Popcorn Nutrition Facts

Popcorn Calories and Health Benefits

popcorn nutrition facts
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Are you a popcorn lover? If so, then you'll be pleased to know that popcorn can be a healthy food. Popcorn calories are low, and you'll get a healthy dose of fiber when you dig your hands into a bowl of the crunchy snack. But dieters, beware. Calories in popcorn can vary by brand. And if you make it at home, the toppings you choose to add will change popcorn nutrition significantly and may turn it into a treat you want to avoid.

Popcorn Calories and Nutrition

Air-Popped Popcorn Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 3 cups (24 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 93 
Calories from Fat 10 
Total Fat 1.1g2%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0.3g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 2mg0%
Potassium 78.96mg2%
Carbohydrates 18.7g6%
Dietary Fiber 3.5g14%
Sugars 0.2g 
Protein 3.1g 
Vitamin A 1% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 4%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Popcorn can be a perfect snack for dieters. Even if you're not trying to lose weight popcorn provides nutritional benefits. It provides you with a bit of healthy fiber and can provide far fewer calories than many other comparable snacks.

A single three-cup serving of popcorn provides less than 100 calories, only one gram of fat, just over 18 grams of carbohydrate and 3.5 grams of dietary fiber. That means that each serving only provides 14.5 grams of net carbs. Much lower than the net carb count of many other crunchy snacks.

Of course, the way you pop your corn, and the topping that you add will change the nutritional profile of the snack. The nutrition and calories in air-popped popcorn are provided on the label. Here's how other varieties compare according to USDA data.

Popcorn Calories With Toppings

  • A 3-cup serving of plain popcorn popped in oil provides 192 calories, 2 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 14 grams of fat.
  • If you eat popcorn topped with butter, you'll add another 102 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of sugar and 91 milligrams of sodium for each tablespoon that you add.
  • If you eat popcorn topped with grated parmesan cheese you'll add another 22 calories, 2 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate, one gram of fat, and 76 grams of sodium for each tablespoon that you add.

And what about calories in popcorn that you buy at the movies? You'll consume 370 calories in AMC Theaters small movie popcorn, according to several sources. You'll also consume 20 grams of fat, 310 milligrams of sodium and 40 grams of carbohydrate.

Popcorn Calories by Brand

Have you ever wondered about Orville Redenbacher's nutrition? Or about the fat and calorie count of other popular microwavable brands that you see at the grocery store. Pre-packaged microwavable popcorn is usually not as healthy as the kind you make at home. Some brands contain unhealthy oils and other artificial ingredients.

Another tricky issue with microwave popcorn is the serving size. Brands generally list the serving size as two tablespoons unpopped or one-third of a bag. If you're like many snackers, you can easily consume the entire bag by yourself.

So when you calculate your popcorn calories be sure to count the number for the entire amount that you consume.

Here's how different brands and varieties compare according to each manufacturer. Unless indicated otherwise, the serving size is two tablespoons unpopped which can make 3.5 to 4 cups of popcorn.

  • Orville Redenbacher's Classic Butter Popcorn provides 170 calories, 12 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 260 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein
  • Orville Redenbacher's Cheddar Cheese Popcorn provides 180 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 340 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein
  • A six-cup package of Skinnygirl Butter and Sea Salt Popcorn provides 160 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 400 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber and 3grams of protein.
  • Pop Secret Butter Popcorn provides 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 300 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.
  • Act II Extreme Butter Popcorn provides 160 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 280 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.
  • Act II 94% Fat-Free Butter Popcorn provides 130 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 190 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.

If you are trying to watch your calorie intake, you can buy small 100-calorie microwavable popcorn packs that are sold by several different brands. When you only pop a small bag, it's easier to reduce your total fat and calorie intake.

FAQs About Popcorn

There are many myths and mysteries surrounding the popular snack food. Here are a few common questions that people ask about popcorn.

Can popcorn help me lose weight?
You can include popcorn in a diet to lose weight. Many people diet successfully with popcorn, but it has no magical weight loss properties. Popcorn provides fiber which can help you to feel full and satiated. This may help you to eat less. And popcorn is low in calories if you use a healthy preparation method. But the success of your weight loss program will depend on your total food plan and whether or not you create the right calorie deficit to slim down.

What are the consequences of eating popcorn?
Some popcorn eaters notice that they puff up a bit after consuming the snack. Others notice that their bowel habits change. Are these side-effects normal? Yes, they usually are. When you eat foods that contain more fiber and especially those that provide a big dose of sodium, you're likely to notice bloating or puffiness.  And fiber gets your digestive system moving. So you may notice that your bowel movements increase in frequency.

Is popcorn healthy? 
Popcorn can be part of a healthy diet. Use healthy preparation methods and limit the amount of sodium (salt or salty toppings) and butter that you add to make it healthier.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Popcorn

If you want to make your popcorn as healthy as possible, air pop your own at home. Then sprinkle with seasonings or a small dash of salt for flavor. You can also microwave your own popcorn at home without a bag. Simply put a few tablespoons of kernels in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it and place in the microwave for 2-4 minutes or until you hear the popping taper off.

If you're ready to experiment with popcorn, try one of these recipes.

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