When it comes to movie nights, microwaveable popcorn seems like the way to go when it comes to picking out snacks. It makes sense, though. For the most part, there is almost no preparation involved and it only takes a short session in the microwave before it’s ready.
Did you know that roughly 17 billion quarts of popcorn are consumed by Americans every year? A large percentage of that also comes from microwaveable varieties so naturally, this offers an important question – is microwave popcorn healthy?
While popcorn on its own is relatively safe without any toxic interference, the majority of microwave brands are actually dangerous for the following reasons:
1. A Number of the Bags Are Lined with Toxic Materials
Just like the packaging for fast foods and cheap, processed goods, the inner lining of popcorn bags can contain traces of toxic materials that contaminate the popcorn as well. A primary component for many of these linings are perfluorochemicals (Also called PFCs) that have been linked to the development of different cancers and damage to the reproductive system.
These chemicals are commonly added to bags to make them more grease proof, so that they can sell buttered versions that don’t make a mess in your kitchen. What they don’t tell you is that these linings can also make a mess out of your digestive system and overall health.
2. The Corn is Often Sourced by GMO Farms
While GMOs are commonly seen as a hot topic in the health community, they have yet to be rigorously tested for long term effects on human health. In animal studies, researchers have found links between GMO corn and digestive diseases, tumor development, and an increase in allergic response. To date nobody is making GMO popcorn but the corn is usually sourced from the same farms that produce GMO corn so ummm yeah, my vote is at the very least buy organic.
3. Popcorn Flavorings Often Contain Toxic Ingredients
You’d be surprised at how far companies will go to have their foods taste a certain way, without using the actual products that would naturally produce said taste. For example, did you know that the buttery taste in popcorn actually comes from the chemical use of something called diacetyl?
This fake, buttery flavoring has been linked to the development of lung cancer in factory workers, with some cases even appearing in consumers as well. While breathing in the chemicals appears to be far more dangerous, the toxins that carry over into the food can also pose a significant threat to our overall health. Some studies even show that microwave popcorn can have a link to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Keep it out of your life.
4. Some Packages Use Plastic Materials
Never heat plastic. Simple rule to live by. When you add plastic packages to a microwave, the petrochemicals can seep into your food and contaminate it without you knowing. While the dangers of microwaving plastic are known, it is still sometimes found in the packages of cheap popcorn. Stay away from this stuff at all costs.
Although microwaveable popcorn may seem like a great idea for a night indoors, make sure that you’re aware of the risks that come from eating it. While some brands may appear less dangerous than others, it is probably a better idea to avoid it altogether. If you really need to satisfy that popcorn cravings, only opt for organic, non-chemical products that keep you safe from the synthetic tampering that still finds its way onto grocery store shelves.
5. The Solution is Simple Pop Your Own
I am not a big fan of microwaves but if you are going to use them to pop popcorn this is the best way:
Here’s the way to make popcorn on your stove top: Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or grapeseed 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 pop corn (white or yellow) and cover pan. When corn begins to pop, shake constantly allowing steam to escape from popping kernels–otherwise popcorn will lose its crunch. Remove pan from heat immediately when popping stops or it will burn. Pour into a large bowl and season to taste.