This Could Change Your Mind About Eating Microwave Popcorn

If you're the type that counts popcorn as a major food group, chances are that microwave popcorn ranks high on your list of favorite convenience foods. But there is good reason to think twice about the health benefits of America's favorite (by volume) snack food (via

In years past, bags of microwave popcorn included toxic chemicals. The bags themselves were lined with PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals) which, while doing a great job of preventing grease from seeping through the bag, were also linked to several serious health problems, including kidney cancer and testicular cancer (via Healthline).

Another chemical, diacetyl, which is used as an artificial flavoring to give microwave popcorn its signature buttery aroma and taste, has been linked to serious lung damage when inhaled in significant amounts. The connection between diacetyl and a condition in which the lungs' tiny air sacs become scarred and narrowed, became so well known that it was given the appropriate name — "popcorn lung" (via Eat This, Not That!).

Popping your own popcorn is still the best bet

Both the PFCs and diacetyl were eventually removed from microwave popcorn production, in 2011 and 2007, respectively (via ConAgra Brands). So now it's fine, right? Well, not quite. Unfortunately, according to Food Navigator, the chemicals now being used as their replacements could be just as harmful.

So while today's microwave popcorn is definitely an improvement on what was on the market even just a few years ago, it's still questionable from a health standpoint. That's why it's important to read ingredient labels and choose products that are low in saturated fats, artificial colors, and flavors.

Or better yet, make your own. Homemade popcorn, whether made on the stovetop or in an air popper, is still your healthiest bet. Dan DeFigio, nutrition expert and author of Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies, suggests "Pop your own non-GMO corn at home with an air popper. If you like to flavor it, add organic butter and sea salt, or sprinkle some (real) cheese" (via How Stuff Works). You can still enjoy your low-fat, high-fiber snack with a movie — but without any health risks.