While most of us can kick back and relax with a stash of popcorn and a great movie at the end of a hard day, others can’t. Young children and individuals with dental implants are just two groups of people that should avoid popcorn.
For some, popcorn can be a choking hazard, others find it causes gastrointestinal issues, and some people need to think carefully about the variety of popcorn they choose to eat for the sake of their health.
Let’s look in more detail at who should not eat popcorn and why. You’ll also find out what popcorn needs to be avoided by people with certain medical conditions.
Who Shouldn’t Eat Popcorn?
The following groups of people shouldn’t popcorn of any type:
- Children under the age of 4
- People with dental implants
- People with significant tooth loss
- People with colitis or Crohn’s disease
- People with dysphagia
Other people can eat plain, air-popped popcorn but need to be careful about eating popcorn with unhealthy flavorings and toppings. These individuals include those with:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
Why Can’t Children Eat Popcorn?
It’s safe for children to eat popcorn from around the age of 4 years. Before this age, popcorn is a choking hazard.
Popcorn is small and chewy. Young children have small mouths, immature chewing capabilities, and not enough molars to be able to chew and swallow popcorn safely.
Can Popcorn Affect Dental Implants?
Yes, eating popcorn can affect dental implants. You shouldn’t eat anything that’s a seed when you have dental implants, and this includes popcorn.
Popcorn has an annoying habit of getting stuck between the teeth and this can damage any implants that you have. If you accidentally chew on an unpopped kernel, it could damage or break your dental implant. This is the last thing you want after spending between $1,500 and $2,000 per implant.
Can You Eat Popcorn With Tooth Loss?
If you’ve lost one or two teeth, then it’s generally okay to eat popcorn. But if you have substantial tooth loss caused by things such as medication, age, or a medical condition, it may be dangerous to eat popcorn.
Popcorn needs to be chewed thoroughly before being swallowed, which is difficult if you’re missing teeth. There’s also a greater risk that you’ll swallow popcorn kernels whole, which can lead to a condition called Bezoar. Bezoar is when a ball of popcorn kernels forms in the intestinal tract.
Treatment options for Bezoar include:
- Endoscopic removal
- Laparotomy surgery
- Laparoscopic surgery
Can People With Colitis & Crohn’s Disease Eat Popcorn?
It’s not advisable for people with colitis or Crohn’s disease to eat popcorn. These conditions make it difficult to digest popcorn. If you have either of these conditions and eat popcorn, you may experience the following problems:
- Stomach cramps
- Reduced appetite
- Obstruction of the lower intestine
Is it Dangerous To Eat Popcorn With Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is a common condition that affects 1 in 6 adults in the U.S. This condition makes it difficult to swallow food and drink. Popcorn is listed as a difficult food for people with dysphagia to eat by the GI Society.
As popcorn needs to be chewed well to avoid choking, it should be avoided by people with dysphagia. Instead, they should follow a dysphagia soft diet, which typically includes foods, such as:
- Soft, cooked vegetables
- Soft, mashed fruit
- Mashed potato
- Pasta in sauce
- Soft bread products
- Peanut butter
- Canned boneless fish
Can People with High Blood Pressure Eat Popcorn?
People with high blood pressure shouldn’t eat some types of popcorn. It’s popcorn covered in unhealthy flavorings, such as salt and butter that are the real problem when you have high blood pressure.
Salt can increase blood pressure which is why it’s recommended that sodium consumption is limited to 2,300 mg or less per day.
Butter is the only dairy product that scientists have found causes high blood pressure. This is likely to be because butter is packed full of calories and fat, which are known to raise blood pressure levels. For this reason, people with high blood pressure should not eat popcorn covered in butter.
Thankfully, people with high blood pressure can eat some types of popcorn. Plain, air-popped popcorn is recommended. It can even be good for your blood pressure as popcorn has been found to lower it.
Is It Okay to Eat Popcorn With High Cholesterol?
If you’ve got high cholesterol, like 38% of the nation, then you need to steer clear of salted or buttered popcorn. Both of these popcorn flavorings can raise cholesterol levels. Butter is particularly bad as it increases bad cholesterol levels.
The good news, though, is that you can eat plain popcorn, and it can even lower your cholesterol levels. Grains and fiber can both lower cholesterol levels. Popcorn is made solely from corn which is a grain, and it contains a high amount of fiber, so it could benefit your cholesterol levels.
Is Popcorn Safe for Diabetics?
You should not eat some types of popcorn if you’ve got diabetes. Popular popcorn flavorings that often need to be avoided by people with diabetes include:
Popcorn is okay for diabetics if a plain, air-popped variety is eaten in moderation.
Is Popcorn Bad When You’ve Got Heart Disease?
People with heart disease shouldn’t eat popcorn that’s laden with salt, sugar, or butter. This is because excess fat, too much sodium, and overloading on sugar can make heart disease worse.
Microwavable popcorn bags are also a problem for people with heart disease. Research has found that the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that lines the packets of microwavable popcorn can cause heart disease.
Don’t worry if you can’t give up popcorn altogether, as plain, air-popped popcorn is perfectly fine to eat when you’ve got heart disease.
It’s hard to imagine not being able to eat popcorn. But for some people, eating popcorn can be dangerous. So, if you’re ever in any doubt as to whether you or someone you know can eat popcorn, make sure you come back to this guide to find out.
Curious to know if popcorn is vegan?