Popcorn: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Popcorn: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

We all love the buttery goodness of popcorn, after all, we grew up with it. Going to the movie theatre and munching on some popcorn while engrossed in the story plot. But, as we found out, popcorn has its ups and downs.

The Good

Popcorn has many benefits, especially for the heart. Since popcorn is a whole grain, it's a good source of fiber. But, there are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both of which have similar benefits, such as, for health, digestion, and heading off illnesses. Popcorn fibers are insoluble, which can remove cholesterol, Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD explains. Furthermore, whole grains have polyphenols which are antioxidants. This means that it can prevent damage to your cells, DNA, and proteins. For example, damage from aging, the environment (the UV rays), and your lifestyle (partying, drinking, and prolonged exposure to the sun). More specifically, polyphenols found in popcorn capture free radicals.
Finally, since popcorn is an unprocessed whole grain, it accounts for around 70% of the recommended daily intake.

The Bad

This has more to do with the popcorn you'll buy at the concession stand, or in a prepackaged bag. But nonetheless, it is something to be aware of. "If popcorn is prepared using butter and oil, this benefit is essentially canceled," says Best. In addition, researchers at UCLA found that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) found in the lining of microwavable popcorn bags "could potentially be at a 70 percent to 134 percent higher risk of infertility." Not to mention that the Environmental Agency (EPA) found that perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are linked to various cancers. Most recently, a 2020 study by the Environmental Health Perspectives found microwave popcorn bags often have some amount of PFAS. In addition, people who typically eat it have elevated or higher serum levels. This means that when your doctor tests your blood for signs of increased risk for chronic medical conditions.

The bottom line is that if you want to make sure you're not getting any harmful chemicals from your food, then you need to know what you are getting yourself into. While manufactured popcorn can ultimately be a double-edged sword, making your own stove top popcorn from scratch is a better and healthier option.

The Ugly (Truth)

While popcorn is a healthy whole grain snack, (like anything else), it also has its pitfalls. If you don't want to make your own popcorn, it is better just to stay away from it. Many prepackaged manufacturers put in more chemicals that you might not want to eat. There are so many better-for-you alternatives out there. We would recommend cassava, chickpeas, or even lotus seed snacks. Your taste buds will thank us, so try it out for yourself.

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