Popcorn is one of the most popular snacks in the entire world. It’s eaten at movies, sporting events, on the couch and even in the office. Yet there is a dark side to the microwaved popcorn. The method in which it is produced and the ingredients used in its production are not healthy for both the workers in the production facility as well as the consumers who eat it. Let us examine exactly what is so unhealthy about microwaved popcorn and also know how to make popcorn that is safe to eat and still tasty.
Harmful Ingredients And Health Conditions
Workers in popcorn production facilities have won class action lawsuits against their employers for being exposed to harmful chemicals that resulted in terrible health problems. The massive amounts of artificial butter flavoring used in these production facilities are harmful to the lungs and have even been linked to cancer. Prolonged exposure to the harmful chemicals found in the artificial butter flavorings is commonly referred to as “popcorn lung” or Bronchiolitis Obliterans. This is a severe scarring of the lungs that can be fatal if left untreated. Many former microwaveable popcorn facility workers are still on wait lists for lung transplants.
The chemical known as diacetyl has been pinpointed as the main cause of popcorn lung. Its fumes are incredibly harmful. Facility workers breathed these fumes in for years while adding artificial butter flavorings to microwaveable popcorn bags en masse. Exposure to diacetyl has also been linked to poor brain health. It passes right through the brain’s blood barrier and causes proteins to fold improperly. The result is the creation of plaque in the brain that has been linked to Alzheimer’s and other health problems. Although many microwaveable popcorn producers have removed diacetyl from the ingredients, health experts consider the chemicals that have been used to replace it to be just as harmful. So, if you are determined to continue eating microwavable popcorn, opt for a brand that does not contain any artificial flavors at all.
GMOs, Trans Fats and Proply Gallate
The artificial flavorings and oils inside of microwaveable popcorn packages are full of GMOs. GMOs have been proven to lead to a number of health problems. Certain brands of microwavable popcorn make use of trans fats that are proven to clog arteries that result in heart attacks. The CDC states that trans fats are linked to 7,000 deaths per year and 20,000 heart attacks. Outside of the United States, many countries are disallowing microwavable popcorn producers from using a preservative called proply gallate. Doctors and scientists have linked it to breathing complications, skin rashes and stomach bugs.
Another problem chemical used in microwavable popcorn oils is tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). This nasty chemical is produced from the harmful gas called butane. Currently, the FDA limits the use of TBHQ to a mere 0.02 percent of the oil in any food product. This is because consumption of TBHQ in even miniscule amounts can lead to a variety of health issues like asthma, ADHD in kids, dizzy spells, allergies, stomach problems and dermatitis.
There’s also a coating inside of the popcorn bags called perfluorochemicals (PFCs). PFCs prevent the kernels and popped popcorn from sticking to the bag’s interior. Unfortunately, PFCs have been tied to numerous health problems like thyroid disease, cancer, ADHD and damage to the reproductive organs. Our bodies don’t know how to flush PFCs out so they end up accumulating in large amounts, causing significant harm in both the short and long term.
One commonly overlooked ingredient in microwavable popcorn is the oils. The kernels are typically coated with very unhealthy GMO laden oils like soybean, canola and vegetable oil. These oils are chemically removed from seeds then deodorized and manipulated. The result is oil that is full of harmful chemicals including a neurotoxin known as hexane. Also, human cells are mutated by the omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in vegetable oils.
Healthy Popcorn Alternatives
The purpose of this article is not to pose a problem without offering a solution. Scrap the microwavable popcorn and buy a hot air or electric popper along with some organic popcorn kernels. Hot air and electric poppers heat up in no time and produce tasty popcorn that is just as satisfying as microwaved popcorn.
Or, put some organic popcorn kernels into a large stove top pan, cover it and turn on the heat. Once the kernels have popped, remove the pan from the stove top, turn off the burner and add seasonings. This way you won’t be ingesting any harmful chemicals but you’ll still be able to eat delicious freshly popped popcorn.
While eating a bag of microwaved popcorn every once in a while won’t cause you to drop dead, consistent use of the product might eventually lead to some serious health consequences. So, spend a few extra dollars and just a little bit more time to make popcorn on the stove top or with a an electric or air popper. Your craving will be satisfied and your health won’t be compromised.