Eating Popcorn Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Poop

When not lathered in butter and salt like you might see at the movie theater, popcorn can be very beneficial to our health. As one of the most popular snacks enjoyed by people all around the world, this light-as-air food contains an assortment of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients, according to a 2022 scientific review article published in EC Gastroenterology and Digestive System. In addition to potentially reducing our risk for chronic disease, popcorn has also been linked with certain gut-specific health benefits, too.

The next time you find yourself struggling to go number two, you may want to try air-popping some popcorn. Because popcorn contains high amounts of fiber, the snack may help alleviate constipation and keep things moving within the digestive tract. While you'll find about 7 grams of total fiber in a 100-gram serving of popcorn, this amount can vary depending on what kind of popcorn you eat. For example, in the same-size serving of microwavable butter-flavored popcorn made with palm oil, you'll find an increased 10 grams of fiber, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Here's how fiber can support the health of your bowel movements.

Air-popped popcorn is a healthy snack that may help relieve constipation

The less solid your stool, the more challenging it can be to pass — hello, constipation. Mayo Clinic experts explain that fiber can help ease this discomfort by bulking up your poop while simultaneously softening it, thereby making it easier to have a bowel movement. The indigestible carbohydrate accomplishes this by withdrawing water from your stool while also adding to its weight and size. The type of fiber found in popcorn, specifically, is known as resistant starch, which helps promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, relieve diarrhea, and support excretion of waste from the body (via EC Gastroenterology and Digestive System).

Some types of popcorn are healthier than others, however. While buttered microwavable popcorn may be rich in fiber, these products can also come with a hefty amount of sodium. In fact, that 100-gram serving of microwavable popcorn we referenced earlier may contain 10 grams of fiber, but it also comes with 763 milligrams of sodium (via USDA). For this reason, air-popped popcorn is considered the healthiest option. Experts at Men's Health suggest reaching for 3 cups of air-popped popcorn the next time you're feeling a little backed-up. (But wait a minute, does Smartfood popcorn potentially have health benefits?)

It's not unusual to see remnants of popcorn in the toilet

While eating popcorn may help reduce constipation, it can also have another unexpected effect on your poop: it may alter the appearance of your stool by leaving some of its remnants behind. Medical News Today explains that indigestible foods like corn (including popcorn) don't get fully broken down by the body. For this reason, you'll sometimes see pieces of corn's hard outer casing left behind in the toilet.

If you struggle with constipation, you certainly aren't alone. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reports that approximately 16 out of every 100 adults are affected by constipation. While older adults, women, and people with certain gastrointestinal health conditions tend to be more prone to the condition, so are those who lack fiber in their diet. Along with air-popped popcorn, fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are all foods that can provide us with more fiber. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you may see improvements in your gastrointestinal health.