Who doesn’t love popcorn? The buttery, salty goodness makes it a movie night staple! But how good is microwave popcorn for us? Let’s start with a look at Pop Secret Popcorn and see if lives up to its claim of being “100% carefree.”
Pop Secret Popcorn is not that healthy. Although it is made from 100% whole grain, non-GMO corn, much of its buttery flavor comes from palm oil with its high level of saturated fat. Overall, Pop Secret Popcorn can be a healthy snack but it comes down to which flavor you choose.
Below, I’ll compare five flavors of Pop Secret, looking at carbs, sodium, and fiber. I’ll discuss whether Pop Secret contains unhealthy diacetyl or PFAS, whether it’s fattening, and more. Then I’ll share some tips for healthier popcorn at home!
Is Pop Secret Popcorn Good for You?
Here are 11 questions I’ll be answering about Pop Secret Popcorn nutrition. Click on a section or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What are the Ingredients in Pop Secret Popcorn?
- How Many Carbs Are in Pop Secret Popcorn?
- Is Pop Secret Popcorn Good for Weight Loss?
- Does Pop Secret Popcorn Have Diacetyl?
- Does Pop Secret Popcorn Have PFAS?
- Is Pop Secret Popcorn High in Sodium?
- Is Pop Secret Popcorn High in Fiber?
- Is Pop Secret Healthier than Orville Redenbacher?
- Is Pop Secret Healthier Than Act II?
- What Is a Healthy Alternative to Pop Secret Popcorn?
- Is Pop Secret Popcorn Vegan?
1. What Are the Ingredients in Pop Secret Popcorn?
Let’s begin by looking at Pop Secret Popcorn’s ingredients for 5 of the most popular flavors.
|Homestyle Butter||Whole Grain Popcorn, Palm Oil, Salt, Natural Flavors.|
|Light Butter||Whole Grain Popcorn, Palm Oil, Salt, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Paprika|
|Movie Theater Butter||Whole Grain Popcorn, Palm Oil, Salt, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Paprika|
|Extra Butter||Whole Grain Popcorn, Palm Oil, Salt, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Paprika|
|Double Butter||Whole Grain Popcorn, Palm Oil, Salt, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Paprika|
The first thing you’ll notice is that most of the ingredients are similar if not exactly the same. The ingredients list is also fairly short and simple without a bunch of additives. These are both positives. Now for a breakdown of the main ingredients:
- Pop Secret uses 100% whole grain, non-GMO popcorn which is high in fiber and part of a heart-healthy diet. Each cup contains around 1 gram of fiber for a total of around 12 grams per bag, putting it between ⅓ and ½ of the daily recommended total for most adults. Whole-grain popcorn also contains high levels of phenolic acid, a type of polyphenol that is beneficial to cellular health.
- Pop Secret uses palm oil which helps it achieve that rich, buttery flavor. While palm oil may be tasty, it’s also loaded with saturated fat. Most Pop Secret varieties have between 12 and 14 grams of saturated fat per bag. Just one bag can put you at or over your entire day’s worth of saturated fat as recommended by the American Heart Association. Overconsumption of saturated fats can lead to elevated cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease.
- Pop Secret uses natural flavorings as opposed to artificial flavorings used by some other brands. What exactly are these flavorings? Unfortunately, that is not clear but some are derived from milk and are therefore not vegan-friendly.
- Pop Secret uses annatto and paprika, two natural spices to color its popcorn. This makes it a clear winner over some other popcorn brands that use artificial colorings which, have been linked to several potential health risks.
As you can see, Pop Secret has some positives and negatives. While it may not be the healthiest snack, there are far worse options. Practicing portion control can help you enjoy the healthy benefits of whole grains and fiber while keeping your saturated fat and sodium levels in check.
2. How Many Carbs Are in Pop Secret Popcorn?
Pop Secret Popcorn contains 3 grams of carbohydrates per cup. This translates into 12 grams of carbs per serving (serving size is 4 cups) and between 36 and 42 grams of carbs per bag depending on size. Each variety contains between 3 and 3.5 servings per bag.
Overall, popcorn is not considered a low-carb food, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed on a low-carb diet. The key is to stick to portion control. It’s also important to remember that popcorn is a whole grain with satiating fiber that may help keep you fuller longer than other low-carb snacks.
3. Is Pop Secret Popcorn Good for Weight Loss?
Popcorn itself can be an excellent weight loss food. However, it all comes down to the toppings. So is Pop Secret Popcorn good for weight loss? The answer is–maybe! It all comes down to which variety and how much you eat.
Some flavors, like the “Extra Butter” and “Double Butter” are much higher in calories and fat than the others. When it comes to serving sizes, it’s also way too easy to throw that right out the window. Who hasn’t given in to that buttery, salty goodness and finished a whole bag in one sitting? We’re only human after all.
Bottom line, if you’re watching your weight and you want to indulge in some Pop Secret Popcorn, go for it! Just opt for the lighter versions and measure your servings. Pop Secret’s Light Butter Popcorn has just 100 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving (4 cups) making it a weight-loss-friendly snack.
4. Does Pop Secret Popcorn Have Diacetyl?
Pop Secret does not contain diacetyl. Like most major popcorn producers, Pop Secret removed this ingredient back in 2007. Diacetyl was used as a flavoring additive until it was discovered the chemical can lead to bronchiolitis obliterans, a respiratory condition aptly nicknamed “popcorn lung.”
