Popcorn should not be that snack that holds you back from living a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it should be the one that helps you lose weight as well as maintain it. Yes, we are still talking about popcorn.

Not that movie theater that gets served to you with a mountain of butter poured on top of it or that microwavable bag with all the excess oils, but the air popped popcorn that saves you from cheating on your healthy diet that you’ve been committed to for the last week. If you want to have your popcorn and eat it too while still being a little healthier, we've got you covered.

Nutritional Values

Movie Theater Popcorn

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Sara Carte
According to the Center for Science in Public Interest, if a person were to consume one cup of popcorn made at the movie theaters, it would be 61 calories as well as 50 mg of sodium; this wouldn't be so bad except that a small popcorn contains at least 11 cups in it. This raises the calorie count to 671 and the sodium content to 550 mg. This also does not even include the butter toppings that are added after it is made. If you got a large popcorn, that would be over 1900 calories and 2480 mg of sodium.

The American Heart Association recommends no one should have more than 1500 mg of sodium per day, but the average American still tends to exceed 3,400 mg. By having even a small popcorn at the movies, you are already having 1/3 of what your daily sodium intake should be. Having an excessive amount of sodium per day will raise your blood pressure as well as your chances of having a stroke.

Microwave Popcorn

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Sara Carte

You may think that Microwave popcorn is a lot healthier than movie theater popcorn, but that isn't the case. The average bag contains 10 servings in it, which means roughly 430 calories and 660 mg of sodium are consumed in one sitting. Although the calorie count and sodium level isn't even as close to movie theater popcorn, the health effects are just as bad.

In 2012, microwave popcorn was linked to Alzheimer's disease based on a study that was published in the journal "Chemical Research in Toxicology." The American Chemical Society briefly discussed the study that was done in order to thoroughly articulate it to the general public. Additionally, the popcorn bags have several other chemicals within them that can lower fertility rates, and change a person's entire thyroid functionality.

Air Popped Popcorn

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Sara Carte

A full cup of air popped popcorn is only 31 calories and is roughly 1 mg of sodium. Even if you make 10 cups worth of it, it is still only 310 calories and 10 mg of sodium, which is significantly better than any microwave bag or movie theater popcorn out there. Nevertheless, it is still not recommended to have that much of the popcorn at once, but it was simply used as a comparison. 

Furthermore, the amount of antioxidants that your body will take in is higher than if you were to have fruit. Antioxidants help reduce the risk of diabetes and even contribute to a healthier blood pressure level. Additionally, it is an excellent source of iron, potassium, and polyphenols. Remember, this is ONLY if you do not add any extra oils to your already perfectly healthified air popped popcorn snack.  


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Sara Carte

I know you're thinking "air popped popcorn has no flavor" but that doesn't have to be the case. You don't have to completely suffer by having popcorn plain in order for it to have all its health benefits. Air popping popcorn gives you the ability to control what is actually in it. You can try adding some garlic powder, black pepper, Italian seasoning, or possibly even curry.

Experiment with different add-ins on your popcorn, but remember to be cautious of what you add in order for it to remain one of the healthiest snacks.

Popcorn is impossible to resist, especially when that sweet buttery smell fills every inch of the room you are in. That movie theater or microwave popcorn may be everything that you think you desire at the moment, but remember the risks you are taking by consuming it. The effects it has on your body aren't worth the few minutes that you have before it's completely gone, especially when there's a way to make it healthy, by simply air popping it.