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Is Smartfood Popcorn Healthy?
Nutrition

Is Smartfood Popcorn Healthy?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on November 8, 2022
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6 min

Nutritional analysis of one of the all-time classic snacks that have always been part of movie nights.

Is Smartfood popcorn healthy
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For the sake of our health, it is convenient to be smart when choosing our snacks, especially if you are on a weight loss diet.

Popcorn is one of those quick-to-make options that meet the characteristics of a good treat: crunchy, fluffy, and with a great variety of possible flavors and combinations.

Is it possible to consider this popular brand as part of your daily diet?

At Health Reporter, we don’t want to leave room for doubt on this topic; thus, we bring you a detailed review of this crispy experience.

What Is Smartfood Popcorn?

Smartfood is a Frito-Lay brand that offers a variety of ready-to-eat flavored air-popped popcorn.

Among its flavors are savory options with butter or white cheddar, some with a hint of spiciness, and others with the well-known caramel and cheddar blend.

Is Smartfood Popcorn Healthy?

No, despite corn being a whole grain, Smartfood popcorn is not a healthy snack. This is because it contains high-calorie ingredients, such as sugar, corn syrup, cheese, and different types of oils.

One of its most common flavors is a cheddar and caramel mix, which despite being prepared without artificial flavors as stated on the product label, does contain artificial colorings, such as yellow 5, linked to health problems related to allergies and intolerances. In addition, this specific version contains 3g of saturated fat.

Claims that this type of popcorn is healthy probably come from the fact that they are air-popped, which means they are cooked with hot air. This takes away calories compared to the traditional homemade oil-popped form.

However, the Smartfood brand offers a low-calorie option that only contains sea salt. Therefore, if you have to choose one, this type of popcorn is the least harmful even though it also contains saturated fat, canola, sunflower, and corn oil.

How Is Smartfood Popcorn Made?

Smartfood popcorn is made using corn kernels, which are cooked in hot air until they open their “wings” in the same way that microwave popcorn is popped.

The popcorn obtained is mixed with different oils and natural flavors depending on the presentation, which can be whey, parmesan cheese, corn syrup, butter, sugar, artificial coloring, and different types of vegetable oils. 

In fact, although no oil is used to pop the corn kernels, they use oil and butter to elaborate the different flavors of each type of Smartfood popcorn available. Ingredients such as cheese and butter used in some versions add saturated fat and salt.

What Types of Smartfood Popcorn Are Available?

Smartfood popcorn comes in snack-size and larger party-size presentations containing approximately 10 servings per package.

The available flavors of these snacks are:

  • White Cheddar
  • Sea Salt
  • Caramel Cheddar Mix
  • Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar
  • Movie Theater Butter
  • Sweet-Salty Kettle Corn

What Ingredients Does Smartfood Popcorn Contain?

Each variety has a particular flavor, Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn is one of the most recognized and consumed by its fans, and Sea Salt is the one with the simplest recipe.

Smartfood Popcorn FlavorIngredients
White CheddarPopcorn, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), whey, buttermilk, natural flavor, and salt.
Caramel Cheddar MixCaramel Popcorn: butter (cream, salt), corn syrup, popcorn, sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), salt, and sunflower lecithin.
Cheddar Cheese Flavored Popcorn: popcorn, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), maltodextrin (made from corn), whey, salt, cheddar cheese (cultured milk, salt, enzymes), buttermilk, artificial color (yellow 5, yellow 6), natural flavors, sugar, Parmesan cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), butter (cream, annatto), gum acacia, paprika, and guar gum.
Sweet and Salty Kettle CornSugar, popcorn, canola oil, corn syrup, salt, soy lecithin, caramel color, natural flavors, rosemary extract, and ascorbic acid.
Sea SaltPopcorn, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), and sea salt.

How Much Sugar Does Smartfood Popcorn Contain?

The sugar content is the amount of sugar added to the recipe of each variation, and the Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn has the highest sugar content because it is a sweet variety.

Not to be confused with the amount of carbohydrates in each package since the main ingredient, which is whole corn kernels, provides mostly carbs. For example, the Sea Salt package contains no sugar but has 17g of carbohydrates per serving.

The Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn edition contains the highest amount of sugar, with 12g per serving.

