Microwave Popcorn’s Butter Flavor May Make You Lose Your Mind

Say What!? 5

popcornMmm, the smell of hot buttered popcorn. Doesn't it just make you want to pop some ... Alzheimer's meds?! Might not be a bad idea: According to the latest research, "chronic" exposure to the artificial butter flavoring found in microwave and movie popcorn can worsen the effects of brain proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease. Yum, yum. Give me some?

The culprit here is diacetyl, an ingredient commonly used to give a "buttery taste and aroma" to (in addition to popcorn) margarines, candy, chips, and more, and the risk is greatest for people who work in places like microwave popcorn factories. (Phew! Guess it's a good thing I didn't get that job after all!) But the fact that there's any risk at all (and, by the way, diacetyl has been linked to asthma, too) begs the question: Why is this stuff still on the market?!

Seriously. It's been years since I've eaten artificially-flavored microwave or movie popcorn (with the exception of a few kernels from a friend's $20 "value" bucket or something) because it makes me feel sick. Just sitting through a movie in one of the more faux butter-scented theatres sometimes gives me a headache.

But here's the interesting part: I gave that popcorn up way before I heard anything about diacetyl and its many dangers. My body instinctively rejected the toxin-filled food, and I have to assume plenty of other people's bodies reacted, or react, in similar fashion. So ... why does anybody produce or consume this crap? Hmm, surely not because it's waaaay cheaper than real butter or anything. Diacetyl's continued usage can't possibly have anything to do with money ... can it??

Of course, you might as well start saving those pennies now. After all, if you keep eating diacetyl, chances are you're going to have some hefty medical bills to pay someday.

Does microwave or movie popcorn ever make you feel sick? Will you keep eating it?


Image via Matt Chan/Flickr

asthma, eating healthy, aging


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Saphr... SaphronScribble

Ew, yuck, exaclty why I don't eat this crap. Popping your own popcorn at home is literally thte easiest thing in the world. I don't even cook, and even I can do it! You don't need a fancy popcorn machine either. Just take a pan, fill it with (organic, non-GMO) popcorn kernals and a little bit of butter or coconut oil (Yum!), cover it in tinfoil with a few holes to let out steam, and move the pan around on top of the stove burner. When it's all popped a dash of sea salt or other spices and you're done. Ta da! fresh popcorn, no chemicals.

PonyC... PonyChaser

According to the linked article, this crap is in margarine, as well. SO glad I don't eat that! I'm a solid butter-girl (and yes, I'm very proud of my buttery hips!).

I will, right now, keep eating the popcorn that my son sells for Scouts, because we don't get all that much, and we absolutely LOVE it. But I have written to them to see if it's included in their process.

Meanwhile, i make a WICKED bowl of real popcorn - corn, oil, butter and salt. Y.U.M.

count... countrygirl670

I hate hate HATE microwave popcorn.  I am so old that I still remember the first time someone made it at work- smelled like a chemical factory took a butter-flavored dump in my office.  I would like to see microwave popcorn odor reviled on the same order as cigarette smoke (which I find less unpleasant).

nonmember avatar zizzler

You guys should google "butter lung"!! eeeek!
Jiffy pop on the campfire is fun once a year, but otherwise home made popcorn really can't be beat. If I had a choice between margarine or nothing, I'd choose nothing. Because it's foul on all kinds of levels.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Hah! Found out that the popcorn my son sells (a local brand - Pecatonica River) does NOT contain diacetyl! Woo hoo!

But re-reading the article, it continues to say "exposure" - but they never define "exposure". Is it extreme, every-day exposure by breathing and handling? is this havoc caused by inhaling the chemical? How does the digestive process affect the diacetyl? Is it absorbed through the body regardless of form of ingestion (breathing, touch, eating) and causes this 'bundling'? or can the digestive process break apart the chemical?

There are many, many unanswered questions, and I'm not ready to panic just yet. I still prefer my homemade popcorn, and I've never liked the taste or texture of margarine, so I'll still use real butter. I'll be more aware of this ingredient, but I'm not going to freak out, either.

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