Difference Between Air Popped Popcorn & Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn is a snack widely eaten in movie theatres across America and enjoyed as a snack at home, during work and travel. Air-popped and microwave popcorn is often a staple with people who are dieting, as it is a filling, yet low-calorie snack. Although both kinds are healthy for you, they each have advantages and disadvantages.


Street vendors set up at locations where crowds would gather from the 1890s until the Great Depression. After the depression, popcorn was considered one of the few affordable luxuries. The use of gas or steam powered poppers was common. These days most people enjoy popcorn on a regular basis because it is portable, low calorie and delicious.


Each kernel of popping corn surrounds a tiny drop of water. When heated through microwaving, heating with hot oil or air, the water expands until it causes the kernel to pop open, resulting in a fluffy white tasty morsel.


Popping the popcorn kernels by machines blowing hot air became popular in the 1970s, while popping the kernels in individuals bags in the microwave started in the 1980s, according to the Popcorn website. One cup of air-popped popcorn has 31 calories, while oil-popped versions such as microwave or hob cooking have 55 calories, according to the Hot Popcorn Poppers website.


While air popping the popcorn does result in fewer calories, the machines typically contain a tray where you can melt butter to flavour it. Some people feel that air popping leaves the popcorn dry and tasteless, so they dress it up with high calorie flavourings, thus defeating the purpose of air popping. Microwaving popcorn is quick and convenient, yet many of the kernels remain unpopped. If you do not keep an eye on the microwaveable package, the popcorn can burn quickly and leave a foul odour in the room for several hours.


Popcorn is a whole grain snack and high in fibre. If you do not get enough fibre in your diet, eating a lot of popcorn in one sitting may lead to temporary gastrointestinal discomfort. Popcorn is a low calorie, low sugar and fat free snack if you do not add many flavourings, such as butter or sugary toppings.

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About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.