Is popcorn a healthy snack or not? Weighing the pros, cons

Friday is National Popcorn Day

Stock image. Megha Mangal (Pexels)

The small or the large tub?

Butter or no butter?

Recommended Videos

Those are often decisions moviegoers make when at the theater and are in the mood for some popcorn to go along with their show.

The same goes when sitting down at home to watch a movie or ballgame and desiring a snack.

But once the show or game is over and the popcorn is consumed, will there ultimately be a big weight gain? Is popcorn actually a healthier alternative to other snacks?

In light of Friday being National Popcorn Day, let’s examine those questions and what the pros and cons of popcorn are.

If prepared and consumed right, popcorn can have some health benefits

Below are some perks popcorn can bring to your health, according to WebMD.

  • Popcorn is high in fiber.
  • Popcorn contains a type of antioxidant called phenolic acids.
  • Consuming popcorn may reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
  • Weight gain can be minimized by eating popcorn due to its high fiber content and being low in calories.

It must be noted though, that the above health benefits of popcorn come primarily through consuming it plain or with minimal add-ons, and air popping it. The add-ons that can be tolerable are light butter or olive oil, a little salt and pepper, chile flakes or grated cheese.

How popcorn can become detrimental to your health

Obviously, popcorn prepared at the movie theaters can be way different than popcorn prepared at home. All the different flavors of popcorn that are available now, such as salted caramel, cinnamon sugar and parmesan garlic, also change the dynamic of popcorn as a healthy snack.

Consuming popcorn in different flavors, or adding loads of butter or salt to it, will take away any healthy elements as a snack.

In addition, preparing popcorn in a bag or in a machine used in movie theaters can also negate any health benefits.

For example, a tub of movie theater popcorn can contain up to 1,090 calories and 2,650 milligrams of sodium, according to

Interesting facts about popcorn

The bottom line is that, like most snacks or foods, popcorn can be beneficial if made right without a lot of add-ons.

But of course, it’s hard not to treat yourself every once in a while by adding at least a LITTLE more butter to it!

In honor of National Popcorn Day, here are some interesting facts about the treat, according to America’s Favorite Gourmet Popcorn.

  • Popcorn is over 5,000 years old.
  • Microwaveable popcorn was invented in 1982 by Pillsbury.
  • Charles Cretors invented the first commercial popcorn machine in 1885.
  • The state that produces the most popcorn in the U.S. is Nebraska, which makes around 250 million pounds per year.
  • Popcorn can reach up to 3 feet in distance when popping.
  • Popcorn has three common shapes, rice, South American and pearl. The most popular shape is pearl.
  • Popcorn kernels are 4% water, which causes it to pop when heated up.

Happy National Popcorn Day!

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

Recommended Videos