Oh so convenient, microwave popcorn is a favorite late-night movie night snack right? The problem is, it’s usually comes drenched in “butter flavoring” and salt. But here’s what you may not know: that intoxicating, artificial butter scent that fills your home each time you microwave popcorn actually poses a health risk for you and your family.
There’s no denying that microwave popcorn smells darn good coming out of the microwave, but that’s where it all goes up in flames — so to speak. It turns out that tantalizing aroma is actually a chemical called diacetyl, a synthetic butter flavoring. And according to research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inhaling butter flavoring is very volatile when evaporating into the air from liquid or solid form.
Not only is this chemical highly irritating to the eyes, respiratory tract and skin, but apparently, microwave popcorn production plant workers develop severe lung disease because of routinely handling open vessels containing those nasty chemical ingredients. People who work as mixers and who are exposed to the synthetic butter flavoring have chest symptoms including shortness of breath and poorer lung function than people who have never worked as mixers.
Microwave popcorn and Alzheimer’s
And if that’s not bad enough, a recent study published at the University of Minnesota in the Chemical Research in Toxicology Journal revealed that regularly eating popcorn laced with diacetyl influences the buildup of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. That links diacetyl to Alzheimer’s.
And even more chemicals…
With microwave popcorn also comes chemicals like perfluoroalkyl, perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate. These are used to line the popcorn bags to prevent grease from soaking into the bag. Microwaving chemicals fuse into the popcorn and pose a host of health nightmares. They wreak havoc up your endocrine system, cause thyroid issues, bladder cancer and much more. The greatest amount of chemicals are emitted when the bag is opened post-popping — more than 80 percent of the total chemical emissions occur at this time suggests research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Don’t give up popcorn just yet
Between the chemicals and trans-fats, that bag of microwave popcorn has now become a snacking nightmare. But your love affair with popcorn doesn’t need to end here. Instead, of chemically-laden microwave popcorn, pull out a large pot and pop your own — sans microwave — the old-fashioned way. In addition, change up the flavor to add a modern twist on this old-time favorite snack.
— Katherine Marko