A good while back, I posted a blog about the dangers of diacetyl, the chemical additive in butter flavoring for popcorn. A growing body of evidence had begun to point point to the chemical’s being a respiratory hazard to workers in the popcorn factories where the stuff pollutes the air, inspiring numerous law suits. At the time of that blog, the governmental powers that be were still holding firm that it if diacetyl caused the illness (it’s approved for use in flavors by the FDA, after all) it constituted a workplace exposure problem and didn’t appear to pose a risk to consumers.
Comes now the article by NY Times journalist Gardiner Harris (and picked up on every news agency from Fox to CNN) of a consumer who has developed ‘popcorn lung‘ from breathing in the diacetyl-laced fumes of microwave buttered popcorn several times a day for years.
Stop and think about that last paragraph…this gentleman popped (and presumably did not just sniff, but ate) several bags of butter-flavored microwave popped corn every day for years. One assumes it’s not all he ate, though it could have been. With an average of 3 servings of corn in a microwave bag, at an average of 25 grams of usable carb per bag, eating “several bags a day” of popcorn constitutes a whole lot of corn starch–about 75 grams worth, minimum. That, all by itself, is about double the daily total effective carb intake for people trying to lose weight or regain health on a low carb diet. Heck, it’s more than the total carb intake for most people trying to just maintain health and weight in a carb conscious lifestyle, all taken up by very antigenically active (read that potentially damaging) corn starch, leaving no room for any other source of carb.
This whole diacetyl thing makes for just one more reason a low carb diet is more healthful than a low fat one. No one following a low carb diet would have ever been so exposed to this particular toxic compound, because no one on a low carb diet would ever dream of eating 9 servings of popcorn a day.
That’s not to say that every now and then, it’s not a treat to curl up on the couch with a good movie and some hot buttered popcorn. The key is that it should always be a treat and should never be hot ‘butter-flavored, low-fat’ popcorn.
If the mood for popcorn strikes you, do it safely. Here’s a link to a recipe for making your own diacetyl-free microwave popcorn, with a brown bag, popping corn, salt, and oil. I’d use coconut oil, personally, and then top it with melted real butter or try melting the butter, mixing the unpopped corn with that and microwaving in the bag.
Do not fail to note that the recipe makes 3 servings and the whole bag contains 24.6 grams of total carb with 4.9 grams of it as fiber, so an ECC of 19.7 grams. Each serving is 6.5 grams, which is totally doable as a snack.
So if the mood strikes, curl up with a good movie (or football game, in my case) this weekend and split a bag with a friend…or two.