Is popcorn cooked with a Hot Air Popper really the healthiest method?

I remember when the hot air poppers came out in the mid 1970’s. Mom fixed a bowl of popcorn several nights a week because it was considered almost zero calories. There was no oil, salt etc. She even ate it when dieting.

Microwave popcorn sort of took over the market. But hot air poppers are still sold.

How healthy is popcorn cooked in a hot air popper vs the standard microwave packs?

Is it really a extremely low calorie snack? Is it ok for people on diets?

For those that hven’t seen one…
Hot Air popcorn maker.

triva… before hot air poppers, we bought the popcorn in a foil pan that already had oil. Put on stove and shake until done. I think it was Jiffy??? Can’t recall for sure.

Forgot to mention, corn sweeteners (HFCS) have been in the press a lot lately. That got me to wondering if popcorn is really low calorie like they claimed years ago, when the hot air poppers hit the market in the 70’s.

I hoping there’s some facts to clear this up. So, GQ it is.

Well of course air popped popcorn is healthier, there’s no added oil. Popcorn works by boiling the water inside the kernel making it pop. I don’t have any here, but I know that on a bag of popcorn kernels it’ll give the nutritional information of just the popcorn.

The pan you’re talking about is Jiffy Pop. It’s still sold today, although it’s still just as shitty as ever. I don’t think I ever made a batch that didn’t burn some of the popcorn. I guess that’s so you don’t eat as much :stuck_out_tongue:

Don’t have to buy an air-popper. You can air-pop in your microwave; I put 2 handfuls of plain popping corn in a brown paper lunch bag, fold the top over 3 times, lay it flat and hit the Popcorn button. Same results as the pre-bagged stuff w/ a world of taste difference and a blank slate for you to season as you like. Costs pennies compared to the pre-bagged as well.
You can re-pop the few that didn’t pop the first time.

I found this information. Change the drop down quantity to 3 cups. A very filling serving. :wink:

93 calories, that’s why mom ate it on diets. Fills your stomach for hours.

Seems to darn good to be true. What about the 18.7g of Carbs? There’s got to be a catch. We always get punished for snacks. remember HFCS comes from corn.

It isn’t zero calories. But due to the fact that it is very bulky, it takes a while to eat, giving you the psychological feeling of having a lot to snack on, per calorie consumed. Dry Popcorn cooked via hot-air method, is about 31 calories a cup. A bowlful, maybe 4 cups, is going to be around 120 calories.

As for diets, it depends on the diet. It’s a terrible choice for low-carb diets, a fairly good choice for low-fat or volumetric diets.

If this is the case, why does commercial microwave popcorn contain oil?

Well, read the labels. Popcorn by itself is high-fiber, low fat, and low calorie. What usually makes the difference is what you put on it. There’s usually some oil content in microwaved popcorn, so it would seem logical that microwaved popcorn has a bit more fat and calories than hot-air-popped popcorn.

I’ve read that air popping produces more volume (the popped kernels end up larger) which may allow you to feel full sooner, but they have the exact same caloric value as microwaved popcorn. The packaged microwave bags have slightly more calories (the ones that are 94% fat free) but the difference is minimal. I still have an air popper somewhere but I just use the microwave these days for convenience.

Unbuttered popcorn is a great low calorie high volume food.

Maybe to make the kernels hotter faster so they’re more likely to pop and have less waste? That’s my WAG, I have no clue. Don’t kernels pop from expansion of the moisture within, given enough heat and time?

The carbs aren’t that important unless you’re on a low-carb diet since they’re mostly starch, with very little sugar. A three-cup serving of popcorn also has three grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber, so it’s not a waste of time and calories like other snacks. And it does keep you feel full and satisfies the hand-to-mouth snacking thing.

It’s not the corn that’s the problem. It’s the fact that high fructose corn syrup is processed and purified and as a result is made up almost entirely of simple sugars that are easily metabolized. Corn itself has a lot of other things in it. When it comes down to it, from a chemical standpoint, high fructose corn syrup isn’t any worse for you than other sugars. It’s the fact that foods high in corn syrup give you so much of it at once in a very pure form.

This bit, right here, is almost meaningless. There are other sources for the High fructose corn syrup holy war(ETA: Like acsenray: above). But HCFS is made by splitting corn starch into maltose, then spitting the maltose into a glucose/fructose rich syrup, then converting much of the glucose into the fructose isomer, for use as a cheap sweetener. You might as well say beef is part of the HCFS conspiracy, because it’s fattened on corn.

For the same reason it has salt: flavor.
The only difference between what Nawth Chucka describes and how I do it is that I staple the bag with a couple of staples. Yup, metal staples. They’re just fine in the microwave. And sometimes I’ll put melted butter on the finished product. I know, I’m reintroducing fat, but it’s damned tasty fat at least!

I hadn’t thought of fastening it past the tight folding I already do, but we have some plastic paper clips around here somewhere. Then again, not broke, don’t fix and all that.
I add a smattering of kosher salt to mine. Hubby Tripler adds hickory seasoning.

For the few reasons people have posted. It heats the popcorn faster, it adds taste, and it helps salt and flavoring adhere to the popcorn.
The jury may still be out on HFCS. However, some of the evidence is rather damning. If you want sugar, why not stick to cane sugar or (American or Australian) honey (and avoid all honey from Asia).

Yeah that’s the Alton Brown method.

No one has mentioned my method yet…

Use a hot air popper. After done, spray the popcorn with Pam, then salt. Pam has almost no calories, and it makes the salt stick to the kernels just like oil does.

(More detail: I usually end up using 6 - 8 sprays of Pam of about 1 second each. Spray the popcorn in the bowl. Shake the bowl for 5 - 10 seconds at a small angle to rearrange the kernels. Repeat.)


Why is that?

Oh… and adding another comment on the “is even plain popcorn healthy” front: Think of it as another whole grain, which is, after all, exactly what it is! Like whole wheat berries vs a slice of white bread. Both are “wheat” but the white bread has the good stuff removed so all you’re getting is the not-so-good.