Side Effects of Eating Popcorn, Say Dietitians

A movie staple, popcorn is an easy snack that you can get pre-popped in a packaged bag, scooped up from a machine, or microwaved in the comfort of your own home. It’s perfect to munch on at any time of day, and you can easily eat it by the handful without even realizing it. They’re almost like chips…you can’t just have one!

This muscle memory action may not seem like a harmful move, but is there something to be said about overeating popcorn? The dietitians on our medical expert board give their input on the benefits of eating popcorn, as well as the negatives of it. For more on snacking, be sure to check out Snacking Habits That Can Jumpstart Weight Loss, Say Dietitians.


“Popcorn can be part of a healthy weight management program as it has fiber and protein (it is a whole grain) and can fill you up on fewer calories,” says Amy Shapiro MS, RD of Real Nutrition.

Eating popcorn provides a satisfying crunch, and is also considered a high-volume food. This means you can eat a large portion without consuming too many calories or added fat grams.

However, Shapiro notes that not all popcorn is created equal.  She prefers air popped popcorn.

“Believe it or not but 3 cups of air popped popcorn will provide you with 3.6 grams of fiber for under 100 calories,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “Considering most Americans do not get enough fiber in their eating routine, air popped popcorn might help!”

Goodson’s advice is to consider adding herbs and spices to flavor it instead of butter and salt. Shapiro also advises staying away from movie-style popcorn, but if you prefer it, consume it sparingly.

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