Before your next Netflix binge, consider popcorn nutrition facts as you plan your snacks. When made right, popcorn can be the perfect partner for a movie marathon. However, it's important to watch what you add to your snack.
Read More: 12 Ways to Make Popcorn More Exciting
How Many Calories in Popcorn?
When it comes to popcorn nutrition, how you cook your tasty treat makes all the difference. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that oil-popped popcorn calories come out to about 64 per cup, while air-popped popcorn weighs in at 30 calories per cup. Both of these measurements are taken without butter, sugar, caramel or other popular popcorn toppings.
Of course, when you add butter or other toppings, you increase the calorie count per cup. One tablespoon of butter adds about 100 calories, while 1 ounce of caramel adds 140 calories to your snack. Keep in mind that one cup of popcorn doesn't go far.
If you're watching your calories, be sure to budget for more than just one cup of popcorn. You can also get more bang for your caloric buck by using low- or no-calorie toppings to make your snack more interesting. All kinds of herbs and spices can enhance your popcorn.
Macronutrients in Popcorn
The "macronutrients" in food comprise fat, carbohydrates and protein, and how much of each you'll get in a serving. These nutrients make up the calories in food. For example, air-popped homemade popcorn calories comprise the following macronutrients per cup:
- 1.04 grams of protein
- 0.36 grams of fat
- 6.22 grams of carbohydrates
Clearly, air-popped popcorn is almost entirely carbohydrates. However, when you use oil in the process, the percentage of fat goes up. Oil-popped popcorn macronutrients per cup break down as follows:
- 0.80 grams of protein
- 4.79 grams of fat
- 4.96 grams of carbohydrates
Depending on your macronutrient needs and diet, you may be able to fit this into your routine. The American Council on Exercise recommends that active individuals get their macronutrients in these proportions:
- 10 to 15 percent as protein
- 25 to 35 percent as fat
- 45 to 55 percent as carbohydrates
If you practice medium- to high-intensity exercise, you may need to increase your carbohydrate intake to between 55 and 65 percent of your total daily calorie consumption. However, those who want to lose body fat should consider sourcing about 40 to 50 percent of their caloric intake from carbohydrates.
Read More: What's REALLY in Your Movie Theater Popcorn?
Micronutrients and Fiber in Popcorn
Popcorn nutrition labels do not include large amounts of many micronutrients, but you should look out for sodium in your popcorn. Many people add salt or salty seasonings to popcorn.
This is usually on top of the 74.7 milligrams of sodium, per cup, that oil-popped popcorn already contains. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a high-salt diet can put you at risk for high blood pressure. This puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease.
Because corn is a grain, popcorn is relatively high in dietary fiber. One cup of air-popped popcorn contains more than one gram of fiber. While it's possible to get too much fiber, the Mayo Clinic reports that getting enough dietary fiber can:
- Regulate bowel movements
- Lower cholesterol
- Regulate blood sugar
- Help achieve and maintain a healthy weight
It's important to remember that the amount of fiber and specific micronutrients that you need depends on several factors. You may need to adjust your intake based on your current state of health, activity level or health goals.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Popcorn, Popped in Oil, Unbuttered"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Snacks, Popcorn, Air-Popped"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Butter"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Caramel"
- American Council on Exercise: "How to Determine the Best Macronutrient Ratio for Your Goals"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Salt and Sodium"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet"