Popcorn has always been viewed as a healthier alternative to snacking when compared to chips or cookies. Often paired with a good movie, it is safe to assume that this snack is consumed regularly by most Americans. In fact, in most homes today, having microwavable popcorn in the pantry may be considered a “must-have”.
Enjoyed by people of all ages, it may be surprising to hear that popcorn could actually be harmful for our health—some research suggests that popcorn – microwavable in particular – may even cause cancer. Could this popular snack really contain cancer-causing elements? Before you pop your next bag of popcorn, let’s do some research.
Making homemade popcorn may seem like more work than simply stuffing a bag in the microwave, but research suggests that it may be better for our health. A news website, Fox Insight, spoke with Dr. Mehmet Oz about the dangers of microwaveable popcorn and found “that the smell [after opening a popped bag] is actually a chemical called diacetyl, a synthetic butter flavoring added to the product.” It is probably not surprising that microwaveable popcorn contains chemicals and synthetic flavoring, but can it really be possible that this popular snack is dangerous for our health?
Unfortunately, some health experts believe it is. According to Fox Insight, “PFOA [a man-made chemical] lines the bag,” of microwaveable popcorn and is incredibly harmful to our health. PFOA, otherwise known as perfluorooctanoic acid, is the reason popcorn doesn’t stick inside of the popcorn bag. Our popcorn may slide easily out of the bag, but “It can cause thyroid issues, high cholesterol and bladder cancer,” Fox Insight explains. Sadly, this seemingly innocent snack is packed with hidden dangers that are potentially unsafe for our health.
A health and wellness website, Live Strong, explains that “Dr. Frank Gilliland and colleagues reported in a 1993 article in the “Journal of Occupational Medicine” that factory workers exposed to the chemical [PFOA] had increased cancer mortality.”
While the amount of PFOA you are exposed to when opening a bag of popcorn isn’t nearly as much as those working in factories with the chemical is, it’s still unsettling to know that a cancer-causing chemical is in our food. So, if you love popcorn and are upset by this research, don’t worry! While there isn’t much saving grace for store-bought microwaveable popcorn, healthier options are available. On Fox Insight, Dr. Oz suggests to “put organic kernels in a brown paper bag and lay it flat in the microwave. After a few minutes, you’ll have the exact same product without all the dangerous chemicals.” If you are more adventurous, you can pop popcorn on the stove with as few ingredients as kernels, and oil! Top with tin foil and you should be good to go.
Verdict: Truth. Microwavable popcorn has been linked to contain harmful chemicals that could cause cancer. Unfortunately, it may be best to get rid of any leftover microwaveable popcorn that may be lingering in your house and, instead, consider alternative ways to make this snack. By popping kernels yourself, you’ll know exactly what ingredients you are adding and, therefore, enjoy your snack without any potential risky additives.
Did you know about the microwave popcorn health risk?