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Healthy Living

The Truth About Microwave Popcorn

June 12, 2018

Popcorn

Microwave popcorn – an American favorite that can be found in most college dorms, corporate office vending machines and family households. It’s cheap, easy and fast – what’s not to like? You open a bag, toss it in the microwave, hit the “popcorn” button and bam! Two minutes go by, and your room smells delicious.

Well, it turns out, that “delicious” smell that steams out of the bag contains nearly four dozen chemicals. According to one of the reports from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, many of these chemicals come from the butter flavoring, ink, and glue that the bag itself contains. Now while these chemicals are in small concentrations, they are still not something you want to inhale. So if you are to open a bag of microwave popcorn, try making sure you open it in a well-ventilated area.

If we are to dissect further into why microwave popcorn can be bad for you, we can’t look past what makes the popcorn taste so good. The fantastic buttery flavor you get when eating microwave popcorn comes from Diacetyl. Diacetyl is an organic compound that has an intense buttery flavor. Diacetyl can be found in lots of foods ranging from Twinkies to red wine. When eaten, Diacetyl is not necessarily bad for you, but when it is heated to higher temperatures, such as microwave popcorn, the diacetyl vaporizes. That vapor can be toxic.

Now, I am not going to just sit here and lecture you as to why you should never eat popcorn. While eating a bag of microwave popcorn is a better option than a bag of chips, I have a few suggestions as to healthier ways you can make and consume popcorn. The easiest way to know what you are consuming is to make it yourself. For popcorn, I would start by buying kernels and then deciding which of the following methods would work best for you.

If you are looking to save money, your best bet is making popcorn on the stove. All you need is a little oil and a stovetop. Just pour in some oil to cover the base of your pot, throw in your unpopped kernels, and put the heat on medium; in only a few minutes your fresh popcorn will be ready.

Another option, for those of you who might be in a hurry, is the microwave route. With this option we suggest buying a glass popcorn popper that is meant for the microwave. Place about two tablespoons of kernels in the container and put it in the microwave for two minutes.  The result here is the perfect serving size for one, and the taste is just as delicious as on the stove.

My final suggestion is using a Stir Crazy popcorn device. My mom is a whiz at handling this. Movie nights were the best nights, and it was a staple for our family movie nights as a kid. This device may be a bit slower than my other suggestions, but I think this version tastes the best! Plus you get to watch the kernels pop, which is honestly my favorite part.

The last step after popping your popcorn is to making your snack taste as good as the bagged version. Add a little butter and salt to that popcorn, and your end result will taste just as good, if not better than any microwaved bag of popcorn ever could.