Microwave popcorn is the ultimate convenience snack.
It’s salty, crunchy, and easy to make.
It comes in all sorts of flavors both savory and sweet and it’s perfect for curling up with anytime.
However, this convenience comes at a cost to you and your health.
Many of the popular brands of microwave popcorn contain ingredients that are extremely bad for you.
Even the so-called ‘healthy’ or ‘light’ brands have them, usually as preservatives, oils to pop the corn or the stuff that gives it that delicious buttery taste.
What makes it so dangerous?
There are three main components of microwave popcorn.
First is the corn itself, and the oil that gets heated to make it pop.
Second is the flavoring and coloring that gives microwave popcorn that crave-worthy look and taste.
Last are the preservatives that are used to make sure the corn and oil don’t spoil before you heat and eat it.
Trans Fats! You’ve heard that phrase before.
Companies all over the world are working to eliminate trans fats from their products because of the health risks that come from eating them.
Did you know that they can be found in your microwave popcorn? Anything with the words ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially-hydrogenated’ oil is going to contain trans fats.
Hydrogenation is the process in which trans fats are created.
In the past, it was done to make oils spreadable (think margarine) or shelf-stable (think baked goods), but that process also causes the fats to be incredibly harmful to our health.
Trans fats have been directly linked to increasing your chance of metabolic syndrome –
diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all fall under this umbrella.
Soybean, canola, sunflower, and safflower oil are all popular choices for hydrogenation.
These oils are common for microwave popcorn because they can sit on the shelf at the store for a long time without going bad.
They also give a very ‘buttery’ flavor to your snack.
Popcorn brings to mind a salty, buttery crunch that can’t be beaten.
But how does corn popped in the microwave get that delicious flavor?
Butter spoils way too quickly, so manufacturers turn to chemistry to find a substitute.
The problem with current ingredient regulations is that companies don’t have to disclose which natural and/or artificial flavorings they use,
so you truly have no idea what is in your delicious bags of goodness.
Your snack could contain MSG, animal secretions (does beaver anal gland sound delicious?), and diacetyl, which we’ll get to in a minute.
MSG or monosodium glutamate is a salty flavoring used in numerous products.
It has also been linked to an immense amount of allergic reactions.
These reactions include migraines, upset stomach, hives, breathing trouble, and anaphylaxis.
Animal secretions are technically a ‘natural’ flavoring, but why would anyone want to ingest that?
Diacetyl, however, is the biggest bad in this scenario.
It is the most-used artificial butter flavoring.
It also causes what is called ‘popcorn lung’ – bronchiolitis obliterans – a severe lung disease that can reduce lung function by 60%.
This is caused by inhaling diacetyl after it’s been heated and vaporized, exactly what happens when you open the bag of microwave popcorn and take a deep sniff.
Workers in factories that produce microwave popcorn get this disease, and there are emerging cases of frequent consumers getting it as well.
There are also studies coming out that show a tentative link between diacetyl and the plaque that causes Alzheimer’s disease.
This is one ingredient that you absolutely want to avoid.
Preservatives are fairly self-explanatory.
They are added to products to preserve freshness.
Oil, in particular, goes rancid very quickly, so preservatives are one way to keep them safe for longer (Trans fats are another).
The two most common preservatives used in microwave popcorn are TBHQ and Propyl Gallate.
TBHQ is short for Tertiary Butylhydroquinone.
It’s a very common preservative used in everything from Chicken McNuggets to your favorite perfume.
However, in testing the FDA put the maximum dosage at 0.02% of the total oils in a product.
Anything higher than that has been found to cause nausea, vomiting, fainting, and death.
Propyl Gallate is a similar preservative that inhibits oxidation in edible fats, keeping them safe to eat for longer.
It has been linked to hormone disruption, upset stomach, migraines, and brain tumors in animal tests.
The European Food Safety Authority re-evaluated its stance on Propyl Gallate in 2014 stating that the data from previous studies was unclear in inconclusive.
Both of these preservatives have been used for many years, but as new research comes out it looks more and more likely that additives like these are having a major impact on our health.
What about the bag it’s in?
Have you ever really thought about the bag that microwave popcorn comes in?
What keeps the popcorn from sticking?
What keeps the oil from soaking through the bag?
PFOA and PFOS, that’s what. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perflurooctane sulfinate (PFOS) are two big chemicals that cause BIG problems.
They are recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as ‘likely carcinogens’ that disrupt your endocrine system,
cause cancer in the reproductive organs, cause thyroid malfunction, and many other things.
PFOA and PFOS do not have to be declared on ingredient labels, so there is no way to know if your microwave snack has them or not unless they are specifically labeled to say they do not use those chemicals.
Here are a few of the most popular brands of microwave popcorn and the unhealthy ingredients they contain:
Orville Redenbacher’s (Mini Bags with Butter)
Newman’s Own (butter boom)
Pop Secret (extra butter)
Jolly Time (healthy pop)
Cousin Willie’s Buttery Explosion
Act II Movie Theater Butter
Popcorn is a terrific snack. It’s whole-grain, filling, low calorie, and has a very satisfying crunch.
However, microwave popcorn is a snack that isn’t worth the risk.
It is so easy to make your own on the stove top, or even in the microwave with a paper bag.
Taking the extra few minutes to do it yourself will keep cancer-causing PFOA, questionable preservatives, lung-damaging ‘butter’ flavor, and trans fats out of your body.
When there is new research emerging daily that shows how damaging these food additives are to our health, don’t we owe it to ourselves to keep as many of them out of our bodies as we can?
To protect yourself from these toxic ingredients (which lead to higher risk of cancer) in many of our everyday’s food, go to the next page and discover how to boost your immune system –
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice. Learn how you can lose weight fast – How to lose weight by adding these alkaline foods.
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