How Many Calories In A Bag Of Popcorn?

Depending on whether you opt for an entire bag of microwave popcorn or stovetop popcorn without adding anything, there is a sizable difference in the number of calories.

How Many Calories In A Bag Of Popcorn

It is typically the addition of flavorings such as salt, sugar, and butter that can drive up the calorie count. In fact, a lot of health professionals would be in consensus that popcorn made healthily can be a great snack that forms part of a balanced diet.

It should be low in calories, high in fiber, and have other nutritional benefits.

In this guide, we will look at how many calories are in a bag of popcorn. We will examine microwave popcorn, stovetop popcorn, and the possible dangers of microwave popcorn.

Microwave Popcorn

A single 100-gram bag of microwave popcorn should contain between 424 and 557 calories. That amount is according to the US Food and Drug Administration (USDA) yet does depend on the specific popcorn ingredients.

Low-fat microwave popcorn should have around 424 calories in every bag, 14.2g of fiber, and 9.5g of fat, (even for a low-fat version).

There is some variation amongst brands of microwave popcorn too as some brands add different ingredients to their popcorn. For instance, 100g of microwave popcorn that is butter-flavored and made with palm oil will have more calories.

A single bag should have 535 calories, that’s mainly from 30g of fat and even less fiber at a mere 10g.

The palm oil contains a huge amount of saturated fat and that should be less than 10% of your recommended calorie intake due to the adverse effect it has on cholesterol. 

Butter-flavored popcorn that is created from partially hydrogenated oil, which is a problematic trans fat, will have 557 calories in a 100g bag with the same 10g of fiber and 34g of fat.

Look out for this type of popcorn as it will contain the most calories and have the biggest impact on your health.

The Calories In Microwave Popcorn

For an 87g of butter-flavored popcorn, you can expect 465 calories which does seem quite a lot.

Breaking that down, there will be 26g of fat with half of that being saturated fat, 0.7g of trans fat, 3.6g of polyunsaturated fat, and 0.3g of monounsaturated fat.

That amount of total fat is around 33% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) while the 13g of saturated fat represents 65% of your RDI. 

There should be no cholesterol in a bag of butter-flavored popcorn but there is likely to be around 664mg of sodium which is around 29% of your RDI.

You can also expect 50g of total carbohydrates which is around 18% of your total RDI, though 8.7g will be dietary fiber and that’s around 31% of your RDI.  

Stovetop Popcorn

On its own, popcorn kernels that are air-popped in a pan on the stove can be a healthy snack that is rich in fiber. Especially when the stovetop popcorn is created without butter or oil and then eaten in moderation.

Even better if you fail to add any sugar or marshmallow sauce to it as well.

Another 100g serving should have 387 calories with just 4g of fat and 14.5g of fiber yet you should keep your consumption in check with just a couple of cups as each one contains 31 calories with under half a gram of fat.  

The Possible Danger Of Microwave Popcorn

There is a somewhat tangible link between bags of microwave popcorn and cancer, specifically to the use of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).

How Many Calories In A Bag Of Popcorn (1)

The microwave popcorn bags would use PFCs to prevent the oil that coats the popcorn kernels from escaping through the bag, hence the grease-proof packaging.

A study in Environmental Health Perspectives from late 2013 linked PFCs and their use to cancer though microwave popcorn bags were not specifically identified. 

However, the use of PFCs in food packaging, like in microwave popcorn bags, was banned in 2016 by the USDA and can explain why the bags no longer use the additive.

The USDA did note that approval for the chemical was removed yet this was due to manufacturers voluntarily deciding to stop using it, not due to a safety evaluation.

Microwave bags of popcorn may not look that different yet, without the use of PFCs, they may well be safer and there is no longer a concern that such packaging could prove to be a risk to your health.

Final Thoughts

When you consider that a large bucket of popcorn that you can get at the movies can contain up to 1200 calories, you may want to think again.

Yes, it is a treat yet there are different ways of creating a batch of popcorn that will reduce the amount of calories.

Though bland, air-popped popcorn without any additives and made without butter or oil can be a healthy option that is rich in fiber. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Trans Fats Problematic When Consumed?

The popcorn kernels themselves are the main ingredient yet not the main problem when it comes to servings of popcorn.

When the USDA analyzed partially hydrogenated oils, which is a type of trans fat, they were ‘not generally recognized as safe’.

That’s pretty damning yet trans fat are usually used to extend the shelf-life of the bags of microwave popcorn and also flavor them.

That can be detrimental to your health as trans fat will raise your LDL cholesterol, an unhealthy cholesterol type, then decrease the good cholesterol type, HDL.  

Is the Amount Of Fiber Contained In Popcorn A Good Thing?

Popcorn kernels are considered whole grains and they have a decent amount of fiber contained in each one.

This type of fiber is an indigestible type of carbohydrate that will help the body regulate its sugar use to keep hunger at bay.

Not only that, such an amount of fiber will promote healthy digestion and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, constipation, and diverticular disease.

Adults and children need around 20 to 30g of fiber a day so eating popcorn may be a good idea considering a bag can contain between 10 and close to 15g of fiber.

Jenna Priestly
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