You Should Never Eat Another Bag Of Microwavable Popcorn. Nutritionist Explains Why.

You're snuggled up on the couch, ready for a night of TV binging, and on your lap, you're holding a massive bowl of microwave popcorn. Few things are better than the aroma and crunch of hot, just-popped popcorn. Remote in hand, ready to roll, fingers slick with butter. Better press that pause button, though — it's time to rethink your snack option. 

Sure, popcorn is a whole grain food that's high in fiber, low in fat, and richer in free radical-fighting polyphenols that some vegetables (via Popcorn Board). And nothing beats the convenience of nuking a bag and, two minutes later, enjoying the salty, puffy crunch of toasty corn kernels. In fact, popcorn might be the world's most perfect snack. But it's not just popcorn you'll be inhaling during the show. According to the CDC, there's a chemical or two in that bag that may leave you breathless. Perhaps it's not so perfect after all. 

It's called popcorn lung for a reason

Seems there's a chemical in microwavable popcorn called diacetyl, and it's what gives the kernels their signature buttery goodness. Diacetyl isn't unhealthy when consumed the normal way, like through food (via Nutrition Action). It's actually found in butter, cheese, yogurt, and wine. It's when you inhale diacetyl that causes problems.

And we're not talking about inhaling your food in the figurative sense, which would be apropos on TV binging night. We're talking about actually breathing in the vapors coming from the microwave and that steaming bag of freshly-popped kernels. According to studies conducted by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, inhaling diacetyl causes scarring of the tiny air sacs in your lungs, which leads to narrowing of the airways and difficulty breathing. This respiratory distress isn't over when the popcorn bag is empty, either. This is a serious, irreversible lung disease that triggers shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and other symptoms similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A delicious snack may take your breath away, but it shouldn't leave you gasping for air.

The good news is, manufacturers got the memo, and many stopped using diacetyl as a flavoring agent. What did they replace it with? Real butter you say? No, try 2,3-Pentandedione, a substance also linked to lung toxicity. One chemical out, another one in. What happened to good old fashioned butter and salt?

The solution? Make your own full-proof popcorn, which is just as fast and easy as zapping a microwavable bag. You'll reap the benefits of this super-nutritious, whole-grain snack, and you'll breathe easier knowing you made a healthy choice.