Is Smartfood Popcorn Healthy?

Close-up of popcorn
Smartfood is best as an occasional snack. (Image: Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Smartfood Popcorn is manufactured by the Frito Lay company and found in the chip section of many grocery stores. Its signature black bag is a temptation for those who love the cheesy taste and airy texture of the snack. But an unbridled indulgence in a bag of Smartfood may derail your diet. By understanding how many calories are in a serving and the various alternatives Smartfood offers, you can make more informed snacking choices.

Nutritional Information

The name "Smartfood Popcorn" can be misleading, as it indicates that the snack is a smart choice. The calories and fat in the popcorn leave much to be desired. A 1-oz. serving of the snack has 160 calories, according to the Frito Lay website. The same serving size also has 10 g of fat and 290 mg of sodium. Smartfood does offer 2 g or 3 g of fiber, depending on the variety. Eating a full bag of Smartfood will cost you 270 calories, which is about the same as six Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds.

Ingredients

While air-popped popcorn is typically a healthy snack, adding the various seasonings increases the caloric content of Smartfood. The seasoning on the popcorn is made of a combination of oil, cheddar cheese, buttermilk, whey and salt, which accounts for its high salt and fat content. Smartfood contains dairy products and is unsafe for those with dairy allergies.

Products

Smartfood popcorn is being manufactured and packaged in new ways to make it more of a healthy food. New 100-calorie packs may help you limit your consumption to a healthy amount. However, even the 100-calorie packs contain 6 g or 9 g of fat, depending on the variety; therefore, they are not a low-fat snack. Smartfood also offers smaller portions of the signature cheddar popcorn mixed with pecan clusters, which are 130 calories per package and 3.5 g of fat.

Alternatives

When you have a craving for Smartfood popcorn, it's fine to indulge in a smaller portion. If you tend to eat the entire bag, re-portion the popcorn into snack-sized bags; the bag will last longer and you won't be as prone to overeating. If you want to clean up your snack act altogether, air-popped popcorn is only 30 calories for a full-cup serving and can be seasoned with garlic, rosemary, chili powder or any number of seasonings to jazz up the flavor without altering the calorie count drastically.

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