Is Popcorn Good or Bad for You? Is Popcorn GMO-Free?

June 19, 2013 · 28 comments

popcorn good or bad

Is Popcorn Good or Bad for You?

Have you wondered if popcorn is a healthy snack to indulge in, or if it is GMO-free?

A recent Facebook discussion opened up this can of worms so I did some looking around, and thought I’d let you know what I found out with a little Q & A…

1.  Should popcorn be soaked or sprouted since it’s a whole grain, and whole grains contain phytic acid, which blocks mineral absorption?

Corn is fairly low in phytic acid so popcorn in moderation is probably fine.  Also, when it is eaten with melted butter, the saturated fats help mitigate the effects of phytic acid.”  (From the WAPF)


As it turns out, popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can eat and polyphenols are the reason why.  Polyphenols are a type of chemical found in plant foods that help neutralize free radicals, those nasty little baddies that damage your cells and contribute to rapid aging.  Popcorn has one of the highest levels of polyphenols of any plant food – including most fruit!

Even though homemade popcorn is a fantastic and healthy snack choice, as with anything, don’t overdo.   Corn that is not soaked or sprouted prior to cooking contains anti-nutrients that can inflame digestion if consumed to excess.  

Take care to seek organic popcorn since most conventional popcorn will have been sprayed with pesticides.”  (Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist)

2.  What about store-bought microwave popcorn?

This one’s easy:  AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE!  Just look at the label on that nasty stuff and it’s enough to send you running away in shock and disgust.  You’ll see all sorts of chemical unpronouncables in there.  A friend of ours, however, does like to put popcorn in a paper sack, all by itself, and pop it in the microwave that way.  That’s waaaaay better than the junk from the store, but since we try to avoid the microwave as much as possible, I just get out this Stainless Steel Popcorn Popper that I love and it takes only a few minutes!  (Make sure you don’t get the aluminum one.)

3.  Is popcorn GMO-free?

At the Seeds of Doubt conference recently, Jeffery Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and GMO expert, assured us that even though almost 90% of the corn grown and eaten in this country is GMO corn, popcorn comes from a different seed and has not been genetically modified.”  (Source)

What a relief, huh?!

4.  How can popcorn be good for us, especially if you make it with coconut oil and put butter and sea salt on top?  

Still think saturated fats are bad for us?  Read this about healthy fats and you’ll be relieved to know the truth.  Here’s the healthy coconut oil I use.  Butter and coconut oil are superfoods that boost our immune system!

Still think salt should be avoided?  Just get the right kind of salt!  Read more about how beneficial sea salt is in our diets.  Here’s the sea salt I use.

And here is my popcorn recipe made with coconut oil.  Or check out my Kettle Corn recipe!

5.  Your turn!  

Anything you’re wondering about popcorn?

Speaking of popcorn…  kids movies

We rarely go to movies anymore, but I did take the kids to see Epic the other day (to the only theater around here that has real butter), and that was really cute!

Around here, our latest favorites are the two pictured on the right:  we love watching old Brady Bunch episodes!  Also, the Magic School Bus movies are a big hit and they beg to watch “just one episode”, but don’t tell them how educational they are or they might quit asking.  :)

What’s your latest favorite movie, or what are your favorite kids’ movies?

popcorn good or bad


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    { 28 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Diane June 19, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Popcorn is not allowed on the SCD/GAPS diet as it is not a monosaccharide.


    2 KitchenKop June 19, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Most are not on the SCD/GAPS Diet, though!


    3 Renee R June 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Kelly, I gotta know which local theater uses REAL butter?!
    p.s. I got the job!


    4 KitchenKop June 19, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    YAY!!! Congrats to you, I’ve been wondering and praying for you!!!

    It’s Celebration North on the Beltline. You have to ask for it and pay extra of course, but it’s worth it. :)



    5 AmandaLP June 19, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    I love popcorn! Cooked in coconut oil, topped with more coconut oil and butter, it is awesome :)

    One note: GMO corn crops require that 20% of their planting be “respite” (non GMO) crops for the bugs, as to keep the effectiveness of GMO pesticides “working.” So, many corn farmers use popcorn for this crop, so non organic popcorn probably has lots of pesticide residue on it. I use organic popcorn for this reason.


    6 Sarah June 20, 2013 at 12:29 am

    We love the Brady Bunch as well! We watch 2 episodes a week with homemade pizza night. So glad that we are not the only ones!


    7 Lynette @ Victory Homemaking June 20, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Good info, Kelly! I just bought a 25 lb bag of organic popcorn from my food co-op (and split with a few girlfriends). It was only $1 a pound and is as good or better than any “gourmet” variety.

    My kiddos have been crazy about the Brady Bunch, too, lately! They get the DVD’s at the library, but have used their own money to buy a couple of seasons from Amazon. Funny!


    8 Elle June 20, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Thanks for the reassurance regarding the phytic acid! We recently made organic popcorn with coconut oil and ghee, plus sea salt and nutritional yeast. It was *heavenly*!!! :)


    9 Kelly the Kitchen Kop June 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    I forgot about nutritional yeast, remind me what it tastes like?



    10 Elle June 20, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    It’s kind of cheesy – we love it! And lots of B vitamins in there. I believe WAPF recommends only specific brands (e.g. Frontier) because others have MSG as a side-product of the manufacturing process.


    11 Ima June 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Um… Miss Kelly, I think you just might live inside my little brain. I swear!! You ALWAYS seem to post my direct thoughts-with answers ;-)

    Word up for popcorn!!! Our family digs a huge bowl loaded up with either gee or coconut oil and sea salt. Oh, and recently we did some bacon grease. Whoa.


