Is popcorn a healthy snack? Some doctors disagree

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - Crunchy, salty, sweet, savory, cheesy and chocolate-covered - popcorn can do it all.

As a 100 percent whole-grain snack that is often coated in a hefty serving of hot butter, there's plenty of confusion on whether or not it's actually a nutritious choice.

Kelsey-Seybold Dr. Shane Magee warns, "You got to be careful with popcorn because there's a lot of butter on these popcorns, a lot of salt on these popcorns."

On average, the snack is slightly over 100 calories with 20 grams of carbohydrates and a good serving of fiber, so it is the ideal snack by itself.

However, adding oil, butter, cheese, salt, caramel or chocolate adds sugar and saturated fat, so the lighter you go, the better benefits you get.

Sticking to single-serve bags will help you keep good portion control.

Yet dentists disagree that it’s a good snack. Texas Tooth Lady, Dr. Terri Alani, views popcorn as the equivalent to jawbreaker candies.

“You're eating this popcorn and all of a sudden in between you get this popcorn kernel,” she said. “We totally disapprove of that."

She said you risk cracking a tooth on the kernels.

If you're willing to risk it, Good Housekeeping recommends these healthy ways to enjoy the snack:

•    Swap it for croutons in salad or as soup toppings.
•    Flavor with seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder/flakes, cracked pepper, or sea salt. Our favorite: Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning.
•    Make a sweet-salty DIY trail mix: Combine air-popped popcorn, unsweetened dried cherries, chopped walnuts, and a few dark chocolate chunks. Place in a resealable plastic bag and toss it in your purse.

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