Microwave popcorn is the go-to snack for people who want to avoid unhealthy snacks. However, some brands use harmful additives such as artificial flavorings and colors, salt, and saturated fats that make the popcorn a less healthy choice than you think.
The healthiest microwave popcorn brands are Skinny Pop and Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop. Both snacks are low-calorie options that contain only popcorn, oil, and salt without GMOs and trans fats. 365 Organic Microwave Popcorn is also a low-calorie organic option free from artificial colors, and flavors.
When prepared right, popcorn is a whole-grain food that can be very healthy. This article outlines seven of the healthiest popcorn brands, so you know what to buy the next time you shop for healthy snacks.
Is Popcorn a Healthy Snack?
Popcorn is a healthy snack because it is a whole grain containing more fiber than many other popular snack foods. It is also high in antioxidants, which can help prevent cell damage and reduce risk of certain diseases.
Fiber content is vital for proper digestion, maintaining a healthy weight, and preventing constipation and other digestive problems.
What To Look For When Choosing Microwave Popcorn
The healthiest microwave popcorn are the ones with the fewest ingredients. Look for ones that contain only popcorn, oil, salt, and natural flavoring.
Avoid popcorn with partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats). These unhealthy fats can raise your “bad” cholesterol and lower your “good” cholesterol.
Some brands use diacetyl to give microwave popcorn a buttery flavor and aroma. The addition of this flavoring is known to cause lung complications such as shortness of breath.
Some brands add sugar to their microwave popcorn. Unless you’re looking for a sweet treat, avoid these brands. Sugar adds calories with no nutritional benefits.
What Are the Healthiest Microwave Popcorn Brands?
Now that you know what differentiates “good” popcorn from “bad” popcorn; here are seven popcorn brands that provide healthy snacking:
Skinny Pop, the most popular brand of microwave popcorn, is also one of the healthiest. Each bag of Simply Pop popcorn contains 100 calories (418 kJ).
Skinny Pop has no GMOs and zero trans fat. The label doesn’t trick consumers into thinking it’s something it’s not. It’s a healthier version of an already healthy snack — popcorn — that’s whole grain, high in fiber, low in calories, and saturated fat.
Skinny Pop has a variety of flavors, including:
- White cheddar
- Sea salt & pepper
- Real butter
Skinny Pop Popcorn only contains three ingredients: “popcorn, sunflower oil, and salt,” and it’s organic!
Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop
Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop popcorn contains the following ingredients:
- Whole grain: The popcorn is made from kernels rich in whole grains.
- Vegetable oil: A healthy oil for your heart as it is rich in unsaturated fats and antioxidants.
- Salt and real butter: These enhance the taste of the popcorn.
Orville’s popcorn contains 120 calories (502 kJ) per six-cup serving (38 grams unpopped).
Act II Butter Lovers
With Act II Butter Lovers, you don’t have to worry about calories and fat grams.
Act II Butter has a 94% fat-free butter option as part of their “Better for You” range suitable for those on a calorie watch. On average, each Act II Butter Lovers popcorn bag contains 140 calories (586 kJ).
It comes in the original butter and light butter flavors. Both are low in fat and calories, but the light flavor has just 20 calories (84 kJ) per cup of popped popcorn.
Pop Secret Homestyle Microwave Popcorn
Pop Secret Homestyle microwave popcorn is a satisfyingly salty, savory snack. It contains ingredients that are good for health:
- Palm oil
- Natural flavor
A single bag of Pop Secret popcorn contains 130 calories (544 kJ).
365 Organic Microwave Popcorn (Kettle Corn)
The 365 Organic Microwave popcorn is 100% organic. It’s made from non-GMO popcorn. The product contains no hydrogenated oil, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Other ingredients of the product are:
- Organic sugar
- Organic sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Organic soy emulsifier
365 Organic Popcorn contains 100 calories (418 kJ) per 1 ¼ cup.
Simply Nature Microwave Popcorn
Simply Nature uses organic coconut oil, which contains healthy fats called medium-chain triglycerides that boost metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.
All Simply Nature products are free from 125 ingredients which the company lists in their “Never Any!” program.
- Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols
- High fructose corn syrup
- Mono- and diglycerides
- Polysorbate 80
- Food dyes/artificial coloring
- Synthetic flavoring (including MSG)
- Antibiotics and growth hormones
The ingredients included in Simply Nature popcorns are:
- Organic popcorn
- Organic sunflower oil
Every bag of Simply Nature popcorn contains 130 calories (544 kJ).
Boom Chicka Pop Real Butter Microwave Popcorn
Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop’s popcorn is gluten-free and non-GMO, which means it won’t wreak havoc on your digestive system or your diet. This microwave popcorn is also free of trans fat, preservatives, and artificial flavors or colors.
Each bag of Boom Chicka Pop Real Butter Microwave Popcorn contains only 100 calories (418 kJ) per serving, so it makes for a guilt-free snack when you’re trying to lose weight.
The ingredients include:
- Whole grain popcorn
- Pressed Palm Oil
Ultimately, microwaving popcorn is still a more convenient choice than traditional popping. The most significant health risk of microwave popcorn is the oil used in some varieties, also responsible for the delicious taste.
So if you’re concerned about your health (and looking to cut some calories), choose the lower-fat popcorn varieties.
Look for a brand with minimal, natural ingredients while providing the maximum flavor that matches your dietary needs. If you don’t like any of the brands out there, try making a batch of your own.
And if you’re concerned with flavor, you can forego a bit of healthiness for a better tasting experience.