Is Act II Popcorn Healthy? 11 Things You Should Know

Is Act II Popcorn Healthy?

No, Act II popcorn is not healthy.

Continue reading to find out more and check your knowledge!

Ingredients to be cautious about

  • Palm oil
  • TBHQ
  • Dairy ingredients
  • Artificial color (Blue 1 Lake)
  • Added diacetyl
  • PFAS
  • High sodium levels

Possible short-term side effects

  • Digestive issues
  • Headache
  • Allergic reaction
  • Hyperactivity
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • High blood pressure

Possible long-term side effects

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Allergic reactions
  • Lung disease
  • Compromised immune system
  • High blood pressure

Benefits

  • 100% whole grain
  • No trans fat
  • No diacetyl
  • Low sugar
  • No cholesterol
  • No gluten
  • Vegan
  • No artificial flavors
  • No artificial colors
  • No added preservatives
  • Contains healthy grains

Healthy alternatives

  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Vegetable chips
  • Fruit slices
  • Greek yogurt
  • Dark chocolate

Did you know...? 🤔

Is Act II Popcorn generally a healthy snack option?

Does Act II Popcorn contain added diacetyl?

Is Act II Popcorn considered high in fiber?

Related videos

Here’s an interesting fact about Act II popcorn: Their “Butter Lovers” flavor doesn’t even have butter in it. In fact, it doesn’t have dairy at all—it’s vegan! However, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. So, today, let’s take a closer look at Act II popcorn nutrition.

Act II Popcorn may seem healthy because it has 100% whole grain, no trans fat, and no diacetyl in its butter flavoring. On the down side, however, Act II is high in sodium, high in saturated fat from palm oil, and has a controversial additive, TBHQ. Overall Act II popcorn is not very healthy.

Below, I’ll share a detailed analysis of Act II’s nutritional value. I’ll address whether popcorn is good for weight loss and how Act II compares to its competitors, Pop Secret and Orville Redenbacher. Then to finish, I will share how to make popcorn a healthier way! 

Is Act II Popcorn Unhealthy? 

Here are the 11 topics I will be discussing with you today. Below are links to each question to get you straight to the point! If not, continue reading below: 

  1. What Are the Ingredients in Act II Popcorn? 
  2. How Many Carbs Are in Act II Popcorn?
  3. Is Act II Popcorn Good For Weight Loss?
  4. Does Act II Popcorn Have Diacetyl?
  5. Does Act II Popcorn Contain PFAS?
  6. Are Sodium Levels High In Act II Popcorn? 
  7. Is Act II Popcorn Considered High In Fiber?
  8. How Does Act II Compare to Orville Redenbacher?
  9. How Does Act II Compare to Pop Secret?
  10.  Is Act II Popcorn Vegan?
  11.  Healthier Choices For Snacking.

1. What Are the Ingredients in Act II Popcorn? 

Here are the ingredients of five Act II Popcorn flavors, ranging from butter flavor, and Kettle Corn, to Llama Party Cotton Candy Flavor!

FlavorIngredients
Llama Party, Cotton Candy PopcornWhole Grain Popping Corn, Palm Oil, Salt, Artificial Flavor, Sucralose, Blue 1 Lake, TBHQ, and Citric Acid (For Freshness).
Kettle Corn Popcorn Whole Grain Popping Corn, Palm Oil, Salt, Sucralose, TBHQ, and Citric Acid (For Freshness).
Butter Lovers PopcornWhole Grain Popping Corn, Palm Oil, Salt, Natural Flavor, Color Added (Annatto), TBHQ, and Citric Acid (For Freshness).
Xtreme Butter PopcornWhole Grain Popping Corn, Palm Oil, Salt, Color Added (Annatto) Natural Flavors, Butter, TBHQ, and Citric Acid (For Freshness).
Movie Theater Butter PopcornWhole Grain Popping Corn, Palm Oil, Salt, Colour Added (Annatto), Natural Flavor (Including Milk), TBHQ, and Citric Acid (For Freshness). 
Act II Popcorn Ingredients

So, here’s my take on these ingredients and their usage:

