As a consumer we trust that the food products we are buying are safe for ourselves and our families. However, there may be less than desirable ingredients in one of your favorite snack foods. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little popcorn as a quick snack or evening treat. It always seems to hit the spot and provides a light snack packed with fiber and whole grains. In fact, one ounce of popcorn provides almost 4g of fiber to help you feel fuller longer. But beware, if you are not air-popping this tasty treat yourself the risks may outweigh the benefits.
Microwavable varieties of popcorn, such as Jiffy Pop or Jolly Time, contain toxic perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), cell damaging diacetyl (DA), and heart harming trans-fats. PFOA is the same toxic substance that is used on Teflon pots and pans. This chemical is used in many microwavable brands to line their bags which protects from oil leakage and provides non-stick sides that produce a perfectly popped product. However, according to Emory University scientists, this toxin has been associated with both kidney and testicular cancer in individuals who work or live near PFOA plants.
Also toxic to your body, DA is the butter flavoring chemical which has been found to break down cell layers that protect an extremely vital organ, your brain! What’s more, if consumed in larger quantities for a long period of time, DA can also cause a respiratory disease known as “popcorn lung”. In fact, one consumer who ate two bags of microwaveable popcorn daily for 2 years was awarded $7 million by the manufacturer after developing this condition.
Finally, trans-fats are oils that have been artificially partially hydrogenated and are known to increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL). Trans-fats also increase you risk of developing heart disease and stroke and have been associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One serving of microwavable popcorn contains 3g trans-fat which is almost 200% over the recommended daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Not to mention trans-fats are typically the second ingredient listed on the ingredient list of most packaged popcorn. Yuck!
So grab this deceiving delectable and pop it in the trash. Buying just the kernels and making your own popcorn recipe will be better for your body and your long term health.
Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Amanda Cravinho for her contributions to this post.