With the number of health concerns in the limelight right now, it’s often easy to ignore the “little things” like what kind of popcorn you use…So, if you eat microwave popcorn this may change your mind.
When it’s movie night and you’re getting ready to break out the popcorn, using an air popper or cooking a pot of kernels in a heart-friendly oil (olive oil makes great popcorn) on your stove top might be your best choices.
➡ A report from the FDA indicates that a chemical coating used in microwave popcorn bags breaks down when heated into a substance called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic).
➡ The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified PFOA as a “likely carcinogen.”
➡ Another study has found an acid that can be extracted from the chemical causes cancer in animals and is “likely to cause cancer in humans.”
A second potential danger in microwave popcorn is diacetyl, an FDA-approved chemical found in the fake butter flavoring.
➡ There’s even a debilitating respiratory disease called “popcorn workers lung,” (the medical name of the condition is bronchiolitis obliterans) affecting microwave popcorn factory workers, caused by extended inhalation of the chemical’s fumes.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH) concluded that diacetyl needs further study so that workers in the flavorings and snack industry are no longer at risk
The Food and Drug Administration continues to study whether consumers can develop lung disease from inhaling diacetyl. In response to the concerns regarding the risks of diacetyl exposure, a number of microwave popcorn manufacturers have discontinued using it in their products.
To make sure you and your loved ones are enjoying your healthy, low-fat snack by using popcorn safely:
Pop Your Own
Here’s the healthiest way to make popcorn on your stove top:
➡ Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or grape-seed oil if you prefer a more neutral taste) into a heavy, 3 quart or larger pan and place on medium-high heat.
➡ Put two kernels in, and when one has popped, pour in 1/3 cup of popcorn (white or yellow) and cover pan.
➡ When the corn begins to pop, shake constantly allowing steam to escape from the popping kernels–otherwise the popcorn will lose its crunch.
➡ Remove the pan from heat immediately when popping stops or it will burn.
➡ Pour into a large bowl and season to taste.
Going to the movies? Read this first:
Have you ever eaten three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with twelve pats of butter while watching a movie?
➡ Well, that’s nutritionally comparable to what you’d find in a medium popcorn and soda combo at the country’s biggest movie theater chain, Regal.
➡ The combo contains 1,610 calories and three days’ worth–60 grams–of saturated fat, and that’s without the “buttery topping!”
Of course Regal denied this…however, multiple lab tests found that the numbers they provided for calories, fat, etc., were way understated…
➡ Regal’s medium and large popcorn sizes each had 1,200 calories and, thanks to being popped in coconut oil, 60 grams of saturated fat, and that’s without the buttery topping.
The large size looks bigger, thanks to its titanic tub, but it costs a dollar more and comes with a free refill.
➡ A small popcorn at Regal has 670 calories and 34 grams of saturated fat.
That’s about as many calories as a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza–except the popcorn has three times the saturated fat.
➡ If you want to know about the “buttery topping” add an extra 130 calories to a small, 200 calories to a medium, and 260 calories to a large.
In these tough economic times, we all know it’s hard to eat healthy because it costs more. While there are truths to this, movie meals can cost a lot while you’re eating them ($12), as well as heart disease, in the long run.
➡ As an alternative, bring your own healthier treat (it’s not hard to be healthier than this popcorn) and save some bucks.
➡ Or even better, go to the movie for the entertainment and skip the food. After all, sitting on our backsides gazing up is hardly strenuous activity requiring refueling.
I also want to provide some information here about coconut oil, lest it becomes the easy target of this nutrition-less story.
➡ Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but it’s one that has some good health properties and can tolerate high heat, making it a better choice than a trans fat or an oil that shouldn’t be heated to higher temperatures.
Personally, I don’t use coconut oil for many other reasons, but if you do, I’d recommend the organic type because then the health benefits aren’t reduced by the potential for pesticides.
That said, coconut oil, like any saturated fat (and food in general), must be consumed with portion control in mind–the 60 grams of saturated fat is the issue here, not the use of coconut oil.
And, if you want to be healthy, don’t forget to check the labels on everything you eat and/or drink!
Saturated fats and Sodium are no friends of yours.