November 19, 2013 - If you or someone you know is still eating microwave popcorn, listen up! I cant tell you how many countless times I used to eat microwave popcorn when I worked in an office. My co-workers would buy one of those packs from the vending machine in the break room and pop that sucker right into the microwave and the whole floor would smell DELICIOUS! I just couldnt help myself. It was the one thing in the vending machine that always had to be refilled week after week way before the stale peanuts.
The bag almost all microwave popcorn varieties come in is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This chemical is the same toxic stuff found in teflon pots and pans. It can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. This chemical when heated has been linked to infertility, cancer and other diseases in lab animals. No long term studies have been conducted on humans, but the EPA lists this substance as a carcinogen.
Heres a snapshot of several popular popcorn brands and the ingredients they contain.
Even though there are no sources of genetically modified popcorn kernels being produced (thats saved for other varieties of corn), there are several other GMO ingredients in the form of oil or emulsifiers to be found in these popcorn flavors. GMOs have never been tested long term on human beings and are linked to a slew of health issues that are rising in this country. All of these brands do not use organic corn either, so you can be sure they contain harmful pesticides.
Brands like PopSecret and Jolly Time still use trans fat, which is considered one of the most deadly fats available because it is associated with 20,000 heart attacks a year and over 7,000 deaths according to the CDC.
Proply Gallate that is found in PopSecret is one of those ingredients thats being phased out in the rest of the world, but still being used here for a preservative in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Its linked to all sorts of health issues like skin rashes, stomach issues and breathing problems.
TBHQ that is found in Smart Balance, stands for Tertiary Butylhydroquinone. Its a dead giveaway that you shouldnt be eating this, if food companies have to use an acronym for a long chemical name on the ingredient label.
TBHQ is a chemical made from butane (a very toxic gas) and can only be used at a rate of 0.02 percent of the total oil in a product. Why is there a limit to this? Maybe because eating only 1 gram of this toxic preservative has been shown to cause all sorts of issues, from ADHD in children, to asthma, allergies and dermatitis to dizziness and even has caused stomach cancer in laboratory animals.
Limiting TBHQ to a certain percentage, is the same logic the FDA made when allowing a product to still contain 0.5 grams of transfat and be labeled transfat free. If you are consuming processed foods, eating at fast food restaurants or chains that use processed foods you are consuming an overload of preservatives and other chemicals. The accumulation of eating all these different preservatives and man-made chemicals at once has not been studied by the food companies or the FDA for safety.
Even though natural flavors and artificial flavors are listed on the ingredient label of microwave popcorn, we have no way of knowing whats actually in these ingredients. Food manufacturers wont tell you and they hide things in there like MSG, beavers anal glands and diacetyl butter flavoring. Whats so wrong with a little bit of artificial butter flavoring? Well a lot. This stuff is seriously toxic, which forced Conagra Foods to remove it from their Act branded Microwave popcorn recently because it causes lung issues in workers. This ingredient is also linked to brain issues which cause Alzheimers Disease too. Dr. Mercola reports:
Researchers conducting test-tube studies revealed that diacetyl has several concerning properties for brain health. Not only can it pass through the blood-brain barrier, which is intended to help keep toxins out of your brain, but it can also cause brain proteins to misfold into the Alzheimers-linked form known as beta amyloid. It also inhibits mechanisms that help to naturally clear the dangerous beta amyloid from your brain.1
Its not known at this time whether eating diacetyl-containing foods (its used not only in microwave popcorn but also in other snack foods, baked goods, pet foods, some fast foods and other food products) increases your risk of Alzheimers, but the finding that it may contribute to brain plaques linked to Alzheimers at very low concentrations is concerning, to say the least.
Orville Redenbachers label explicitly says they do not use this flavoring anymore, but there are popcorn varieties that still do, so watch out, if you see the words artificial flavor on the label of any processed food, back up far away!
Make Your Own (It Takes 5 mins!)
Making your own popcorn from scratch is so EASY and you can avoid all of these health pitfalls. If you need to take some to the office or where ever you are going (like sneaking it into the movie theatre), I recommend making it in advance and throwing it in a reusable bag.
This recipe takes 5 mins. The extra 2 minutes (over microwave popcorn) is time definitely worth committing to.
I call this recipe Superfood Popcorn because it contains three amazing ingredients:
- Coconut oil that is great for your metabolism
- Hemp seeds that are full of omega 3 fatty acids
- Red palm oil that contains the highest amounts of vitamins A and E of any plant-based oil
I have to say, the red palm oil took this popcorn from about an 9 to an 11 on a scale from 1 to 10. It looks and tastes like yummy comforting butter (and the color matches that movie theatre popcorn without all the added chemical ingredients). Also, the added texture of the hemp seeds combined with sea salt is so good and crunchy.
I made a bowl of this last week and it was heavenly! Its seriously amazing I cant wait to hear your reports.
Please note red palm oil is different from palm kernel oil (that is grown in SouthEast Asia and killing orangutans). Red palm oil comes from Ecuador and harvested sustainably. Dr. Oz does a great job of explaining the difference between red palm fruit oil and palm kernel oil here if youd like to learn more.
Prep time - 5 mins
Cook time - 5 mins
Total time - 10 mins
***Please buy all organic ingredients if possible.***
In advance of this post, I reached out to Nutiva (my favorite superfood company), to see if they could create a special crazy deal based on these ingredients and they did! If youd like to get your hands on some hemp seeds, red palm oil and/or coconut oil at a discount check it out here.
And by the way, its pretty amazing the CEO of Nutiva John Roulac, would say outright in a news interview that the end goal for his company is to see Monsanto go bankrupt I love voting with my dollars to support him and his company.
If you know someone who is still consuming microwave popcorn, please do your part and share this post with them especially if they are your co-workers
Together we are changing the way our families and friends eat and I love that!
Hooray to healthy popcorn!
P.S. Check out this hilarious interview I did on CNN last weekend about trans fats, popcorn and Funyuns. Being on the Don Lemon Show with Alexa Towersey was so fun! Don was a riot. When you watch it, youll see what I mean.