Smartfood Popcorn FlavorSugar Content per Serving Size (28g)
White Cheddar2g
Caramel Cheddar Mix6g
Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn12g
Sea Salt0g

How Many Calories Does Smartfood Popcorn Contain?

The serving size varies according to the packaging. For example, in the party-size packaging of the White Cheddar version, the serving is 28g, which is approximately 2.5 cups. That amount corresponds to 160 calories.

They also offer a small 14.1g presentation, which is approximately 1 cup and contains only 70 calories.

All flavors come in both presentations.

Smartfood Popcorn FlavorCalories (Serving size 28g)
White Cheddar160
Caramel Cheddar Mix140
Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn 140
Sea Salt140

Is Smartfood Popcorn Healthier Than Chips?

When you compare packaged popcorn with commercial chips, the question isn’t which is healthier but which is less harmful. We have chosen the Pringles brand chips to compare their Original flavor with the Sea Salt version of Smartfood Popcorn.

We noted that both products have unhealthy ingredients and are loaded with calories and salt. The table below shows the comparison of the nutrients in a 28g serving of each snack.

Smartfood Popcorn Sea SaltPringles Original
Ingredients: popcorn, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), and sea salt.Ingredients: dried potatoes, vegetable oil (corn, cottonseed, high oleic oil), degerminated yellow corn, cornstarch, rice flour, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, salt, wheat starch.
Contains 7g of fat, of which 1g is saturated fat.Contains 9g of fat, of which 2g is saturated fat.
Carbs 17gCarbs 16g
Sugar 0gSugar 0g
Fiber 3gFiber <1g
Sodium 150mgSodium 150mg
Protein 3gProtein 1g

We tried to be fair by selecting the more basic version of each product for comparison. At first glance, you might say that Pringles chips are more unhealthy because they contain more fat, less fiber, and less protein.

However, Smartfood popcorn contains a mixture of refined oils that may contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

On the other hand, Pringles, in addition to containing different refined oils, also contains maltodextrin, a sugar substitute additive that is associated with intestinal inflammation.

If you are looking to lose weight, neither product is recommended. If you want to know better options for other snack foods, we would recommend the DoFasting app, where you will find +5,000 recipes, progress tracking, fasting schedules, motivation, and many more features.

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FAQs

Is Smartfood popcorn good for weight loss?

No, all Smartfood popcorn variations contain ingredients that can sabotage weight loss, such as refined oils, sugar, and salt.

Is Smartfood popcorn fattening?

Yes, if you regularly consume Smartfood air-popped popcorn, you may gain weight due to its high content of refined oils and saturated fat.

Is Smartfood popcorn good or bad for you?

Smartfood popcorn is not a healthy food because most variations are high in calories. However, in a balanced diet, you could indulge in an occasional serving.

Does Smartfood popcorn contain additives?

Yes, some Smartfood popcorn variations contain artificial colors, including yellow 5, which is associated with allergic reactions.

Is Smartfood popcorn vegetarian?

Yes, all Smartfood popcorn variations are plant-based and are, therefore, suitable for vegetarians. However, it should be noted that it contains dairy, as some vegetarians may limit/avoid its consumption.

Can you have Smartfood popcorn on keto?

No, Smartfood popcorn contains a high amount of carbohydrates. Therefore, it is not suitable for use on a ketogenic diet.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Popcorn is a light, high-fiber snack as long as it is properly made at home. It can be cooked in a covered pot using a bit of olive oil for a snack rich in healthy fats.

One way to make it lighter is by using an air-popped popcorn machine or by using the microwave. In the microwave, they should be made by inserting the corn kernels inside a paper bag folded. That way, you also control the amount of salt.

Pre-packaged microwave popcorn should be avoided as they contain a large salt content, additives, and 14.6g of saturated fat.

Conclusion

If you are on a weight loss diet, you should avoid Smartfood popcorn as much as microwave popcorn since both are high in saturated fat and salt.

One of their sweet versions, Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn, has a significantly high amount of sugar at 12g per serving.

The best thing to do is to look for other snack foods, such as nuts, as they contain good fats and fiber and are, therefore, healthier, plus they have the same satisfying crunch as popcorn.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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