Movies and buttered popcorn go together like hands and gloves. But, maybe they shouldn’t, particularly when that “buttered” portion of the popcorn is actually something that is more fittingly described as chemical soup. If you have ever wondered, “what exactly is in that butter-flavored popcorn topping?” keep reading, you’re in for a surprise.
Buttered microwave popcorn (and the stuff sold in theatres as well) contains numerous food additives, including two seriously health-harming ones known as diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedion (PD). But, I’m guessing that Diacetyl and 2,3-Penanedion Coated Microwave Popcorn just wouldn’t fly off the grocery store shelves. Both of these synthetic chemicals have been found in studies to harm brain health and are even linked to Alzheimer’s disease and respiratory problems.
In a study published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, researchers found that diacetyl increased the tendency of brain plaques known as beta-amyloid to form in the brain by increasing its tendency to clump. Beta-amyloid is a type of plaque that is considered one of the primary causative factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the scientists discovered that the chemical easily traveled across the blood-brain barrier model they created. That’s a scary thought.
The blood-brain barrier is the body’s protective mechanism to keep harmful toxins out, but if diacetyl easily gains access to the delicate brain and is involved in the development of brain-damaging plaques then that buttered popcorn actually creates the perfect storm of conditions to wreak havoc on the brain, and possibly to cause or aggravate dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
As if that wasn’t enough reason to ditch that chemical-buttered popcorn, research in the journal The American Journal of Pathology found that people who work in the factories where that buttery topping is made are actually vulnerable to a novel disease known as “flavorings-related lung disease.” The researchers assessed the toxicity of breathing in this chemical compound and they concluded that it “is a respiratory hazard that can also alter gene expression in the brain.”
While these workers are obviously breathing in the chemically-faked butter smell in greater quantities than the rest of us, it does beg the question “what are the effects of breathing in this chemical on a periodic level?” More research needs to be done to answer it, but it seems like a good idea if you’re suffering from a respiratory condition like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or another breathing disorder that you might want to stay clear of that buttered popcorn. But, I think the brain-damaging potential of this nasty stuff is compelling enough reason for everyone to avoid it.
So, what’s a popcorn lover to do? Make plain organic popcorn and drizzle equal parts of cold-pressed flax oil and cold-pressed almond oil over it. The blend offers a delightfully buttery taste on popcorn. Plus, it’s packed with beneficial fats that boost brain and respiratory health, rather than destroy it.
And, while you’re at it, maybe put some pressure on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada or other regulatory agency to do their job and ban this nasty chemical garbage from our food supply.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.