microwave popcorn
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
March 12, 2024 ·  3 min read

5 Reasons To Skip on Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn, while convenient yet oh so crunchy, has become a staple for many movie nights and quick snack cravings – to our potential detriment. Despite its popularity, there are compelling reasons to reconsider having it as a regular part of your diet. Here are five solid reasons why you might want to skip out next time on microwave popcorn:

Extra Ingredients

Different kinds of popcorn in bowl on color background, top view
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While homemade popcorn usually only need a touch of olive oil and salt, microwave popcorn often has a myriad of additional ingredients that may not be so healthy for you.1 One of the biggest offenders is the presence of unhealthy fats, particularly palm oil, which can significantly increase your ability to take in saturated fats. These fats are bad for your heart health and can contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol levels, putting you at risk for cardiovascular issues.

Read More: This 3-Year Old Inhaled a Popcorn Kernel – 6 Months Later, Doctors had to Pull Her Life Support

Excess Sodium

Salt Shaker (close-up shot; selective focus) on vintage wooden background
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Have you ever checked the sodium content in your favorite bag of microwave popcorn? If not, you might be surprised to find that it can contain upwards of 300 milligrams of sodium per serving (which may not be the whole bag…). Considering the recommended daily intake of sodium is somewhere between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams, having a bag of microwave popcorn can easily consume a large part of your daily allowance. Extra sodium in your system means increasing the risk of hypertension and other related health issues.


Food quality control expert inspecting specimens of groceries in the laboratory
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Many microwave popcorn brands have chemicals designed to enhance flavor, preserve ingredients, and prevent grease from soaking through the bag. While some harmful substances like perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been removed (because of their association with cancer and other health conditions), substitutes with potentially similar risks are still in the mix. Regularly consuming these chemicals can lead to higher serum levels and pose health concerns. Speaking of cancer…

Cancer Risk

Flatulence young asian woman, girl hand in stomach ache, suffer from food poisoning, abdominal pain and colon problem, gastritis or diarrhoea. Patient belly, abdomen or inflammation, concept.
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While it’s not the popcorn itself, certain chemicals in microwave popcorn packaging, like per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have been linked to cancer.2 These substances, which resist high temperatures and repel oil, can leech into the popcorn during the heating process and accumulate in the body over time, increasing the risk of various cancers. While efforts have been made to reduce the presence of these chemicals in popcorn packaging, it’s essential to remain cautious about potential health risks. Read what you’re eating.

Read More: Parents Warn Others About Popcorn After Their Son Was Admitted Into Surgery

Popcorn Lung

Blackboard with the chemical formula of Diacetyl
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Another concerning risk from microwave popcorn is the potential development of bronchiolitis obliterans, commonly known as “popcorn lung.” No it’s not from getting popcorn in your lungs, it’s from an exposure to diacetyl, a chemical used in making a buttery flavor found in your popcorn.3 Although manufacturers have phased out the use of diacetyl in most microwave popcorn products, occasional cases of this severe lung disease have been reported since, so remain vigilant.

The Bottom Line

Popcorn cooked in a microwave oven still in the bag.
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While microwave popcorn offers a quick and easy snack, it’s important to consider the potential health risks associated with it. There are clearly a few compelling reasons to exercise caution and explore healthier snack alternatives. Whether opting for air-popped popcorn or making stovetop varieties instead, prioritizing your health and well-being is paramount in snack choices. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.

Read More: It was banned by the FDA, yet it’s in hundreds of candies. Why?


  1. The #1 Reason Why You Shouldn’t Eat Microwave Popcorn.” Eat This. Sarah Bradley. March 16, 2021.
  2. Does microwave popcorn cause cancer?Medical News Today. Jessica Caporuscio, PharmD. October 27, 2023
  3. Is Microwave Popcorn Bad For You?Very Well Health. Rebeca Schiller. October 06, 2023