Whenever I’m in airports or gas stations, the one packaged food I can’t resist buying is ready-to-eat popcorn like Skinny Pop. After eating probably 20 to 40 bags of this stuff myself, today I finally decided to do a deep dive into the nutrition. So, is Skinny Pop Healthy?
Skinny Pop is moderately healthy. It is relatively low in calories and sodium, and it contains whole grain with some fiber (3g per serving). That said, Skinny Pop also contains quite a bit sunflower oil, which makes it less healthy than oil-free air-popped popcorn.
Below, I’ll answer 12 more health questions about Skinny Pop: Does it count as “processed”? Is it good for weight loss? Is it healthier than microwave popcorn? And more!
Table of Contents
Here are all the questions I answer below:
- Is Skinny Pop a Processed Food?
- Is Skinny Pop Healthy For Weight Loss?
- Is Skinny Pop a Good Source of Fiber?
- Is Skinny Pop Sugar Free?
- Is Skinny Pop Low Fat?
- Is Skinny Pop Whole Grain?
- Is Skinny Pop Low in Cholesterol?
- Does Skinny Pop Have Refined Carbs?
- Is Skinny Pop Healthier Than Microwave Popcorn?
- Is Skinny Pop Low Sodium?
- Is Skinny Pop Kettle Corn Healthy?
- Is Skinny Pop Vegan?
1. Is Skinny Pop a Processed Food?
Skinny Pop is considered a processed food, as it contains sunflower oil. In fact, more than half of the calories in Skinny Pop come from the processed oil. However, Skinny Pop also contains whole grain, and it’s sugar-free—so it is healthier than many processed foods.
In the real world, foods are not simply “good” or bad”—there’s a whole spectrum of health, and many factors to look at. Skinny Pop is not really on the positive extreme of “clean eating,” but it’s not on the negative extreme of “junk food,” either. It’s in the middle.
Most nutritionists would advise that it is fine to eat foods like Skinny Pop in moderation. However, it is best not to eat the whole bag in one sitting.
As popcorn is medium on the glycemic index, large portions can spike your blood sugar. Also, large portions can contain a lot of calories, sodium, and omega-6 fat from the sunflower oil (which could cause inflammation if not balanced with omega-3s).
But if you eat foods like Skinny Pop in a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, it shouldn’t be a problem.
2. Is Skinny Pop Healthy For Weight Loss?
Skinny Pop can be part of a healthy weight-loss diet, as it is relatively low in calories. However, air-popped popcorn without oil would be even better for weight-loss. Without added oil, air-popped popcorn is the lowest-calorie form of popcorn by far.
Skinny Pop won’t “make you fat” or “make you lose weight” by itself, though. It all depends on your total calorie balance—your overall diet and lifestyle. If you’re watching your portion sizes and your overall diet, you can eat Skinny Pop on a diet.
When you air-pop your own popcorn without oil, the caloric density goes way down. You can eat a huge bowl of air-popped popcorn, and it still won’t be many calories.
3. Is Skinny Pop a Good Source of Fiber?
With 3 grams of fiber per serving, Skinny Pop is a pretty good source of fiber. That said, it’s not quite as fiber-rich as beans, with around 7 grams of fiber per serving, or Fiber One cereal with 14 grams of fiber per serving. So I would consider Skinny Pop a moderate source of fiber.
4. Is Skinny Pop Sugar Free?
The original flavor of Skinny Pop is sugar free. Many other flavors of Skinny Pop contain a small amount of sugar, however. The kettle corn flavors of Skinny Pop have the most sugar, with 7g or 8g per serving.
Another thing to consider is that popcorn is medium on the glycemic index. That means the carbs in popcorn are broken down into sugars in your body pretty quickly.
So if you’re concerned about sugar, you may want to limit your overall carbs from popcorn and other medium- and high-glycemic carbs, too. I personally found that sugar-free high-glycemic carbs had a similar effect on my acne as sugar. More about that here.
5. Is Skinny Pop Low Fat?
Skinny Pop is not low fat. The original flavor has 10 grams of fat in each serving. This means about 60% of the calories are from fat. Almost all of the fat is from sunflower oil, so it is mostly polyunsaturated fat.