Today, diacetyl is no longer used in popcorn production so consumers can snack safely on their favorite popcorn without worrying about whether or not it contains this harmful additive.
5. Does Pop Secret Popcorn Have PFAS?
Pop Secret Popcorn does not have PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances). Similar to diacetyl, PFAS were removed a few years ago once health concerns arose. PFAS are a group of chemicals that were once used to make heat-resistant coatings.
PFAS were used in everything from non-stick cookware and carpet to, you guessed it, microwave popcorn bags! Starting in 2011, studies linked PFAS to several types of cancer. After that, popcorn producers began pulling PFAS from their packaging, and the chemicals were eventually banned.
6. Is Pop Secret Popcorn High in Sodium?
Like most popcorn, Pop Secret uses a hearty dose of salt, making it a high-sodium snack. Each bag can contain between 30% to 40% of your daily sodium allowance recommended by the American Heart Association.
Here’s how each flavor compares when it comes to sodium content:
|Flavor||Sodium Content Per Serving||Sodium Content Per Bag|
|Homestyle Butter||210 mg||735 mg|
|Light Butter||220 mg||660 mg|
|Movie Theater Butter||195 mg||682 mg|
|Extra Butter||195 mg||682 mg|
|Double Butter||260 mg||780 mg|
According to the CDC, excess sodium consumption can lead to increased blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. So if you’re watching your sodium intake, opt for the Pop Secret Butter Light and stick to one portion.
7. Is Pop Secret Popcorn High in Fiber?
Pop Secret Popcorn has around 1 gram of fiber per cup and 3 to 4 grams per serving, which is considered a good source of fiber. While popcorn isn’t the highest fiber food, when compared to salty snacks like chips and pretzels, it’s the superior choice.
Dietary fiber has numerous benefits and can help with everything from heart health to weight loss. Snacks that are high in fiber, like popcorn, can help with satiety. To reap the high-fiber benefits without elevating your sodium or cholesterol levels, go for the Pop Secret Butter Light and enjoy a single portion.
8. Is Pop Secret Healthier than Orville Redenbacher?
Pop Secret Popcorn and Orville Redenbacher Popcorn are two very similar brands with many flavors of popcorn to choose from. Deciding if one is healthier than the other really comes down to the individual product so we’ll compare flavors of each brand with similar ingredients. Let’s take a look at the “Light Butter” version of each.
Both Pop Secret and Orville Redenbacher’s Light Butter Popcorn contain 25 calories and 1 gram of fat per cup. The main difference is in the sodium content. Pop Secret has 55 mg of sodium per cup, whereas Orville Redenbacher has 30 mg. So, from a sodium perspective, Orville Redenbacher has a slight health advantage.
9. Is Pop Secret Healthier Than Act II?
Pop Secret Popcorn and Act II Popcorn both have a lot of similarities and quite a few flavors to choose from. For a fair comparison, we’ll look at the “Light Butter” version of each.
Pop Secret Light Butter Popcorn contains 25 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 55 mg of sodium per cup. Act II Light Butter Popcorn contains 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 35 mg of sodium per cup.
It would seem the clear winner is Act II with lower calories, fat, and sodium. However, Act II does have one major ingredient difference. It contains TBHQ, a controversial food additive that has potential links to cancer. So, it comes down to personal preference and if you’re comfortable with consuming TBHQ to save a few calories.
10. What Is a Healthy Alternative to Pop Secret Popcorn?
The healthiest popcorn is plain, air-popped popcorn that you can easily make at home.
You can buy plain popcorn kernels at just about any supermarket and pop them in an air popper or special microwave popcorn bowl. Don’t have any of that? Not to worry, a plain paper bag is all you need. Throw a few tablespoons of kernels in a paper bag, fold, and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes for fresh air-popped popcorn.
For the healthiest popcorn you’ll want to forgo the toppings but let’s face it, that’s just no fun! This is where a little creativity comes in.
There are plenty of guilt-free ways to season your popcorn without a ton of oil and salt. You can try a quick spritz of avocado oil, a tiny pinch of sea salt, or a light dusting of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor (plus the added vitamins and minerals).
Herbs, spices, and citrus fruits are another great way to spruce up your popcorn without adding calories and fat. Try a bit of lemon and rosemary for a Mediterranean-style popcorn or smoked paprika, chili, and lime for a Tex-Mex treat.
11. Is Pop Secret Popcorn Vegan?
Some flavors of Pop Secret Popcorn are vegan-friendly and some are not. Here’s a helpful chart:
|Homestyle Butter||No||Milk (listed as Natural Flavors)|
|Light Butter||No||Milk (listed as Natural Flavors)|
|Movie Theater Butter||No||Milk (listed as Natural Flavors)|
|Extra Butter||No||Milk (listed as Natural Flavors)|
|Double Butter||No||Milk (listed as Natural Flavors)|
|Sweet and Crunchy Caramel||Yes*||–|
|Sweet and Crunchy Kettle Corn||Yes*||–|
*Note that all Pop Secret Popcorn is made on shared equipment. Most vegans are ok with this, but it may be an important factor for those with serious allergies.
If you’re looking for vegan popcorn, however, there are plenty of options out there. In fact, we have a whole guide to vegan microwave popcorn brands.
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