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The Evils of Movie Theater Popcorn

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In anticipation of summer blockbusters many of us around the United States are ready to head to the movies. Many Americans associate a trip to the movies with popcorn, candy, and a soda but you might think twice about ordering the bucket and a large soda (for only $0.75 more) after reading what that delicious flavor is all about.

The New York Times Health column highlighted this delectable treat this week but may have ruined our enjoyment of it for years to come. The column starts:

“Sitting in a dark movie theater with your friends and a tub of buttery popcorn sounds like a perfect way to spend a Saturday night – and it could be, if you are willing to share your popcorn with the entire row of moviegoers around you.”

I don’t like sharing, especially when it comes to my popcorn during the movie but it might be the one thing that will save from the high salt, caloric, and cholesterol intake I may be ingesting with each handful. To break this down we’ll measure this out with the most excessive portion, the bucket, leaving us to feel less guilty about ordering a smaller portion.

A bucket of popcorn at the movie theaters is equivalent to 20 cups. This monstrosity of a portion contains 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat. The sodium content alone is enough to steer many of us away at 960 milligrams. Much of these components exist from the oil that the popcorn is cooked in, coconut oil, which alone is 90 percent saturated fat.

The statistics for a small, medium, or large serving are not too far off but most movie theaters will happily oblige to popping a batch of popcorn salt free for you, cutting out most of the sodium. In general though, the concession stand may need to be avoided altogether and a bottle of water and a bag of nuts hidden in your purse may curb those cravings just fine.

With most things, quantity control is the most important. Depriving yourself of your favorite snack may only ruin your movie going experience and the initial smell of the popcorn as you park the car and head into the theater will only taunt you through the previews and beyond.

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HERWriter Guide

Great article, Kellen!

I don't get to the movies often but boy - the smell of that popcorn is fabulous! I do have to gasp at the size of the buckets though! And people buy them as individual 'snacks' - not for their group! That and a giant soda is enough for anyone to need to be rolled from the theater like Violet Beauregarde!

I think the very shared occasional bucket is ok for a treat but not for those who love to head to the movies on a weekly or monthly basis.

We're sneakers too. We sneak in packets of raisins, water and two vanilla wafers each!

May 12, 2010 - 2:01pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi there!

Thanks for the great article. One way I've been able to limit my intake of delicious but monstrously-bad for you movie theatre popcorn is by making it myself at home! It's pretty simple, and if you substitute canola oil for coconut oil, and control the salt, you can make yourself a relatively healthy (remember, relatively!) compared to that tub you might get at the theatre. Plus, it costs pennies on the dollar! I've been experimenting with this for a long time, because popcorn is my achilles heel, but I've been pretty sucessful and am sharing my secrets far and wide: http://www.sincerelymab.com/information/2010/05/06/secret-movie-theatre-popcorn-home

Thanks for this great info though.

May 12, 2010 - 1:17pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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