Popcorn has been a staple snack for a long time, and it’s easy to see why! It only has a few main ingredients, can be cooked in a variety of ways, and it’s delicious and filling! There are even some health benefits to be gained from it, but how does it rate calorie-wise?
A microwaved bag of popcorn has about 535 calories. A large bucket of popcorn from the movies could contain up to 1200 calories. If you look at the number of calories per cup you will find that it is relatively low (only 31 calories). Butter, salt, and sugar in excess change the calorie count.
Most health professionals agree that popcorn in moderation can be a healthy snack. It is low in calories and has a variety of other nutritional benefits. Let’s take a deeper look into what really comes in that bag of popcorn and what seasonings and toppings will add and detract from its overall nutritional value.
How Many Calories in A Bag of Microwave Popcorn?
As you stroll through the shelf of the grocery store, you will come across many different brands and types of popcorn to choose from. There are brands like Kirkland, Orville, Act II, Jolly Time, Pop Secret, and many many others.
Each of these companies will obviously have different varieties in their popcorn like the basic butter popcorn, kettle popcorn.
There are also brands that advertise a more healthy variety. of popcorn. This could include popcorn with low salt, air pop, low fat, enhanced nutrients, etc. Each of these will also mean a different calorie count due to a slight variation in ingredients.
When it really comes down to it though, the best types of popcorn for your health will be the ones with the shortest ingredient lists. They really are quite long anyway, but the less that is added, the fewer calories there will be.
It will also depend on the oil or butter that is used as well. For example, a microwave popcorn claiming to be low fat will have only about 424 calories per bag.
A microwave bag of popcorn that is made with another type of oil that is more detrimental to your health (known as trans fat) will have about 557 calories in just one bag. Your regular bag of buttered popcorn though will normally have about 535 calories per bag.
Is Smartfood popcorn healthy? Read the article here
If you just stick to smaller amounts of popcorn, like 1 or 2 cups, it really shouldn’t be too much of a problem for you to stay well within your calorie count. Check out the nutritional panel for all the types you may buy in the future.
In relation to the value of popcorn, people used to think that microwave popcorn contained a chemical that was likely to cause cancer. It was the chemical that was added to prevent the grease and oil from leaking through the packaging, making it impossible to keep for long periods of time.
The popcorn companies have since changed their packaging and have not used this chemical since 2013 when the FDA banned it. This means that the thing that once scared many people about microwave popcorn is no longer a threat. It can be enjoyed without the fear of bad chemicals or harmful add-ins.
How Many Calories in a Bag of Ready-to-Eat Popcorn?
Bagged Popcorn follows many of the same principles. Brands of bagged popcorn include Skinny Pop, Smart Food, Trader Joe, Boom Chika Pop, and many others. Each of these has varieties like buttered, white cheddar, or even exotic flavors like birthday cake.
For example, the original skinny pop popcorn has about 150 calories per serving, and there are about 4.4 servings in a bag, meaning that a whole bag of this popcorn would be about 660 calories. Surprisingly, that is even a little more than some of the microwaved popcorn brands we talked about above.
While there may not be much difference for some of the bagged versus the microwaved popcorns, we see in the chart below that each of these popcorns vary in serving size and in calories, making it hard to see exactly what the calorie count is for each one.
Another thing to consider is how the bagged popcorn is cooked. Many can be popped with heat and oil, adding extra calories because of the butter and oil used in the process, while some may be air-popped, meaning they are just using heated air to cause the popcorn to pop with no need for excess oils.
These are normally more healthy and result in fewer calories being consumed.
|Bagged or Microwaved||Brand||Calories per Serving||Servings per bag||Calories per bag|
|Microwave||Kirkland||190 calories per serving||2.5 servings a bag||475 total calories|
|Microwave||Orville||160 calories per serving||2.5 servings a bag||400 total calories|
|Microwave||Act II||140 calories per serving||2.5 servings a bag||350 total calories|
|Microwave||Jolly Time||110 calories per serving||2.5 servings a bag||275 total calories|
|Microwave||Pop-Secret||120 calories per serving||1 serving per bag||120 total calories|
|Bagged||Skinny Pop||150 calories per serving||4.4 servings per bag||660 total calories|
|Bagged||Smart Food||160 calories per serving||17 servings per bag||2,720 total calories|
|Bagged||Trader Joe’s||160 calories per serving||5 servings per bag||800 total calories|
|Bagged||Boom Chicka Pop||140 calories per serving||14 servings per bag||1,960 total calories|
What is the Nutritional Value of Popcorn?
