Hot Issues & Myths

Occasionally, we see outdated or false information about popcorn in the media—usually shared by people who are not doctors or scientists or who don’t have the education and training to make these statements. So, we want to clarify a few things:

More Myths

Microwave Popcorn Does Not Cause Cancer

Does microwave popcorn cause cancer? No, microwave popcorn does not cause cancer, nor does it contain any carcinogens or GMOs. [1]

It comes from the same seeds as every other type of popcorn. Microwave popcorn is FDA approved for consumption. Microwave popcorn bags are likewise considered safe and approved by the FDA. 

Popcorn is a healthy grain and a healthy food. [2]  It is a whole-grain food with no additional chemicals. 

From a nutrition standpoint, plain microwave popcorn is a safe, whole grain snack.

Some types of microwave popcorn may contain additional ingredients of varying nutritional value including artificial flavors, which provide consumers with different flavor choices. Of course, plain microwave popcorn is always available as well. As with all food products, always check the label for complete information on ingredients and nutritional value. 

Bronchiolitis Obliterans or "Popcorn Lung" - The Facts

The medical condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans (or the slang term “popcorn lung”) is an inflammatory condition that affects the lung's tiniest airways, the bronchioles.

Some common causes of bronchiolitis obliterans include inhaling chemicals such as chlorine, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, welding fumes and food-flavoring fumes. Respiratory infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, or Mycoplasma pneumonia have been linked with bronchiolitis obliterans as well. See a healthcare professional for a complete list of causes and possible treatments for “popcorn lung.” “Popcorn lung” is not caused by eating popcorn. 

The term “popcorn lung” is an inaccurate and misleading name.

It was coined over a decade ago when workers in a microwave popcorn factory were sickened by breathing in diacetyl—an ingredient formerly used in foods like popcorn, caramel and dairy products. Shortly thereafter, in 2007, popcorn manufacturers removed diacetyl from their products. [4]

The former use of diacetyl is also the reason why “popcorn lung” is sometimes associated with e-cigarettes, or vaping. Some e-cigarette flavors contain diacetyl as an ingredient, and it is a possible cause of bronchiolitis obliterans. Popcorn itself is not. 

Popcorn Nutrition Facts 

Popcorn is a whole grain that is 100-percent unprocessed with no additional additives, hidden ingredients, or GMOs. Additionally, popcorn is relatively high in fiber and has a good glycemic index (GI) of 55. [5]

In fact, one serving of popcorn can provide about 70-percent of an individual’s recommended daily intake of whole grain. It has no cholesterol, it is virtually fat-free (only 0.1 g per cup) and a serving of five popped cups contains only 100 to 150 calories. Popcorn also has a number of essential vitamins including: folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid and vitamins B6, A, E and K. [6] A serving of popcorn contributes about 8-percent of the daily value of iron, with lesser amounts of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. [7]

Popcorn is a good snack for diabetics as it does not impact blood sugar levels. [8] Additionally, the USDA Agricultural Research Service says “low GI diets have proven health benefits. They improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with type 1, as well as type 2, diabetes. Because they are slowly absorbed, they help in weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Fiber is good for diabetics because research suggests that it helps to control blood sugar levels by slowing gastric emptying.” [9]

Popcorn is FDA approved for consumption and its packaging is also approved for consumer use.