What's Poppin?

How healthy is your popcorn?
What is Poppin
Popcorn is probably America's favorite snack food. Just walk by a movie theater concession stand, inhale deeply and you'll understand why: Its aroma practically intoxicating. But just because movie theater popcorn is drenched in butter and oil doesn't mean popcorn itself is off-limits to those trying to lose weight.

In fact, there are lots of healthy microwave popcorn options available at your supermarket (see our chart below). And if you're looking for ways to jazz up plain popcorn, look no farther than your spice rack.

  • For a hot and spicy flavor, try a sprinkle of paprika, onion powder and/or cayenne powder.

  • For a salty kick, try some seasoning salt.

  • For a taste of Asia, splash with low-sodium soy sauce or Chinese five-spice powder.

  • For a cheesy flavor, toss with grated Parmesan or a commercial popcorn cheese topping.

  • For savory snacking, spray with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and then add a dash of Old Bay Seasoning.

Ready, Set, Munch
Before you mindlessly crunch on a bag of popcorn, make sure to check the number of cups per serving. Confused by the nutrition facts label? You're not alone! Lots of people are stumped by these labels since nutritional information is sometimes given for unpopped, not popped, cups. So we went straight to the top for the answer to the much-debated question: How many cups of popped corn do two tablespoons of kernels yield?

Maria Walls, Manager of Program Development at Weight Watchers International, says, "Two tablespoons of unpopped corn can yield anywhere from 3 1/2 cups to 5 cups popped depending on the popcorn chosen. The more butter and flavoring used, the less yield you'll get, whereas plain popcorn — with nothing added — yields more."

The bottom line? "On average, two tablespoons of light unpopped popcorn kernels will yield about 4 cups popped per serving."

Brand Number of Cups (Popped) PointsPlus Value
JOLLY TIME Healthy Pop 94% Fat-Free Butter Flavor Microwave Popcorn 5 2
Newman's Own Light Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn 3 1/2 3
Newman's Own Natural Microwave Popcorn 3 1/2 3
JOLLY TIME Healthy Pop 94% Fat Free, Kettle Corn Microwave Popcorn 4 3

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