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popcorn Not all that healthy, Profeco warns.

Nuking popcorn? Consumer agency offers warnings

Apart from high levels of fat and sodium, there are other ingredients that can be harmful

With Covid-19 keeping many people cooped up at home, movie night might seem a safe activity to keep the family occupied, but you might want to be careful over what you snack on during the show.

The federal consumer protection agency Profeco published a study in the April issue of La Revista del Consumidor (Consumer Magazine) that takes a deep dive into what’s actually in those microwavable packages.

The investigation showed that excessive consumption of microwavable popcorn is harmful not only for the high levels of fats and sodium it contains, but also because of other ingredients that can have harmful effects on the human body.

One such ingredient is perfluorooctanoic acid, found in some types of popcorn packaging and Teflon-lined frying pans. When exposed to high temperatures and consumed, this chemical can cause thyroid cancer and infertility, Profeco warned.

Monosodium glutamate is added to the popcorn to enhance the flavor, but it’s also the likely cause of elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood, which can harden arteries and increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

Diacetyl is the artificial flavoring that gives microwavable popcorn an authentic buttery taste. But when heated and turned into vapor, it can cause lung damage and decrease lung capacity if inhaled, the agency said.

The study also found that most brands selling the product use palm oil, which harms not only the body with its high levels of saturated fats but the environment as well. Profeco says high demand for it has caused huge amounts of deforestation, primarily in the tropical rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Profeco concluded what most would assume: that microwavable popcorn offers more calories than nutrients and benefits, citing homemade stovetop popcorn as a healthier and cheaper alternative.

Popcorn corn is rich in vitamins B1, B3 and B6, as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and antioxidants.

While the average price of an 80-gram bag of microwavable popcorn is around 10.90 pesos (US $0.45), popcorn corn bought as grain at the market costs less than 2 pesos per 100 grams on average, the consumer protection agency said.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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