Mmm, 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