Heart-Stopping Cinematic Excitement: Guess How Much Fat Is in Movie Popcorn?

By Brett Israel | November 20, 2009 7:00 am

popcornIn the latest installment of “science ruins your guilty pleasure,” a new report confirms what everyone pretty much already knew–movie popcorn is terrible for you.

Via the Los Angeles Times:

A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation’s largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released today by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Popcorn from Regal Entertainment Group, AMC and Cinemark, were analyzed in lab. Regal was the worst offender, packing 1,200 calories, 60 grams of saturated fat, and 980 milligrams of sodium into a medium popcorn–before adding butter! The gooey buttery sauce adds 200 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per 1.5 tablespoons.

Both Regal and AMC pop their popcorn in coconut oil, which is about 90 percent saturated fat, noted the study’s authors. Cinemark uses canola oil, which is healthier, but a medium popcorn from Cinemark will still add around 760 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat to your diet, according to the analysis, which is published in the December issue of CSPI’s Nutrition Action HealthLetter.

On a positive note, no trans-fats were detected in any of the samples.

Apparently, there aren’t any plans to include a low calorie popcorn at any of the movie chains’ snack bars, so if you want healthier options, just do like everyone else and sneak in your own food.

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Discoblog: For Impulsive Eaters, Losing Weight Is a Guilt Trip Away
Discoblog: Just Like Humans, Crows Embrace Junk Food…and Pay the Price

Image: flickr / jennie-o

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food
MORE ABOUT: food, junk food, obesity
  • Doug

    I’m sadly amused that Regal and AMC are using coconut oil. I recall a massive uproar about this many years ago, and movie chains were quick to switch to oils with lower saturated fat content.

    Now, to be fair, this won’t change my popcorn consumption habits at movies. What I mean by this is that I rarely get popcorn, but when I do it normally takes the place of the protein/fat portion of my next meal. This is mainly because I’m cheap, but it seems to work out well.

    What’s worse than the fat content in popcorn? Watching 2012 and knowing that the popcorn is a better value than the ticket you just bought.

  • krrh

    The trashing of coconut oil are pretty uwarranted. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil actually are quite healthy and have been shown to have positive effects on heart and brain health. Canola oil producers have done a great job in convincing the public that it is a healthy alternative since it is ‘unsaturated’, but the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is terribly out of wack by the time it is processed, and the oil also degrades quickly when exposed to heat and has a short shelf-life.

    Though it’s good to know the total calorie count is that high, and as the previous poster points out, the real danger here is that 1200 calories of popcorn can too easily sub out a decent balanced meal, I expect Discover to have a more informed position on nutrition than saturated = bad, unsaturated = good.

  • http://www.well-informed-sources.com/links/supplementinfo.html Nilsa Yazzle

    Unprocessed coconut oil does smoke and smells badly and is not appropriate for cooking. Except for cooking, the positive aspects are related with this unprocessed – and maybe “organic” – coconut oil.


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