April 20, 2018
Picking a Popcorn

Supermarket Buying Guide: Snack Foods

Picking a Popcorn

by Edward R. Blonz, Ph.D.  

  • Whether selecting a bag of already popped corn or a microwave popcorn, avoid those that list partially hydrogenated oil, an indication that some unhealthful trans fat is present. The amount may be small, but it adds up if you eat several servings at a time.
  • Look for “light” popcorns, which have less fat and/or fewer calories than their regular counterparts. They vary in how “light” they really are, though, so check the labels to find one with no more than 3 to 5 grams of fat per serving.
  • Sodium is tougher to limit as most packaged popcorns have about 200 to 300 milligrams per ounce—though you may be able to find unsalted versions.
  • Be careful of flavored varieties, like cheddar, which typically have extra fat and calories.
  • Keep in mind that “kettle corn” often contains just as much fat as regular popcorn as well as lots of added sugar. Some use artificial sweetener instead.
  • Make your own popcorn at home. You can use an air-popper or a special bowl designed for popping corn in the microwave without fat. A 4-cup serving of dry-popped corn has only 120 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 4 grams of fiber. To spice it up, dust the popcorn with chili powder, cumin, cinnamon or another dry seasoning, or sprinkle with finely grated sharp cheese, such as Parmesan. If the condiments don’t stick, give the popcorn a quick spritz of vegetable oil spray, toss and then add the seasoning.

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