I love popcorn. Actually, my entire family loves popcorn. It’s one of my kids’ favorite snacks, and (of course) it’s always in the room when we’re watching a movie.
I’m fine with that because organic popcorn is a pretty healthy snack. Which is the healthiest though?
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The Best Organic Popcorn
We’ve separated this list into our favorite popcorn kernels, pre-popped bagged popcorn, and microwave popcorn.
The Best Organic Popcorn Kernels
Franklin’s Gourmet Organic Popping Corn
These organic popcorn kernels are super popular and highly-rated on Amazon. We love that they’re grown in the U.S. too!
The kernels are certified USDA organic and non-GMO and they don’t contain any preservatives. Just pure organic popcorn kernels.
The really cool thing about this brand is that they offer a 100% money-back guarantee, so if you’re not totally happy with it, you can reach out to them for a refund. (With nearly 1,000 5-star reviews though, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to take them up on that offer.)
Franklin’s also offers organic popcorn with pre-measured seasoning packs (but only the kernels are organic). Still, it’s a great option if you don’t feel like measuring everything out on your own.
Hunza Organic White Popcorn
These are the only white popcorn kernels on our list, but they’re quite delicious!
Like everything else on our list here, they’re USDA organic, non-GMO, and they don’t contain any additives or preservatives. The resealable bag will keep them fresh for up to 8 months (not that it would last that long in our house!)
This is some of the freshest-tasting popcorn I’ve ever had, and reviews say that it’s very easy to digest (even though it’s not entirely hull-less).
Arrowhead Mills Organic Yellow Popcorn
Arrowhead Mills is based in Texas, and it’s been in business since 1960.
They’re organic yellow popcorn is USDA organic and non-GMO. Super crispy and fresh, you’re sure to love It!
Great Northern Organic Yellow Popcorn
Great Northern Organic Yellow Popcorn is grown in the U.S. (in Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin), and it’s non-GMO.
I haven’t tried this particular brand, but the reviews are great, and there aren’t any preservatives or additives in the ingredients.
The Best Organic Bagged Popcorn
Lesser Evil Hilalayan Pink Salt Popcorn
If you don’t feel like cooking your own popcorn, you HAVE TO try this bagged popcorn from Lesser Evil. It’s one of the best-tasting popcorns I’ve ever had, and it’s USDA certified organic and only has three ingredients (organic popcorn, organic coconut oil, and Himalayan salt).
Since it uses coconut oil instead of butter, it’s also vegan!
If you like to make things super easy, they also offer individual-sized bags that are perfect for popping into lunch boxes, and you can also add this popcorn to your box from Thrive Market.
The Best Organic Microwave Popcorn
Quinn Microwave Popcorn
It tastes a little different than conventional microwave popcorn, but it’s easy to use and comes with individual seasoning packets that you pour into the popcorn after it’s popped.
It’s the only microwave popcorn that I know of that doesn’t contain any plastic or other coatings, and it also doesn’t have a heat concentrating susceptor. That makes the bag fully compostable and better for the environment (and your health).
Is Organic Popcorn Non GMO?
Yes, organic popcorn is non-GMO. In fact, most conventional popcorn is also non-GMO (contrary to what some people believe).
The reason people get confused about this is because the majority of corn grown in the U.S. is GMO. However, popcorn and the corn that we eat for dinner are two different species, and they’re grown differently as well. Popcorn is NOT grown with GMOs.
That being said, some of the additives in conventional popcorn may have GMOs (like the flavorings).
What to Look for When You’re Buying Organic Popcorn
Non-GMO. Though organic popcorn shouldn’t contain GMOs, it’s still a good idea to check the labels and do a little research. As explained above, popcorn is non-GMO, but some pre-packaged varieties can contain other GMO products in their additives and flavorings.
Freshness. Popcorn kernels can go stale (even when they’re unpopped), so you want to find the freshest kernels possible. I recommend using your grocery store’s “bulk foods” aisle if possible (the aisle that you can choose various products and add them to your own containers) because it’s routinely circulated with fresh kernels.
Small Batches. Because you want your kernels to stay fresh for as long as possible, you probably shouldn’t buy your popcorn kernels in bulk (unless you’re having a big party or you’re planning to eat it all rather quickly). Popcorn kernels typically stay fresh for about 6 months.
Resealable. To stay fresh as long as possible, you’ll want to keep your popcorn kernels in a resealable container. If the packaging isn’t resealable, transfer the kernels into a mason jar to store them.
