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Do you know what's in your popcorn?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 by: Anita Khalek
Tags: popcorn, butter flavoring, chemicals

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(NaturalNews) It's hard to imagine how a product largely comprised of corn can be so detrimental to health. Corn, in its organic state, is a high fiber grain and a good source of folic acid, vitamin C, and niacin (vitamin B3). And freshly made popcorn from organic corn kernels has been popular for many generations as a delicious, natural, healthy snack. However, the commercial microwavable version is fundamentally different, neither natural nor healthy, as it comes with a cocktail of toxins implicated in several health issues including Alzheimer's, respiratory and lung disease, and chronic kidney disease to name a few.

The convenience, ease of preparation and intoxicating aroma are three reasons to make microwave popcorn, but here are three great reasons why you should not:

Butter flavoring in microwave popcorn causes disease

Diacetyl (DA) is a chemical used in microwavable popcorn that gives the product its distinctive flavor and aroma. A study published August 1, 2012 in the ACS journal of Chemical Research in Toxicology indicates that DA increased the level of clumping of beta-amyloid protein in the brain. This clumping is a hallmark indicator of Alzheimer's. DA also damages nerve cells, as this study warned of severe neurological toxicity in cases of overexposure to this chemical. Even products claiming to avoid DA are using similar artificial butter flavorings that unfortunately are other forms of diacetyl.

Non-stick lining of bags is a liver and immune system toxicant

PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) is a synthetic chemical applied to the lining of microwave popcorn bags where its application prevents interaction with liquids or fats, creating the non-stick surface on the lining of the bags. It is a known carcinogen and toxicant for animals and humans, and remains in the environment indefinitely. Elevated cholesterol, chronic kidney issues, and respiratory problems like asthma and lung disease are some of the health issues associated with PFOA. For microwave popcorn users, studies indicate that 20 percent of the PFOA in their blood comes from the popcorn consumed. Once popped, 80 percent of the toxic fumes from PFOA and DA are emitted at the time of opening the bag, then levels taper off although always present after opening. Over 98 percent of the population in the US has detectable levels of PFOA in the blood. This percentage is much higher for those communities in close proximity to the Dupont plants making the PFOA. After a class action lawsuit, Dupont agreed to phase out all production of PFOA by the year 2015.

Hydrogenated oils in the popcorn cause inflammation

The majority of microwave popcorn is dowsed with some form of altered oil, typically soybean oil or coconut oil turning them into trans-fats which clog the arteries causing heart disease and inflammation in the body. FDA labeling regulations allow manufacturers to round down to zero any trans-fat value under 0.5g per "serving," so even packaging that may clearly state "no trans fats" may still have up to half a gram per serving.

What's the alternative?

The natural alternative to microwavable popcorn, of course, is homemade popcorn, which is surprisingly easy to prepare without the dangers of its packaged counterpart. One such recipe is as follows:

- Warm one to two tablespoon of grapeseed oil or butter in a large pot over medium heat
- Add 1/2 cup of organic corn kernels.
- Toss around in the oil and cover.
- Corn will begin popping in under a minute. Once the popping sound stops, it's done. Sprinkle with sea salt and/or any other natural flavoring, such as freshly cracked pepper, nutritional yeast, dulse or a spice mix.

Sources for this article include:


About the author:
Anita is a researcher, a writer and a passionate believer in the healing power of food. Using her culinary skills and amateur photography, she regularly creates new recipes and shares her techniques on her food blog at www.myfreshlevant.com.
Questions and suggestions can be directed to anita@myfreshlevant.com

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