There are few snacks as tantalizing, seemingly addictive, and crave-worthy as a big bowl of crunchy popcorn topped with slightly salty white cheddar cheese powder.
It’s such a popular snack because it’s downright delicious, but is white cheddar popcorn healthy?
Is White Cheddar Smart Popcorn Good for You?
Smartfood white cheddar popcorn isn’t necessarily bad for you, but it’s not the healthiest popcorn snack, either. Added ingredients compromise the integrity of the popcorn as ‘healthy,’ such as vegetable oil and artificial flavors.
The white cheddar flavor is one of the healthiest ones you can buy.
Remember, though, just because it’s not a perfect food doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it from time to time. Keep it moderate and ensure the rest of your diet includes plenty of high-quality protein, vegetables, and healthy fats, and even these less-healthy versions of white cheddar popcorn can be a great addition to your diet.
After all, popcorn is a better snack than potato chips, right?
Healthy Components of White Cheddar Popcorn
This popcorn has some benefits that can be part of a healthy diet. Popcorn is a whole grain, so the underlying quality is always present. It also contains a healthy amount of fiber, which is good for digestion.
Plain popcorn is low in calories, which combines with the fiber content to create a filling snack without having to eat a ton of it. Even with the added cheese and oil, there are around 160 calories per 2 ½ cup serving, which isn’t too high to be enjoyed moderately without weight gain consequences to worry about (especially when eating popcorn at night).
Don’t forget about the antioxidants.
These basic nutritional features are present regardless of what your popcorn is topped with, so it can be done healthily. The key is to find a brand that doesn’t use cheap ingredients and unhealthy fillers. Remember to read the nutrition label, and avoid anything you can’t pronounce.
Unhealthy Components of White Cheddar Popcorn
Unfortunately, the unhealthy components outweigh the healthy ones. That doesn’t mean you should never indulge in a white cheddar popcorn snack, but you should approach it with caution and take care to keep your consumption moderate.
The unhealthy ingredients in Smartfood’s white cheddar popcorn (and most brands) include processed vegetable oil, added sugar, and artificial ingredients.
Processed oil is the biggest culprit, contributing empty calories and potential carcinogenic effects even in small quantities. The white cheddar flavor has only a small amount of added sugar, so it isn’t as much of a deterrent, but still something to be aware of, especially if you’re avoiding sugar. These ingredients can cause stomach issues and gas for some people.
The artificial ingredients are also concerning.
The white cheddar flavor isn’t as bad as others, though, because it doesn’t have artificial colorings or flavors. In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates Smartfood’s white cheddar popcorn with a score of 4.5 (1 is the best score, and 10 is the worst). This puts it closer towards healthy than unhealthy.
Are Any Types of White Cheddar Popcorn Good for You?
Making it from scratch is your best option if you want to indulge in white cheddar popcorn the most optimal way. You can pop the popcorn with healthy oils, such as avocado, coconut, or olive. Or you could use an air popper to forego the oil altogether.
Making it from home also means choosing the cheese powder.
This gives you more control over its healthiness. Plus, you can skip the added sugar. Making cheese popcorn from home ends in better flavor, too.
Don’t wanna make it from scratch?
Pre-popped is your next best bet. It’s typically made with less processed oils. It’s also usually lower in sodium and sugar compared to microwave popcorn. There are many reputable brands to choose from. Keep your eyes peeled to avoid highly processed oils (vegetable, canola, and safflower are some of the worst), and watch the sugar content to find a good one.
How Many Calories Are in a Whole Bag of White Cheddar Popcorn?
One serving of white cheddar popcorn typically has around 150 calories per serving (between 2-3 cups).
The size of the bag determines how many calories you’ll find in an entire bag. A normal-sized bag has about 2 ½ servings, or 6 ¼ cups total. This means an entire bag will ring in at a total of 350 calories.
They also sell smaller bags meant for a single snacking session. This convenient size carries only 100 calories.
Is White Cheddar Popcorn High in Fat?
Yes, white cheddar popcorn is high in fat.
Most varieties have around 10g of fat per serving. This is thanks to its dairy content and any additional fats added for flavor, such as vegetable oil. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid white cheddar popcorn, though. It’s high in fat but doesn’t have a lot of other negative health factors.
As long as it’s consumed in moderation, the high-fat content isn’t concerning as a small part of your diet.
To the extreme delight of snackers everywhere, white cheddar popcorn can be healthy.
Like most foods, there are healthy and unhealthy versions, so it comes down to what choice you make. Popping your popcorn from scratch and adding your well-chosen cheese powder is the healthiest option, followed by pre-popped brands you can purchase in a bag.
Microwave popcorn comes in last and should be avoided unless you can find a diamond in the rough that doesn’t use ultra-processed oils or too much salt and sugar.