    12 Kelly the Kitchen Kop June 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    COOL about my post topics, anything else you’re wondering about? Email me and I’ll try to cover it soon. :)

    Bacon grease, yum! I’ll have to try that one!



    13 This Woman Writes -- Carolyn Henderson June 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    It’s good to know that popcorn seeds haven’t yet been GMO’d, but I found some organically grown in our local happy healthy store and paid the extra for the extra insurance. It’s multi-colored, and it’s the tastiest stuff I’ve ever, well, tasted. Very cornlike, if that doesn’t sound too obvious, but it surprised me.

    My main concern with eating popcorn are the unexpected unpopped kernels that can, in less than a second, crack a filling or a tooth. I’m more cautious about that these days, and eat one fluffy at a time, as opposed to shoveling my mouth full like a goat eating lettuce.


    14 Margaret June 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    We love popcorn nights! Add in the Brady Bunch, and we are one happy family.


    15 ValerieH June 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    My school district has rules about bringing treats to school, that they must be packaged. I’m not sure how official is it. A teacher aide called me and asked me to help with the monthly birthday party for my daughter’s class, since her birthday was that month. I told her I don’t want to buy junk food from the grocery store. She asked if I could bring popcorn and bag each serving individually. I jumped at the chance to bring something healthy. You should see what most of those kids eat.
    I had to bring 50 servings (2 classes in the party). Although I avoid the microwave, this was the fastest way to get it done. Popcorn can’t exactly be made ahead of time. I melted the butter in a glass dish and poured it in the bottom of the bowl. Then I measured 1/4 cup or organic popcorn kernels into the paper bag, crumbled it, and used the popcorn setting. I got it out based on the popping sounds. Then I tossed it in the melted butter using a spatula. It distributes more evenly when the butter is in the bottom. Each batch made 5-6 snack size bags. So I had to make 10 batches before work in the morning.
    I bought this popcorn at Good Food Festival held every year in Chicago.


    16 KitchenKop June 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

    That sounds good, but I actually make popcorn ahead all of the time – it’s not AS good as when it’s hot and fresh, but it’s pretty close! :)



    17 Beth June 23, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    We’ll make some up and divide into bags for car trips or on-the-go snacks. When I saw the title I thought, “Oh, no!” but was thrilled that popcorn is still okay (in moderation).


    18 Elizabeth Good June 23, 2013 at 4:11 am

    This is all so helpful & reassurring, and very useful info (and bacon grease on popcon, OMG).
    However, I have another concern. Isn’t popcorn filled with aflatoxins? Many people in the health field say to avoid it at all costs…


    19 Beth June 23, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I’m sensitive to aflatoxin and absolutely cannot eat even a spoonful of unsoaked beans, like canned commercial beans. I also cannot eat unsoaked (un-nixtimilized) corn chips/tortillas regardless of whether either of these are organic. I have noticed that if I binge on popcorn daily for several days I will start to get slight symptoms. Nothing like with unsoaked beans or cornmeal products. So, my very unscientific input is that it may very well be there; although in less amounts than beans or stored cornmeal. Interesting aspect to investigate.

    BTW, I can eat properly prepared beans daily with absolutely no problems.


    20 KitchenKop June 25, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I’m not sure, it wasn’t mentioned at all as one of the “corns” on the list here:

    Based on what it said there about how to avoid aflatoxins, keeping popcorn in the freezer would be smart, just in case.

    Peanuts *were* mentioned however, which is why I’d like to get my family totally onto this stuff that I love:


    21 Paula June 24, 2013 at 3:30 am

    If either I or my daughter eat non organic popcorn, we get the same crazy symptoms we get if we consume GMO corn. I am sure the pesticides have something to do with this, but still, something is not right with saying there is no problem with cross contamination.


    22 Domini August 1, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I’ve been popping my own non-GMO popcorn in a saucepan on the stove for a while now, and I’ve been thinking about getting an air popper. So here’s a question– air popper or stovetop? That stainless steel one looks pretty awesome!


    23 KitchenKop August 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I don’t like air poppers because then I can’t get more of the beneficial and tasty fats like coconut oil into the popcorn!



    24 Domini August 1, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Good point! I use olive oil but I’m definitely going to try coconut oil now. Thanks! This post was so helpful — popcorn is often a dinner supplement around these parts.


    25 sasha August 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    just wondering if anyone has had any success soaking the popcorn overnight like you would with grains/nuts etc. i tried it but despite being completely dry before attempting to pop (in coconut oil) very few of the kernels ended up popping and the ones that did barely did. however, because of the overnight soak the unpopped kernels themselves are softer and more edible, basically it tastes like a healthier equivalent to corn nuts.
    just wondering if anyone else had any more success? popcorn is one of my favorite snacks and i want to be able to eat it without worrying about anti nutrients!


    26 JenZ October 29, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Popcorn requires a certain amount of moisture to be able to pop. I suspect that the soaking introduced too much extra moisture which upset that delicate moisture balance. There is probably some way to get the kernels dried back to the proper moisture, but I don’t know how you’d figure out when it reached that point.


    27 Beverly Smith January 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    How do I soak popcorn before cooking ? I found it interesting concerning the digestive aspect of things. My husband loves popcorn, eats too much and the has issues. Finally have things under control with the use of probiotics, and getting his ph under control, as he was super acidic, but he loves popcorn. Any information you can send would be so helpful. What to soak it in, how long , etc. Thank you so much.


    28 KitchenKop January 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Beverly,

    I’ve never heard of anyone soaking popcorn before cooking and don’t know of a way to do it. Sorry!



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