The Hidden Health Risks of Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn tastes great and is easy to prepare. It’s no wonder why it is something that you are very much likely to have no matter if you are enjoying your favorite TV show at home or watching a blockbuster at the local cinema. But did you know that this highly popular and seemingly harmless snack can put your health in great danger?

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Popcorn per se is not bad for you. In fact, every serving of it supplies your body with protein for muscle building and repair, as well as iron that helps prevent anemia. Popcorn is also loaded with dietary fiber that wards off constipation and heart disease. It may keep cancer and premature aging at bay as every kernel is packed with antioxidants known as polyphenols.

What makes popcorn detrimental to your health is when it comes in the microwavable form being sold at the supermarkets. Even though all of the health-giving benefits of popcorn are still around, the addition of certain ingredients or chemicals for its buttery flavor and its non-stick packaging is the one that gives this all-time favorite snack a tainted reputation.

Majority of butter-flavored microwave popcorns on the current market do not actually contain butter. What they have is the synthetic kind courtesy of the chemical known as diacetyl. Diacetyl is a naturally occurring substance which is a byproduct of fermenting yeast. It is being used to flavor a wide assortment of products such as salad dressings, marinades, baked goodies and chips. However, diacetyl is made really popular by its addition to butter-flavored microwave popcorns.

Even though it naturally exists in nature, too much of diacetyl is bad for the health. This is especially true when inhaled because the chemical is known to leave the lung tissue scarred, preventing the efficient functioning of your organs of respiration. This condition is known as bronchiolitis obliterans (BO) though it is also aptly called at times as “popcorn lung”.

Popcorn lung is commonly observed among individuals working in popcorn factories. Irreversible, the only solution to this life-threatening condition is lung transplant. Each time you open a bag of freshly-popped butter-flavored microwave popcorn, you are increasing your likelihood of suffering from the condition as you are exposed to diacetyl fumes.

Another thing that makes microwave popcorn a dangerous snack is found on the inner side of its packaging. This chemical is called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and it is used to provide a non-stick surface within the bag. There is a big possibility for PFOA to wreak havoc to your health once you ingest popcorn that is contaminated with it. According to the experts, PFOA may increase a person’s likelihood of suffering from cancer, in particular that of the liver and prostate gland.

So what is the best way to dodge those harmful chemicals without getting popcorn out of your life? Opt for popcorn that is popped in the traditional way. Also, check the label to ensure that the product contains none of those dangerous chemicals.

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