Over the years there has been a lot of talk about whether or not Microwave Popcorn is a healthy snack. Some have even gone so far as to claim it is carcinogenic. Popcorn is without a doubt one of the healthier snacks, but how you make your popcorn makes a big difference. Calories, for instance, vary widely between the different popcorn options. Air-popped popcorn contains about 108 calories per ounce, whereas microwave popcorn can be closer to 160 calories. If you have the 2 1/2 ounce serving, that’s a difference of over 100 calories.

Back in 2007, there was some concern about the butter topping used by many microwave popcorn manufacturers.

The chemical, diacetyl, was used in an artificial butter flavoring commonly used in microwave popcorn. When a number of workers fell ill with lung disease, the finger was pointed at diacetyl. While this has never been proven, major microwave popcorn manufacturers immediately worked on removing it from their products anyway.

High in Trans Fat

Another concern about microwave popcorn is its level of Trans Fat and sodium. The FDA has indicated that eating trans fat and high sodium intake raises the level of LDL, bad cholesterol, in your blood. High cholesterol increases your risk of developing heart disease which is one of the leading causes of death in Americans.

Most recently the FDA has become concerned about a coating on the bags used for microwave popcorn.

Perfluorinated grease-proving agents are the coatings which keep all of the buttery toppings and cooking oils from leaking out when you make your popcorn. These agents have been in use since the ‘60s.

In a report from December 2017, the FDA indicated that recent studies raised concerns about certain chemicals known as C8 compounds.

It has been determined that these compounds can have toxic effects on animals and humans. They have been working with manufacturers to remove these agents from the marketplace, but are allowing the existing stock of bags coated with this toxic substance to remain available on the shelves. Because it has been determined that the C8 compound’s effects are cumulative over time, and the sell-off time for the remaining product is relatively short, the FDA feels that the exposure during this period will not impact public health.

So, while traditional microwave popcorn won't kill you, and the toxic effects from the bags are negligible unless you live off the stuff, it isn't the healthy choice we all hoped it would be.

A healthier choice

At least one company has managed to create a safer, healthier microwave popcorn. Quinn Snacks have developed a number of flavors which offer a healthier alternative to the traditional microwave popcorn.

With no trans fat, real butter instead of butter flavoring, and a paper bag rather than chemically-coated, it is a healthier option.

They pride themselves on their corn being grown entirely organically, non-GMO, and all-American. The bags are even biodegradable and compostable.

So, there is no need to change the way you make your popcorn. Microwave popcorn can be safe if you know what to buy.