Whether you are watching you’re weight closely or just trying to change a few bad habits, popcorn can be a fun and exciting snack to enjoy while still sticking to your diet. Nothing beats the feeling of walking into the movie theater or having that homemade popcorn your dad always cooked for you.
Even though you might think of popcorn as a salty, oily treat, it can actually provide some health benefits. Popcorn has a few things inside it that might surprise everyone!
As we already know, popcorn is incredibly low in calories. Popcorn, for an entire 100-gram bag, only has about 535 calories. This. is a very low count when you compare it to other snacks like chips, pretzels, or other candies. A small 8-ounce bag of chips contains 1,217 calories, and we all know that the bags are normally only half full anyway.
Red vines have about 100 calories for every 4 twists, meaning if you eat 16 strands of licorice you are up to about 400 calories alone. For only having 31 calories per cup, popcorn is fairly low in calories and won’t totally wreck your diet, if that is what you are tracking.
Popcorn also contains quite a bit of fiber. Fiber plays the main role in ensuring that your digestive health is on track. Fiber is a carbohydrate that helps to add weight and substance to your stool, making sure that your body has enough room to continue to digest food.
Fiber also helps you to feel full and regulate the blood sugars within your body. Each person needs a daily intake of about 15 to 20 grams of fiber every day. Failing to get your daily needed fiber intake is a fairly common problem, and it can result in digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea, depending on the kind of fiber you’re missing.
An entire bag of popcorn contains about 9.5 to 14.5 grams of fiber, putting you one step close to being able to reach that fiber count that you need to ensure your body is working properly. That is equivalent to the fiber of a large banana or a red apple. That is one of the few things that popcorn does contain, simply because if it is a whole grain.
Have you ever heard of hulless popcorn? It’s true! Read the article here
Yes, you heard that right; popcorn is a whole grain! Whole grains are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other heart problems. Whole grains also often have high amounts of fiber as we talked about and they are generally pretty helpful to a person’s diet.
Popcorn also contains a low glycemic index (GI), which means that it can help stabilize your blood sugar. It also has antioxidants, which help to protect your cells. Just to add a few more great things about popcorn to your ever-growing list, here are a few more nutrients in popcorn that are needed in your body:
- Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamen B6
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
When we really get into the details, we can see that popcorn contains quite a few really great vitamins and minerals that we want for our bodies each day. Popcorn, though not on its own and not all at once, can make for a healthy choice when you’re looking for a snack.
It may even help down the road with your heart health or other similar diseases. So grab a bowl and start chowing down on all those vitamins and minerals!
What Types of Fats are in Popcorn?
A major helper in making popcorn either healthy or unhealthy is fat! Fat obviously comes with the added presence of butter. The more butter you add to the popcorn, the more fat you will have, which raises the calorie count.
There are a variety of fats out there that you may or may not have heard of. There are monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and then saturated fats. Hydrogenated oils and practically hydrogenated oils contain plenty of harmful trans fat.
How Many Calories are in the Toppings for Popcorn?
If you plan on adding a few things on top of the plain popcorn, there will surely be some extra calories and fat. A couple of examples of this in reference to a single serving which is about 2 tablespoons of kernels and 4 to 5 cups of popped popcorn.
Popcorn that is popped in oil will have about 164 calories and 9 grams of fat for 3 cups. If you then add butter as well, you are adding 100 calories, 11 more grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 90 milligrams of sodium.
Say you were also then to add grated parmesan on top. Then you would be adding another 20 calories, 2 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 46 milligrams of sodium.
While we have looked into these toppings and their calorie count there are so many more mixtures that people go to to make popcorn taste the way they like it. You can also add lots of butter and salt, which will take up both the fat and calorie count.
Or you can add some sugar to make it taste more like kettle corn. You could also even add spices and seasonings like ranch seasoning or seasoning salt. Each of these will affect the nutritional value of the popcorn and it is up to you to see how much you want to allow that.
If your priority is to make popcorn as low in calories as possible, then the best way to eat popcorn is air-popped, plain with no slat and no butter and no seasonings. This way you are getting the basic grain without the excess stuff! Adding a small amount of butter and salt will still allow it to qualify as a healthy snack.
As we can see, there are a variety of really great health benefits that come with popcorn. They have a fairly low-calorie count, are high in fiber, and contain other important additions to the body.
They come bagged or microwaveable and are easily accessible for anyone to grab and munch on. Depending on what type of popcorn you get, or what extra ingredients are added, the calorie count will rise and fall.
In the end, popcorn is a great healthy snack that you can add to any part of your day. It has been known to aid in weight loss and can help with the health of many aspects of future health and wellness!
Walk down the grocery store aisle with the confidence that popcorn can be one of the many things you buy on your way to being more healthy and more conscious of what is going into your body!