Consumer Reports: Is popcorn a healthy snack?

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Sales of ready-to-eat popcorn are soaring partly because it is perceived as being a healthy snack, but are they really good for you? (KGO-TV)

Sales of ready-to-eat popcorn are soaring partly because it is perceived as being a healthy snack.

Some bagged popcorn brands may have healthy-sounding names, but are they really good for you? Well, Consumer Reports food experts evaluated a number of popular brands to let you know.

Popcorn has a healthy reputation as it is a whole grain, has a good source of antioxidants, and compounds that help repair cell damage.

Consumer Reports food experts brought in 15 ready-to-eat popcorn products. Some were salty, some sweet, and some cheesy.

First, the salted ones were evaluated for taste and nutrition. "We selected five popular brands with a clean ingredient list - just popcorn, oil and salt. A high-quality popcorn has a very light crispness, with no bitterness or burnt notes," Consumer Reports spokesperson Trisha Calvo said.

One surprise is Skinny Pop. Although it scores "very good" for taste, despite its name, it has more calories and fat than the other four.

Smartfood Delight Sea Salt has large, plump kernels that got very good marks for taste and good marks for nutrition.

However, the best of the bunch was Angie's Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt popcorn. Testers gave it excellent marks for its toasted-corn flavor and crispy-crunchy texture, and good marks for nutrition.

As for the sweet and cheese-flavored popcorn, Consumer Reports found that some were not as unhealthful as you'd think. Two cups of Cape Cod's Salted Caramel popcorn have just 10 more calories than its sea-salt version, and about one more gram of fat.

However, the same amount of Angie's Boom Chicka Pop White Cheddar popcorn has 50 more calories, and three times the sodium than its sea salt version.

Popcorn can be delicious and good for you if you keep one hand in the bag, and one eye on the label.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
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