Episode #3: Why you Need to Ditch Microwave Popcorn and Switch to Stovetop

Jul 03, 2023

I love popcorn! It’s such a delicious nutrient rich snack. When my kids and I are craving something substantial with crunch, popcorn is the perfect healthy go-to! We love to season it up- sweet or savory- and enjoy this special treat together. It's way healthier than potato chips or other highly processed snacks and there’s just something about popcorn that makes all of us happy. 

This whole grain boasts some serious health benefits from being rich in fiber and antioxidants to lowering the risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. And because it’s loaded with fiber and low in calories, it helps promote satiety which helps you reach and maintain your weight goals! 

But not all popcorn is created equal and here’s why you need to absolutely ditch microwave popcorn now and start popping your own kernels on the stovetop. 

Stovetop popcorn is delicious, cheap, ready in minutes, gives you control over the amount of oil used, lets you get creative with seasoning AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, it’s free of chemicals. 

If you’re wondering why there’s a concern for chemicals when it comes to microwave popcorn, it all boils down to the popcorn bag itself. Many of these microwave popcorn bags are lined with PFAS (perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyl substances) (aka forever chemicals) and evidence has shown that these chemicals will leach into the popcorn during popping. These compounds break down very slowly (hence the name forever chemicals), accumulating both in the environment and within the human body. Studies have found that high levels of these compounds are found in the blood of individuals who ate microwave popcorn regularly, so it does reach the bloodstream.

PFAS chemicals originally were developed in the 1950s as part of the toxic nonstick coating of Teflon pans. You can also find them in many consumer products such as cleaning solutions, waterproof makeup, firefighting foam and stain-resistant carpet and upholstery coatings.

While these chemicals are typically found in drinking water all over the US, food is also a major area of concern when it comes to exposure. Research has shown that consuming microwave popcorn and fast food is correlated with higher PFAS levels in the body. Why on earth are PFAS added to the popcorn bag lining? It’s to keep the oil from soaking out of the bag and to help prevent the bag from burning. Do you know those times when you may have left the popcorn bag in the microwave longer than you should have and you got these little black kernels? Well, the heat that creates those burnt kernels could also lead to a fire, hence the addition of PFAS. 

2019 study found that significantly higher blood levels of PFAS were found in those who consistently ate microwave popcorn. This was based on a decade of data looking at dietary habits of over 10,500 people gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PFAS levels were found to be up to 63% higher than average in regular microwave popcorn eater. 

Why should we care about PFAS? According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, high levels have been linked to higher risk of kidney or testicular cancer, endocrine disruption, immune system suppression potentially reducing vaccine effectiveness, elevated cholesterol levels, small decreases in infant birth weights, changes in liver enzymes, preeclampsia in pregnant women. 

Is it possible to manufacture microwave popcorn bags free of PFAS? Absolutely! You need look no further than Denmark. Their largest grocer announced back in 2015 that they would no longer sell microwave popcorn due to pfas. In just months, new, more resilient bags were developed free of chemicals and microwave popcorn found its way back on the shelves.  

My advice? Ditch the microwave popcorn ASAP. This is a simple and effective way to reduce exposure to these toxic chemicals. Stovetop popcorn is so easy to make.

All you need is 1. a heavy-bottomed pot to distribute heat evenly 2. 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels 3. 2 tablespoons high quality olive oil and 4. seasoning of your choice.


Here's my foolproof method for making our favorite POPCORN TWO WAYS- when you can't quite decide if you have a sweet or a salty tooth that day :)

Heat your pot to medium/high. Once it is hot add olive oil, followed by popcorn kernels. Lift pot and rotate around so all kernels are coated with olive oil, place lid on and wait for kernels to pop. When you hear 2 seconds between pops it’s time to remove from heat. Be sure to use an oven mitt and remove the lid carefully to avoid steam exposure- this is hot and can burn.

Separate popcorn into two bowls.


In a small pot/pan, add the following ingredients over medium heat: 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Gently stir with a spoon until heated and the sauce becomes thin and easy to pour. Pour sauce over the popcorn in one bowl and give it a good shake or mix with your hands or spoon.


Drizzle some high-quality extra virgin olive oil over the popcorn in the other bowl and season with organic umami seasoning.


Both of these are delicious and full disclosure, my daughter started a trend of mixing the two and I am a fan :-D Hope you enjoy!!

For the full reel, head on over to my insta (@ensolifestylehealth) to see the popcorn-making process in action! Link:https://www.instagram.com/reel/CuPli4AA643/?igshid=MTIzZWMxMTBkOA==



Nutrition Information

3 cups of air-popped popcorn will give you:

  •  Calories: 93
  •  Protein: 3 grams
  •  Carbohydrates: 18.6 grams
  •  Fiber: 3.6 grams
  •  Sugar: 0.2 grams
  •   Fat: 1.1 grams