Many people mistake popcorn for junk food, but it can be a healthy snack depending on how it is prepared. Because it is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, many people use popcorn as a healthy substitute for empty-calorie snacks.
However, the method of popcorn preparation is critical to consuming popcorn as a healthy snack. Healthy popcorn can be made by air-popping or cooking it in a bit of avocado, walnut, or extra virgin olive oil.
Cooking popcorn in oil significantly impacts its fat content. For example, a cup of air-popped popcorn contains 31 calories, compared to 41 calories in a cup of oil-popped popcorn, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Regular popcorn with seasonings such as salt, cheese, butter, kettle popcorn, and gourmet popcorn has many more calories.