Perhaps it’s not “pass the popcorn,” but “pass on eating the popcorn” if it’s microwaved or bought at the movie theater.

Is Microwave Popcorn Toxic?

We’ve learned a lot about microwave popcorn in recent years. The steam released when you open the bag brings with it a waft of powerful aroma, but did you know that the steam has dozens of chemicals, including ink and glue from the bag? One of the most troublesome additives in microwave popcorn is diacetyl, which when heated at high temperatures becomes toxic. In addition, a problematic chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid is used in the coating on the inside of the popcorn bag. Perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8, has been associated with certain cancers, including prostate and liver cancer. Microwave popcorn cannot be considered healthy. Eat at your own risk.

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A Popcorn Movie?

Movies and popcorn go hand in hand, but would you still be ordering that large tub if you knew it’s loaded with fat, sodium, and calories? Let’s not forget about the “butter-like” flavoring that is chock full of artificial ingredients. A large tub can come in at more than 1100 calories and contain 1500 milligrams of sodium and 50 grams of saturated fats—and that’s before they add any type of butter flavoring. Theater popcorn is not a healthy option.

The Nominations Are in

Plain air-popped popcorn is a whole grain, low in calories, and the healthiest alternative. A cup of air-popped popcorn has about 30 calories and 0 grams of fat. Next in line is the stovetop variety of oil-popped popcorn, which has 55 calories per cup and 3 grams of fat, but is still a tastier and healthier alterative to its microwave or movie theater cousins. More and more consumers are taking their homegrown popcorn alternatives to the theaters, where they can sit, watch the show, and chomp away on a healthy alternative.


  1. Cespedes A.  How healthy is popcorn? Livestrong website. Updated March 13, 2014.
  2. Spriggs B. The cancer risk of microwave popcorn.  Livestrong website. Updated May 27, 2014.
  3. Warner J. Movie theater popcorn a calorie bomb. Web MD website. November 19, 2009.