Microwaveable popcorn is a highly processed food and is high up on the list of the unhealthiest foods you could consume. Practically every component of microwaveable popcorn, from the genetically-modified (GM) corn kernels to the processed salt and preservative chemicals used to enhance its flavor, is unhealthy and disease-promoting. On top of this, microwaveable popcorn contains a chemical known as diacetyl that can actually destroy your lungs. You might be reassured to learn that the buttery flavor in microwave popcorn typically comes from a chemical actually found in butter, but you shouldn't be. This chemical, called Diacetyl, is so toxic that it commonly destroys the lungs of workers in microwave popcorn factories, afflicting them with the crippling and irreversible disease known as Bronchiolitis Obliterans. This disease is so rare outside of this context that it has become more commonly known as "popcorn lung," after the primary cause of the disease.
Regulators and health professionals have known of this risk for decades, but always assumed that it would only affect people breathing in especially high concentrations in factory settings. Then in 2007, a man who regularly ate two bags of microwave popcorn every day was diagnosed with popcorn lung, indicating that Diacetyl enters the air and lungs when microwave popcorn is cooked. Anxious to reassure consumers, most microwave popcorn companies phased out Diacetyl -- only to replace it with chemicals that have the same effects.
Today, you can still find Diacetyl in many flavored snack foods and even in some so-called "natural" foods. Make sure you read the ingredients of any food you intend to consume, and make sure it contains no Diacetyl (and no "yeast extract" for that matter, either).
If you love popcorn, stick with organic kernels that you can pop yourself in a kettle and douse with healthy ingredients like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and Himalayan pink salt.
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