Background Info:

Popcorn is going beyond the movie theater and entering the home as a snack thanks to new flavor options. Check out my post on innovative ready-to-eat popcorn for more info.

  • Not recommended for children under 4 due to choking hazard

Health Benefits:

Depending on the preparation & portion size, popcorn can actually be a healthful & delicious snack or become a vehicle for added sugar, fat, sodium, and calories.

Nutrition Information (in 3 cups of air-popped popcorn):

  • 100% whole grain
  • Calories: < 100
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams
  • Sodium: 2 mg

If you eat a large tub of movie theater popcorn this could turn into >1000 calories & a few days’ worth of saturated fat.


  • Air-popped popcorn is not available at movie theaters therefore choose a small size & don’t add butter. It can still contain up to 6 cups of popcorn so share with a friend instead of each getting your own.
  • When choosing microwave popcorn, pick the 100-calorie, single-serving bags that are low in fat with no partially hydrogenated oil.
  • Bagged pre-popped popcorn will not have trans fat but can be high in calories, especially candy-coated varieties that have up to 10 teaspoons of added sugar. Treat this more like a dessert than a whole-grain snack.


  • Make your own popcorn by putting 1/4 cup of kernels in a brown paper lunch bag, add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, fold the top twice, place in microwave, and pop for 2-3 minutes
  • You can also do this in a pot on the stove over medium-high heat keeping the lid on & shaking continuously until popping ceases
  • Try these add-ons:
    • Sprinkle with chili powder & lime juice
    • Mix with roasted nuts/chickpeas
    • Toss with Parmesan & fresh rosemary
    • Add some heat with cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning mix
    • Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with garlic & black pepper
    • Dust with cinnamon & some brown sugar


  • Buying a larger size at the theater may make you eat more, even if it’s stale. In 2005, researchers found moviegoers ate 45% more fresh popcorn and 34% more 14-day-old popcorn when it was served in large containers

Zelman, Kathleen. “The Power of Popcorn.” Food & Nutrition. July/August 2015. 20-21.


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