Skinny Pop also has 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving, so it’s not low-carb, either. In terms of macronutrients, it is the lowest in protein, with only 2 grams per serving.
6. Is Skinny Pop Whole Grain?
Popcorn is a whole grain, so Skinny Pop does contain whole grain. However, Skinny Pop also contains sunflower oil, which is a processed ingredient. Therefore, Skinny Pop does not count as a “whole food” overall.
Also, remember: Popcorn is a puffed grain. This is one of the less-healthy kinds of whole grains. That’s because puffed grains are digested more quickly than in-tact grains. They spike blood-sugar levels more for many people.
7. Is Skinny Pop Low in Cholesterol?
Skinny Pop contains 0mg of dietary cholesterol—so it is definitely low in cholesterol. In addition, Skinny Pop is also low in saturated fat (1 gram per serving), which is a type of fat that raises LDL cholesterol levels.
Here’s an interesting fact when it comes to dietary cholesterol: It is only found in animal-derived ingredients. If you ever see dietary cholesterol in a product, you should know immediately that it’s not vegan.
8. Does Skinny Pop Have Refined Carbs?
Skinny Pop does not contain refined carbs. It contains refined oil in the form of sunflower oil, but the carbs come from popcorn, which is a whole grain.
However, there’s more to the story: Popcorn is a puffed grain. This is one of the less-healthy kinds of whole grains, relatively speaking. This is because puffed grains get digested quite a bit more quickly than in-tact grains. This allows them to spike our blood-sugar levels more.
Many people will do fine with puffed grains like popcorn, but they shouldn’t necessarily be considered as healthy as in-tact whole grains. Learn more in “Whole Grain Hierarchy.
9. Is Skinny Pop Healthier Than Microwave Popcorn?
Skinny Pop is healthier than most brands of microwave popcorn due to the type of oil used. Skinny Pop contains sunflower oil, while most microwave popcorn has palm oil. Palm oil is high in saturated fat, which may raise LDL cholesterol and heart disease risk.
Skinny Pop is also healthier than microwave popcorn in a couple of other ways. Typically, it has less salt, and it doesn’t contain any butter. Butter is yet another source of saturated fat, which again is not very heart-healthy.
10. Is Skinny Pop Low Sodium?
Skinny Pop is relatively low in sodium. Compared to Boom Chicka Pop, Skinny Pop contains around half the sodium (75g vs 150g per serving). Compared to microwave popcorn or movie theater popcorn, Skinny Pop also has less salt.
That said, Skinny Pop is still a bit salty. So if you eat a whole big bag of Skinny Pop, the sodium content will still add up to hundreds of milligrams (depending on the size of the bag). Exercise awareness and portion control.
11. Is Skinny Pop Kettle Corn Healthy?
Skinny Pop Kettle Corn is less healthy than original Skinny Pop. It contains 7g of sugar per serving, which raises the total calories, as well as the glycemic load. It also contains an extra 40mg of sodium per serving compared to original Skinny Pop.
While original Skinny Pop is pretty healthy aside from the sunflower oil, Skinny Pop Kettle Corn has multiple strikes on it: The sunflower oil is still there, but now it’s paired with processed sugar, and extra salt, too.
12. Is Skinny Pop Vegan?
Most flavors of Skinny Pop are vegan, including the original flavor and the White Cheddar flavor. The only non-vegan flavors of Skinny Pop are Aged White Cheddar, Pepper Jack, and Real Butter (plus the White Cheddar Puffs).
It’s pretty remarkable that White Cheddar Skinny Pop is vegan, but it’s clearly marked as dairy-free if you read the package. The same also applies to the Butter flavor of Skinny Pop’s microwave popcorn—it’s clearly labeled as dairy-free, despite the “Butter” name.
More Popcorn Content for You
I’ve written a few other helpful guides to popcorn-related topics that you may want to read:
- Is Boom Chicka Pop Healthy? 9 Things You Should Know
- Vegan Microwave Popcorn: The Ultimate Guide
- Popcorn and Bodybuilding: All Your Questions Answered
- Can You Pop Microwave Popcorn on the Stove?
Two More Recommendations for Your Vegan Journey
1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 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).
2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet—the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.