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Is Popcorn Ok on The Candida Diet?

Updated 2/18/2024

Written by Dan Jackowiak Nc, HHP

Popcorn, a whole grain food, a variety of flint corn, is one of the oldest and most widely consumed snacks in the world. The kernels contain water and when heated the water converts into steam and makes the kernel expand 20-50 times its size, therefore they are called “pop”corn. It is produced in most of the countries around the globe with US, China, Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine, and India are top producing countries in the world. United States is the top producer and consumer of popcorn. Americans spend millions of dollars a year on Popcorn.

Brief History of Popcorn


Humans have known popcorn for centuries. Archaeological studies have found remnants of popcorn from 3600BC. Some sources claim that variety of corn similar to popcorn was domesticated by pre-Columbian people around 5000 BC. The exact time period of when “popping” started is unknown. It is believed that during first half of 19th century people used popcorn as a late night snacks and at picnics and parties. By the end of 19th century, the mass consumption started in US after the popcorn machine invention by Charles Cretors. The consumption vastly increased during World War II due to diminishing candy production. In 1981, the use of pop corns sharply increased after the issuance of 1st microwave popcorn bag patent.

Nutrient Profile of Popcorn

There are a variety of nutrients in popcorn including dietary fibers, proteins, minerals and vitamins with surprising health benefits. All these nutrients have proven health benefits.

  • Carbohydrates in popcorn: According to USDA, microwaved popcorn contain 73g/100 grams carbohydrates which covers 27% of daily value(DV). 25% of those carbs are in the form of fibers which are good for health.

  • Dietary fibers in popcorn: Popcorn is rich in dietary fibers: A 100 grams of microwave popcorn contains 14 gram of dietary fibers and covers 50% of the recommended daily value (DV). Fiber contents make popcorn more satiating compared to most other regular snacks.

  • Proteins in popcorn: Popcorn is also a good source of proteins. 100 grams of microwave popcorn contains 13 gram of protein and it is 26% of the daily value (DV).

  • Fats: Popcorn is considered low fat especially if it is prepared without oil and butter additives. There are 9.50 grams of fats in 100 grams of microwave popcorn. The unhealthy saturated fats are low in content; 1.415 grams/ 100 grams. Most of the fats are polyunsaturated (3.572 grams/100 grams) and monounsaturated (4.085 grams/ 100 grams) which are healthy fats.

Vitamin and Minerals in Popcorn:

Popcorn is rich in vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Iron copper and Zinc. 100 grams of microwave popcorns contain

Niacin=2.070 mcg ( 13% of DV ), Thiamin=0.350 mcg ( 29% of DV ) Vitamin B6= 0.170 mg ( 13% of DV ), Vitamin E= 2.01 mg ( 22% of DV ), Vitamin K= 15.7 mcg ( 13% of DV ), 0.545 mg ( 61% of Copper ), Iron = 2.28 mg ( 13% of DV ), Magnesium= 151 mg ( 38% of DV ), Phosphorus = 264 mg ( 38% of DV) , Zinc = 3.83 mg ( 35% of DV ).

Antioxidants in Popcorn

Popcorn is an excellent source of antioxidants. The antioxidants present in popcorn are polyphenol compounds with proven health benefits. A study found that a serving of popcorn contains up to 300 mg of antioxidants. Furthermore, the popping does not have any effect on the polyphenol content.

Health Benefits of Popcorn

There are a variety of healthy nutrients in popcorn, but health benefits of popcorn largely depends on how it is prepared. The additives such as oil, salt and sugar negatively effect the health potential of popcorn.

  • Popcorn is a whole grain food and studies have found that consumption of whole grain foods including popcorn is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, their consumption has also been found to be associated with decreased mortality rate in CVD patients. The cardiovascular benefits are because of the fiber content of popcorn which help in reducing blood pressure, and improving lipid profiles.

  • Popcorn is good for digestive system health and weight management because of its high satiating capacity. This is achieved by high dietary fiber contents. A number of studies have shown weight loss benefits associated with high dietary fiber containing foods.

  • The use of popcorn in your diet can also cause reduced risk of diabetes because of its low glycemic index (GI). Low GI foods maintain glucose levels by avoiding fluctuations in blood glucose level.

  • Polyphenol compounds present in popcorn can also be help in preventing various types of cancers because of their high antioxidants contents.

  • The consumption of sugar free popcorn also helps in quitting the smoking habit.

Health Risks of Popcorn

Popcorn can be unhealthy especially when oil, salt, and sugars are added to them. Many commercially available packaged popcorn contains some unhealthy additives which are not good for human health. The health risks of consuming such popcorn products are:

  • The packed popcorn, especially microwave packing contain perfluorooctanoic acid   (PFOA), a chemical found to be linked with a number of health related issues such as increased risk of cholesterol, high diabetes mellitus risk, increased incidence of cancer, immune system problems, and a number of other health risks.

  • Popcorn can be a potential choking hazard especially for children under age of 3.

  • The consumption of popcorn can also cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

  • Commercial packed popcorn have also been found to contain partially hydrogenated oils which is dangerous for heart health.

  • Other chemicals often found in packaged popcorn are Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), and Propyl Gallate . Both of the chemicals show a number of health risks in animal models such as stomach cancer, allergies, and ADHD. The consumption of excess popcorn containing such chemicals can put you at risk of many diseases.

Popcorn on The Candida Diet

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for three cups of popcorn (24g) air-popped without added butter, salt, or oil.

Calories: 93

Fat: 1.1g

Sodium: 1.9mg

Carbohydrates: 18.6g

Fiber: 3.6g

Sugars: 0.2g

Protein: 3g

Air popped popcorn has a glycemic index of 55, which is on the upper end of low and is considered acceptable for diabetics. The glycemic load of that 3 cups of popcorn would come in at 10. If you took into account that the 3.6 grams of fiber is going to offset the same amount of carbs, the glycemic load would come in at 8.25. This is borderline on the Candida Diet but would more than likely be ok.

Now if you cut that serving size in half so it only contained 9g of carbs, the glycemic load would be 5, which would be more than acceptable as an occasional snack. Two cups would have a glycemic load of 7 and would probably be ok as well.

Make sure you pop it yourself and don't use packaged products such as microwavable popcorn, which does contain chemicals that are not healthy for anyone. Using Sea or Himalayan salt and butter to taste is acceptable as well on the Candida Diet.

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