Growing up, microwave popcorn was a ritual during Friday night movie nights. It’s easy to prepare and cheap (depending on the brand). However, what most people don’t know is that microwave popcorn is actually very bad for you and can even be deadly. While this news isn’t exactly, well, new, it’s still something you should know. Here’s why:

Trans fat

microwave popcorn

Photo by Meredith Marcus

Weren’t trans fat supposed to not be a thing anymore? Apparently not. Popular popcorn brands such as PopSecret and Jolly Time still use trans-fat. Many do not realize that trans-fat raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease.

While the Food & Drug Administration has put bans and limits on how much one can have, foods that contain less than 0.5 grams can just put 0 grams on their food label. These can add up if multiple servings for a product is eaten. And the worse part? Trans fat NEVER leave your body — gross right?

Hidden Ingredients

microwave popcorn

Photo by Meredith Marcus

What is actually in your popcorn? A little MSG, artificial butter flavoring and the development of lung disease for the workers in the factory. Studies have found that workers in microwave popcorn factories were developing a very serious lung disease. The reason? Diacetyl, a chemical made from butane, is used in the making of popcorn. It is so deadly that the CDC warns workers to limit their exposure.

The Packaging

microwave popcorn

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Microwave popcorn is very convenient because you can just throw it in the microwave and hit a few buttons and viola! However, the packaging can do some serious damage. The bag is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid or, for short, PFOA. Basically, it is very harmful and is linked to infertility, cancer and other terrible diseases.

Getting Burned

microwave popcorn

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And I am not talking getting insulted. While microwave popcorn is not the only food that can burn you through steam, it is definitely a risk to consider. Steam burns are very painful and especially dangerous in terms of popcorn because it is usually children that are the victims. The LAST thing a parent wants to come home to is the babysitter letting their 6 year-old make popcorn by themselves.


microwave popcorn

Photo by Stephanie Lee

Luckily, there are yummy alternatives that not only taste better, but are better for you.

Besides the interesting name, Pirate’s Booty is a great alternative to microwave popcorn (in moderation). While I do not recommended eating a 14 oz. bag at one time (oops!), it is safer to eat. The packaging will not harm you and it is not loaded with insane amounts of butter. As a bonus, it is both gluten and trans-fat free.

Nuts are a great snack because there are a wide variety to choose from so you cannot get bored. Pistachio, cashews, almonds, and my favorite, peanuts. Nuts range in price and can come in different flavors such as butter toffee peanuts, chocolate covered almonds and honey roasted cashews. Nuts are easy to pack and produce very little mess.

If you insist on having popcorn during your movie, making your own popcorn is always an easy and safe alternative.