  • Act II Popcorn has whole grain popping corn. Whole grain popping corn is the main agent that makes up the majority of these ingredients. Grains in general are indeed high in fiber, so this ingredient is considered healthy if prepared properly. 
  • Act II Popcorn has palm oil. Now, although palm oil is a versatile oil that holds various functions, it is highly processed and is high in saturated fats. Commonly, saturated fats can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and other various health concerns. (Source) 
  • Act II Popcorn has TBHQ. TBHQ is a controversial preservative used with the oil in Act II. It’s FDA-approved, but some people have reported “vision disturbances” linked to TBHQ. Animal studies have shown side effects like tumors, liver enlargement, convulsions, and paralysis. (source)
  • Some Act II Popcorn flavors have dairy ingredients. Now this isn’t an issue for everyone, but would not be suitable for vegans or individuals with IBS, and lactose intolerance. However, the Kettle Corn Popcorn and the Butter Lovers Popcorn are both in fact vegan! 
  • The Act II Popcorn flavor ‘Llama Party’ has added Artificial Color (Blue 1 Lake). This dye can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. The other Act II Popcorn flavors contain natural colorings such as annatto. This natural coloring is harmless as it originates from the seeds of the achiote tree. (Source)

So as you can see, the whole grain is a healthy ingredient, but is cooked with unhealthy ingredients to counteract the good. 

2. How Many Carbs Are in Act II Popcorn? 

The amount of carbs in Act II popcorn varies depending on the specific flavor and serving size. However, as a general reference, one serving (approximately 2 tbsp of unpopped kernels) of Act II butter-flavored popcorn contains 20 g of carbohydrates, which includes 3g of  fiber and 0g of sugar.

Overall, Act II popcorn is not a low-carb food, and it should be limited to a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Here is a table showing the various Act II Popcorn flavors and their carb amount:

FlavorServing SizeTotal Carbs
Llama Party Cotton Candy Popcorn4 cups popped16 g
Kettle Corn Popcorn 4.5 cups popped19 g
Butter Lovers Popcorn 4.5 cups popped20 g
Xtreme Butter Popcorn5 cups popped 20 g
Movie Theater Popcorn 4.5 cups popped19 g
Act II Popcorn: Carbohydrate Content.

3. Is Act II Popcorn Considered Efficient For Weight Loss?

Act II Popcorn is not great for weight loss, as it has palm oil, which is high in calories and saturated fat. So, although Act II Popcorn uses 100% whole grain popping corn, palm oil overrides those benefits with saturated fats. If eaten in moderation, Act II Popcorn can be included in a weight loss plan, however.

The most efficient way to lose weight is calorie control. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Therefore, you must maintain a calorie deficit to achieve the weight loss you desire, meaning you consume fewer calories than you burn. (Source)

So, can Act II Popcorn make you gain weight? Yes, if you are overeating Act II popcorn, you will gain weight. Some Act II Popcorn flavors not only contain high-fat palm oil, but some also contain butter products, which are also high in saturated fats. 

4. Does Act II Popcorn Have Diacetyl?

Act II Popcorn does not contain added diacetyl. In 2007, ConAgra Foods announced that ACT II would no longer use butter that contains diacetyl, which creates a butter-like flavor. 

So, what is diacetyl? Diacetyl is an organic compound with the chemical formula (CH₃CO)₂. It is a yellow liquid with an intensely buttery flavor. Diacetyl occurs naturally in alcoholic beverages and is added as a flavoring to some foods to expand its buttery flavor.

Exposure to diacetyl has been associated with severe respiratory impairment and bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung), a major lung disease that is irreversible. In this disease, the smallest airways in the lung (the bronchioles) become scarred and constricted, blocking the movement of air. (Source)

5. Does Act II Popcorn Contain PFAS?

Microwave popcorn has been identified as a source of exposure to PFAS chemicals through the packaging that it’s cooked in. PFAS are used in paper food packaging which acts as a barrier to repel grease from food getting on the packaging. 

So what are per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS)? They are a large group of synthetic industrial chemicals used in everyday products. They first came into effect in the 1950’s and were widely used for cookware, packaging, toiletries, and clothing.

PFAS are often referred to as ‘forever chemicals’ because of their interminable effects on the environment.

Once PFAS are exposed to the environment, they can spread and cause damage for thousands of years. Studies have shown that PFAS can cause various health concerns, such as reproductive and development disruption, increased cholesterol, impacts on thyroid function, and liver and kidney effects. (Source)

Conagra released a statement that says “We removed PFAS last year from the packaging used for our Act II Microwave Popcorn products in the U.S., and as of March 2023 we will no longer use PFAS in the packaging for our microwave popcorn products sold internationally under Act II Brand”  (Source)

So, to clarify, Act II Popcorn does not contain PFAS anymore. 

