Recent reports claim that some brands of popcorn are containing high levels of an ingredient called “glycerine”, which is made from hydrogen and methane gas (both of which come from food sources). Some people believe this glycerine is not properly labeled as being sugar because it does not fit into our definition of what sugar is.
Many theories abound about why using this allegedly non-sugar substance is harmful to your health. Many say it can contribute to obesity due to its possible effect on how much you eat. Others allege it has negative impacts on blood cholesterol or diabetes risk.
It seems like every few months there is new research claiming something about popcorn is bad for you. But is any one theory completely proved? Probably not. For this reason, we cannot make firm conclusions about whether or not eating popcorn is healthy.
What we CAN tell you with certainty is that by choosing a lower fat variety, looking for no butter or coconut oil, and avoiding sweet toppings, then yes, probably popcorn is healthier than ifit had chocolate syrup, cinnamon, and cheese.
Definition of GMO
The term genetically modified (or GM) comes from the word genetics, which is the study of heredity in plants and animals. Genes are chemical patterns that influence how an organism develops and works. Genetic engineering is changing this pattern by adding new genes or deleting existing ones to create a newer version of the gene.
This can be done naturally through natural selection, but most people agree it is too wasteful a process for practical use. With genetic technology, you can pick and choose what changes you want to make to some part of the genome.
The first experiment with altering plant DNA was performed in 1990, when scientists took tomato leaves and altered the structure of some proteins so they would stick around longer. These extended tomatoes were called “supertatoes” because of their higher acid content.
Since then, there have been many other experiments using different crops and products. Some successful examples include making meat more nutritious or food safer to eat, such as creating milk from soy or wheat plants.
Popular GMO crops
Some people may be surprised to learn that there are several popular food items containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They include sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and corn!
Carrots and sweet potatoes have high amounts of beta carotene which we need to thrive and grow healthy. Therefore, manufacturers usually process these vegetables up with a chemical compound called lycopene to increase this nutrient in the vegetable.
Lycopene is a natural antioxidant that helps protect our bodies from inflammation and oxidative stress, two important factors in disease development. However, it can’t be processed into anything else so it goes away when you cook carrots or eat the skin of the potato.
You may have heard stories about how eating too much carrot or tomato powder can help reduce sun exposure and prevent wrinkles, but studies show that aside from being expensive, it isn’t effective at all.
Are GMO crops healthier?
Many people complain about popcorn being made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a glucose-based sweetener that is often criticized due to its rising price. Some believe HFCS to be just as harmful, if not more so than sugar which can lead to health issues like obesity.
Many people also criticize HFCS for linking with nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B6 and zinc. These nutritional deficiencies are linked to symptoms similar to what you would find in celiac disease, an autoimmune condition where your body reacts negatively towards gluten.
Zinc is important for healthy skin, immune function, and growth. Vitamin B6 helps regulate blood sugar levels and aids in sleep quality. Both of these are crucial for wellness!
GMOs contain genetically modified organisms so they are usually screened for heavy metals and toxins before processing. GMOs do not necessarily need to be labeled, but it does raise questions about whether or not they are safer for us.
Do they taste the same?
While some claim that genetically modified (GM) popcorn is less nutritious than non-GMO variety, this isn’t necessarily true. Both types of popcorn contain around three to four hundred kilojoules per one cup serving which are about the same amount of energy.
Akuaiyalamma Raoof, Senior Nutritionist at The Healthiest Way To Shop says “There is no significant difference in nutritional value whether it’s GM or not”. She goes onto say that “the slight difference in flavor may be due to the type of salt used for baking”.
She also notes that there are different ways to make popcorn so “different brands use different processes and ingredients”.
Are they more affordable?
Recent reports suggest that some brands of popcorn are starting to add high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or other sweeteners to the popped kernels. This is concerning because HFCS has been linked to health issues like obesity.
Many people believe that adding sugar during processing makes foods healthier, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, it can even be harmful in certain situations. For example, studies show that eating too much sugar raises your blood glucose levels which could cause diabetes!
Because of this, we should try to limit our intake of added sugars. Luckily for you, there are ways to make delicious poppable snacks without using any sugar or fat! Here are my top tips!
1. Natural butter
Butter is an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium. It also gives baked goods a nice flavor and texture. Try making your own by mixing olive oil and natural butter at baking temperature.
2. Oils and flours that are naturally low in calories
Try replacing half of the butter with one of these oils in your favorite movie theater snack. You will have the same amount of flavor and better health benefits!
3. Nut milk alternatives
Making your own nut milk is a great way to enjoy all those healthy fats. You can either use pre-made ones or do it yourself! Check out my article here for instructions on how to make your own.
Are they more sustainable?
As mentioned before, corn is used in almost every aspect of our daily lives- from food additives to fuel production. Due to its widespread use, there are many different types of processed corn products that contain GMOs.
One type of processed corn product people often question is whether or not popcorn is genetically modified. It is important to note that while some brands may add HMTs (harmful chemicals) to enhance the flavor or texture of their snacks, this does not mean that it is necessarily considered “GMO” material.
Harmless flavoring agents such as cinnamon, salt, and butter can be added to any kind of snack bar so consumers should be aware of which ones have additives. Luckily, like with most foods, we have several options these days!
Sustainable sweeteners such as Stevia and erythritol are much healthier alternatives to sugar because they do not promote tooth decay or obesity. They also cost around one tenth of the price of white sugars!
So what is the verdict? Is movie night totally out due to the potential risk of eating something containing GMOs? No, it is definitely not!
Converting your favorite junk foods into healthy versions can really make a difference in how well you feel.
Making small changes to start will help you determine if those snacks are necessary for your health.
Is it safe?
Recent reports claim that some of the additives in movie theater popcorn are genetically modified. This has many people concerned about whether or not this is healthy for us.
Many major food brands have replaced their traditional corn starch with processed potato starch as an ingredient. Both of these products are often referred to as “colorants” because they add color and texture to the finished product.
However, studies show that potatoes can contain high levels of a natural compound called acrylamide. Acrylamide comes from cooking foods like fries or baking cookies or breads made with wheat flour.
Some research even suggests that eating too much cooked white rice may increase your risk of getting cancer due to acrylamide.
This could be similar with how some experts believe that drinking milk may contribute to cancer development. Because milk contains additional carbohydrates, it may also promote the production of acrylamide while boiling or toasting grains.
While there are currently no federal regulations requiring manufacturers to disclose what types of ingredients contain acrylamine, most companies do list their product on their website or use online databases to confirm that for safety purposes.
Do they exist?
The term “GMO” usually means good or healthy, but not for popcorn. Companies that manufacture this butter-based food use a process called hydrogenation to make it taste better and longer lasting.
Hydrogenation is when molecules of fat are attached to another molecule instead of floating freely. This is similar to adding chemicals to water to make it more dense. For example, if you put in enough chemicals, then eventually there will be so many chemicals in the water that it no longer looks like water!
This isn’t quite true with respect to foods, however. While some hydrogen atoms are inserted into the fats, other atoms are rerouted towards creating an extended shelf life for the product. It becomes less sensitive to air and moisture, which can cause it to go bad.
There is one major difference between these two types of hydrogenation though. An ingredient used for the first type is just pure oil, while the second type requires a small amount of metallic catalyst to help complete the reaction.
The catalyst is what makes the difference because even a very small quantity can create allergenic reactions in certain people. In fact, studies show that someone may have an allergy to their own body chemistry after eating a few handfuls of GMP-popped corn!