White vs. Yellow Popcorn. Choosing between white and yellow popcorn is really a personal preference. White popcorn is more tender and the popped kernels are usually a little bit smaller. Yellow popcorn, on the other hand, has a slightly yellow color when it’s popped, and some people say that it’s more flavorful.
Benefits of Eating Organic Popcorn
Popcorn has a ton of health benefits. It’s high in fiber and low in calories, and it’s loaded with vitamins and antioxidants too.
Popcorn is High in Fiber. Fiber is such an incredibly important part of our diet. Not only does it keep you “regular,” but it also lowers your risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and some cancers. You may have heard that fiber will keep you full for a longer period of time, so it’s great when you’re trying to lose weight too. And popcorn is a whole grain that has more fiber than whole wheat bread!
It has Low Calories. Popcorn is a light snack that’s low in calories. Bundle that up with its high fiber content, and it makes for a great snack when you’re working on a weight loss goal.
Popcorn is a Good Source of Vitamins. Specifically, popcorn has high amounts of vitamin K (which helps with blood clotting), vitamin A (which helps your immune system and keeps your eyes healthy), calcium (which strengthens your bones), iron (which keeps your blood flowing properly throughout your body), and potassium (which has a laundry list of health benefits, as it’s one of the most important vitamins in the body).
It Has High Amounts of Antioxidants. Popcorn is loaded with polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that can actually help with blood circulation, digestion, and lower your risk of certain types of cancers.
Is it Okay to Eat Popcorn Everyday?
Popcorn is a healthy snack that you can eat everyday, as long as you’re choosing healthier popcorn that’s air-popped and lightly seasoned (or not seasoned at all).
How to Cook Popcorn the Healthy Way
There are a number of ways to cook popcorn. Here’s are a few different ways that you can make it. (And make it healthier).
On the Stove. To cook popcorn on the stove, all you need is popcorn kernels and some oil. Take a couple of tablespoons of oil and mix it with about 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels in a large pot. Put a lid on the pot and heat it to medium. When the kernels stop popping on a continuous basis, it’s done! Add a little bit of salt or other seasoning and enjoy!
In an Air Popper. We love this microwave air popper because it doesn’t contain any plastic and you can use it as a bowl when your popcorn is done. Fewer dishes and less mess is always a plus in my house! There are also electric air poppers that you can use (like this one). All you have to do is add the kernels, turn it on, and wait!
In a Popcorn Machine. If you’re a regular popcorn-eater or if you have a bonus room in your house that you use as a family movie theatre, you may want to invest in a popcorn machine, like this one. It’s just as easy to use as the air popper, but you’ll definitely need a little more room for it.
In the Microwave. To cook your popcorn kernels in the microwave (without a fancy air popper), just grab a basic brown lunch bag, 1/4 cup of kernels, and some oil. Mix the kernels and the oil together and then put them in the bag. Fold the bag over a couple of times and place it in the microwave for 2.5 to 3 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the kernels stop popping on a continuous basis.
Why is Microwave Popcorn Bad?
You may have heard that microwave popcorn isn’t as good for you as other types of popcorn.
This is because of the chemicals and various additives that brands often add to their popcorn bags.
In fact, popcorn bags used to be lined with PFOAs and C8 chemicals (aka teflon). Due to the dangers of teflon, PFOAs were phased out back in 2016. However, it’s not really clear what companies have replaced these chemicals with, and there isn’t a ton of research on them.
Another chemical found in microwave popcorn, diacetyl, has also had harmful health effects. Diacetyl is what gives popcorn it’s yummy buttery smell and flavor, and it was thought to be safe to ingest. Most of the problems arise when you inhale it over long periods of time.
Diacetyl can cause “popcorn lung,” which is a type of lung damage that results in scarring in the lungs and narrow airways, making it difficult to breathe.
Now, some research suggests that diacetyl can also lead to Alzheimer’s because it increases the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain.
Though most brands don’t use diacetyl in their popcorn anymore, it’s still Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. Of course, new chemicals have replaced diacetyl, but without much research, we don’t know much about them (or their effects) yet.
In addition to the harmful chemicals that can be added to microwave popcorn, many brands use hydrogenated oil, which is a bad-for-you trans fat that can actually lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues. Basically canceling out the health benefits of the popcorn itself.
Some brands have replaced hydrogenated oils with palm oil, which is still a trans fat. Plus, it’s harmful to the environment.
On your next movie night, you’re sure to have a great bowl of popcorn in hand that’s healthy for you!
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