6. Are Sodium Levels High In Act II Popcorn?

The sodium levels in Act II Popcorn vary depending on each flavor, ranging from 70 mg to 380 mg. These sodium levels are somewhat high for the recommended serving sizes. 

Below is a table showing the top 5 Act II flavors and their sodium levels. 

FlavorServing SizeSodium 
Llama Party Cotton Candy Popcorn4 cups popped70 mg
Kettle Corn Popcorn 4.5 cups popped170 mg
Butter Lovers Popcorn 4.5 cups popped310 mg
Xtreme Butter Popcorn5 cups popped 290 mg
Movie Theater Popcorn 4.5 cups popped380 mg
Act II Popcorn: Sodium Content. 

The FDA says “Americans eat on average about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day—that’s equal to about 1 teaspoon of table salt! For children under age 14, recommended limits are even lower.” (source)

If we were to compare sodium levels in Act II popcorn vs the recommended daily allowance, the results are quite surprising. One full bag of ACT II Butter Lovers popcorn has 775 mg of sodium, which is 32.5% of the recommended daily allowance (source).

That’s nearly a third of your daily sodium intake, just from this one snack! 

High levels of sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure, which is a serious cause of heart attacks and strokes (source). So, it is best to choose popcorn that is lower in sodium. 

For a lower-sodium popcorn brand, check out Skinny Pop.

7. Is Act II Popcorn Considered High in Fiber?

Act II Popcorn has between 2g to 3g of fiber in each recommended serving size (around 4 cups). This is more fiber than you would find in french fries or chips. 

Below are the top 5 Act II flavors and each of their fiber contents. 

FlavorServing SizeFiber
Llama Party Cotton Candy Popcorn4 cups popped2 g
Kettle Corn Popcorn 4.5 cups popped3 g
Butter Lovers Popcorn 4.5 cups popped3 g
Xtreme Butter Popcorn5 cups popped 3 g
Movie Theater Popcorn 4.5 cups popped3 g
Act II Popcorn: Fibre Contents. 

As you can see from the table above, Act II Popcorn does contain fiber, but is not really “high in fiber.” The recommended daily fiber intake is around 30g, according to UCSF Health. 

So, Act II Popcorn is a moderate source of fiber.

8. How Does Act II Compare to Orville Redenbacher?

Act II and Orville Redenbacher are both popular brands that offer ‘Movie Theater’ flavor popcorn. Both of these products have nearly identical ingredients—the only difference is the ingredients used for freshness.

Act II contains TBHQ and Citric Acid (for freshness), whilst Orville Redenbacher contains Mixed Tocopherols (vitamin E for freshness). 

As for the nutritional contents, both of the movie theater flavors have the same sodium level, fiber content, and protein. However, Orville Redenbacher has a total fat content of 11g, whereas Act II only has 8g. 

As a comparison, I would conclude that Orville Redenbacher is slightly unhealthier than Act II. For more detail, read my full review of Orville Redenbacher nutrition here.

9. How Does Act II Compare to Pop Secret? 

Pop Secret is slightly healthier than Act II popcorn based on the sodium levels. 

Act II and Pop Secret both offer ‘Movie Theater’ popcorn flavor in their range, so I have chosen to analyze this flavor. These two brands both contain the exact same ingredients, so there is not a big difference between them. 

For the nutritional contents, they both contain the same amount of fats (8g) and saturated fats (4g). However, Act II sodium content is significantly higher (380g) than Pop Secret (270g). This indicates that Pop Secret is slightly better for you based upon the sodium levels. 

10. Is Act II Popcorn Vegan? 

I mentioned above that Act II Butter Lovers popcorn is surprisingly vegan. But that doesn’t mean all Act II popcorn is. Below is a table of the top 5 Act II flavors and whether or not they are vegan:

FlavorAnimal IngredientsIs It Vegan?
Llama Party Cotton Candy PopcornVegan
Kettle Corn Popcorn Vegan
Butter Lovers Popcorn Vegan
Xtreme Butter PopcornButterNot Vegan
Movie Theater Popcorn Natural Flavor (Including Milk)Not Vegan
Which Act II Popcorn is vegan? (Source)

11. Healthier Choices for Snacking

So to conclude, popcorn itself is healthy, as it is 100% whole grain. But the added ingredients in microwave popcorn can get you into trouble.

The best way of keeping popcorn healthy is by cooking it via air-popping at home. Using this method means using less oils and additives, resulting in a healthier popcorn option. (source)

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.

2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).