butylhydroquinone is another potential ingredient. It is made from butane, which is a very toxic gas. It is a chemical that has been linked to asthma, dermatitis, dizziness and ADHD in children. In laboratory animals, stomach cancer has also been noted.

The flavoring

If the other ingredients haven’t scared you off just yet, the natural and artificial flavors contained in microwave popcorn should. Because they aren’t safe for consumption, most microwave popcorn makers don’t even list the chemicals they use. Things such as MSG, diacetyl butter, and beaver’s anal glands, have all been detected in microwave popcorn.

It isn’t the popcorn…

Popcorn can be one of the most nutritious snacks out there, but only if it is prepared correctly. Microwave popcorn may be convenient and smell delicious, but there is nothing appetizing about the harmful nature of it. If you want to reap the benefits of a popcorn snack, prepare it yourself. You can invest in an air popper for less than twenty dollars from popcorn Vancouver and make your own snack, loaded with all the things you want and not all the things that you don’t.

Try to stay away from using oils and artificial butter flavors and go for the real thing when you make yourself a cup of popcorn. Containing antioxidants, fiber, and having a low glycemic index, popcorn is an excellent healthy food for anyone who is trying to maintain their weight and stay healthy.

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