Can You Eat Popcorn While Pregnant? Is It Safe?

Can you eat popcorn while pregnant? In this post we find out if it's safe and tell you exactly what to stay away from.

Can You Eat Popcorn While Pregnant? Is It Safe?
By Ellen Fetters •  Updated: 17/05/22 •  4 min read

Once seen as a treat to enjoy while watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster, popcorn has evolved from a sugar ladened cinema staple to a healthy alternative to chips and candy. In this post, we look at if can you eat popcorn while pregnant.

You’re also going to learn more about the types of popcorn you can eat and the ones that you’ll really want to avoid for a number of reasons.

Let’s get started!

Can You Eat Popcorn While Pregnant? Is It Safe?

Can You Eat Popcorn While Pregnant?

Yes, you can eat popcorn while pregnant. High in fiber and low in calories, popcorn can make the ideal healthy snack. That said, you want to look out for those brands with little to no coating or salt as these aren’t ideal when eaten in large quantities due to the fat content.

What Popcorn Is Best During Pregnancy?

Without a doubt, the best popcorn to eat during pregnancy is homemade air-popped popcorn. Containing very little oil, it’s a fantastic source of fibre and wholegrains.

The worst type to eat is cinema style popcorn as this is usually covered in caramel making it high in sugar and fat which are best avoided during pregnancy.

Plain air-popped popcorn also makes for a great base to allow you to add your own toppings to.

Is Microwave Popcorn Safe to Eat in Pregnancy?

While the FDA currently regard microwave popcorn as safe to eat, there is a school of thought that advises caution due to the use of PFCs and Diacetyl.

Pre-2016, microwave popcorn bags were made using a greaseproof chemical called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) which prevented the popcorn coating seeping through the bag during the cooking process.

A 2013 study by Nicole Wendee titled PFOA and Cancer in a Highly Exposed Community: New Findings found the perfluorinated compounds break down when heated to form perfluorooctanoic acid, a compound that’s been linked to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, hypercholesterolemia, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

After the ban, manufacturers have moved to use a new version of PFCs which are currently deemed safe.

Microwave popcorn also contains traces of Diacetyl, a chemical used to create the flavor which has been linked to lung cancer.

While safe in small doses, long term exposure has been linked to health problems.

For those reasons above, you might want to avoid microwave popcorn during pregnancy, especially when air-popped is so tasty!

Is Cinema / Movie Theater Popcorn Safe For Pregnant Women?

So long as there are no other harmful ingredients used for coatings then cinema style popcorn is fine to eat. That said, before you start wolfing down buckets of the stuff you need to understand the calorie content.

Movie theater popcorn, while delicious, is packed full of calories, fat and in the case of savory, packed full of salt.

Ultimately though, a moderate serving of movie style popcorn every now and then isn’t going to do you any harm.

Is Popcorn Good for Morning Sickness?

Yes, some women do find slightly salted air-popped popcorn to be helpful in treating morning sickness.

Can I Eat Popcorn With Gestational Diabetes?

Popcorn is a low GI, low calorie, high fiber snack which makes it an option for those with gestational diabetes. However, you still need to take care not to over do it due to the carbohydrate content.

Again, stick to air popped popcorn and avoid both cinema and microwave as these are often high in sugar which is obviously a big no-no.

The Bottom Line

So can you eat popcorn while pregnant? Absolutely, so long as you try and stick to air popped popcorn and avoid the more unhealthy cinema and microwave styles.

Ellen Fetters

Ellen Fetters, is a former Children's and Young People's Nursing Practice with an BSc from the University of Sunderland. After completing her SCPHN - HV she then worked as a Health Visitor within the local community.

In 2017 Ellen left nursing to launch Parenting Click, an online parenting resource aimed at creating happier families through better parenting.

She lives with her husband, beautiful baby girl, and two darling dogs. She spends her free time writing, running and learning how to become a better parent.