Are Popcorners Healthy? An Ingredient Analysis

Are Popcorners Healthy? An Ingredient Analysis

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Popcorners is a popular chip brand made from corn that comes in a wide variety of flavors. The brand claims that their products are "air popped" and "never ever fried."

But what ingredients are in Popcorners, and are these snacks healthy? Does the fact that they're "air-popped" really matter? Which flavor is the healthiest? And how does Popcorners compare to popular chip brands like Doritos in terms of healthiness?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Popcorners based on clinical studies to give our take on whether or not this brand is healthy.

We'll pick the healthiest Popcorners flavor, share our thoughts on the "air-popped" marketing claim, and compare the ingredients in Popcorners to Doritos to see which is healthier.

Ingredient Analysis

Popcorners White Cheddar ingredients

The ingredients in White Cheddar flavor of Popcorners are shown above.

Yellow corn is the first ingredient, and is a nutritious ingredient for a chip base.

One cup of yellow corn provides 211 milligrams (mg) of magnesium, 349 mg of phosphorous and 476 mg of potassium according to the USDA.

Sunflower oil is a somewhat suboptimal choice in our opinion, as a meta-study published in the Open Heart journal suggests that high consumption of omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils may be associated with the rise in heart disease in Western societies.

Sunflower oil was also shown to cause more DNA damage than olive oil in one clinical trial, as we documented in our review of meal replacement brand Huel.

Canola oil is also relatively high in omega-6 fats.

Cheddar cheese is rich in calcium, but Popcorners fails to document whether the cheese is sourced from pastured cows or conventionally-raised cows on their product page.

A medical review published in the Foods journal suggests that dairy from pastured animals is nutritionally superior to that from conventionally-raised animals, which is why we suggest that consumers who can afford it choose exclusively pastured dairy.

Citric acid is a flavor enhancer that elicits "significant" inflammatory reactions in some individuals, according to a 2018 medical review.

It's also worth noting that we can't find any evidence that a product being "air-popped" is relevant from a health perspective. 

Deep-fried foods are generally considered unhealthy because they contain a large amount of cheap vegetable oil, so the relevant consideration should be how much cheap oil a snack product contains, rather than how it's prepared.

Overall, we do not consider Popcorners to be healthy. 

But is this snack brand healthier than popular alternatives like Doritos? We'll answer that question in the next section of this article.

Popcorners vs. Doritos

Doritos Nacho Cheese ingredients

The ingredients in Doritos Nacho Cheese are shown above.

Corn, vegetable oil and cheddar cheese form the base for these chips, just like with Popcorners.

The main difference from a health perspective, in our opinion, is that Doritos has more unhealthy filler ingredients.

Yellow 6, Yellow 5 and Red 40 are three different types of artificial colors, and a 2012 medical review suggests that all of the currently used dyes should be removed from the food supply due to toxicity concerns. 

Sugar is included, although at a low dose of 1 gram (g) per serving.

Artificial flavor may have toxic effects, at least according to a 2018 animal study.

Overall, we consider Popcorners to be significantly healthier than Doritos, and healthier than the majority of commercial chip brands due to the lack of synthetic additives.

What's the Healthiest Popcorners Flavor?

Popcorners is sold in seven flavors at the time of publishing this article.

We consider the Sea Salt flavor to be the healthiest option sold by the brand. Its ingredients are shown below:

Popcorners Sea Salt flavor ingredients

This flavor contains no citric acid, flavoring additives or dairy from conventionally-raised animals.

This product still contains sunflower oil which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, but this is a significantly healthier formulation than most chip brands in the US that we've reviewed.

For consumers planning to purchase Popcorners, this is the flavor we recommend.

This flavor also has the fewest calories per serving (120), so it may be the best option for consumers trying to lose weight, and planning to purchase Popcorners.

Nutritionist Picks Healthy Snacks

A nutritionist named Autumn Bates has a YouTube video on healthy snacks for weight loss that has over 60,000 views:

Our Healthy Chip Pick

Jackson's Sweet Potato Kettle Chips are our top healthy chip pick.

Organic coconut oil is used instead of vegetable oil, which is lower in omega-6 fatty acids.

Sweet potato is used as the base ingredient, and this food is clinically shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects.

The only ingredients in this product are sweet potatoes, organic coconut oil and sea salt; there are no additive sweeteners or flavoring agents.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


We do not consider Popcorners to be healthy, because the brand uses vegetable oils, dairy sourced from conventionally-raised animals, and questionable additives like citric acid.

Sea Salt is the healthiest Popcorners flavor in our opinion, because it has no citric acid, conventionally-sourced dairy, or natural flavors.

Popcorners is still significantly healthier than commercial brands like Doritos in our opinion, because Doritos has artificial color and artificial flavor.

In this article, we featured a video from a nutritionist who shared some healthy snack options.