Is popcorn healthy snack? Popular brands put to test

SAN ANTONIO – Sales of ready-to-eat popcorn bags are popping off the shelves. Research shows that's partly because it's perceived as a healthy snack.

Some bagged popcorn brands have healthy-sounding names, but are they really good for you?

Popcorn has a healthy reputation. After all, it's whole grain and a good source of antioxidants. So the food experts at Consumer Reports popped open 15 bags of ready-to-eat stuff -- salty, sweet and cheesy.

First, they tested the salty ones for taste and nutrition.

"We selected five popular brands with a clean ingredient list just -- popcorn, oil and salt," Trisha Calvo, with Consumer Reports, said.

One surprise was Skinny Pop. It scored very good for taste. But despite its name, it has more calories and fat than the other four.

Smartfood Delight sea salt also got very good marks for taste and good marks for nutrition.

The best of the bunch was Angie's Boom Chicka Pop sea salt popcorn. It rated excellent for taste and good for nutrition.

As for the sweet and cheesy flavors, testers actually found some were not as unhealthful as you might think.

Two cups of Cape Cod's salted caramel has just 10 more calories than the sea salt version, and about 1 more fat gram.

But  2 cups of Angie's Boom Chicka Pop white cheddar has 50 more calories and triple the sodium of its sea salt version.

Popcorn can be a good cure for the munchies, but just keep an eye on the label.

Another option is that you can make it yourself with just a little salt or seasoning for a fraction of the cost of a bag that might have a lot of additives.