Many treats are taken from us after being diagnosed with a fatty liver, but is popcorn one of them? We’ll learn in today’s article whether or not you should eat popcorn if you have a fatty liver disease.
Giving a simple, straightforward answer is not very easy, as there are many things to consider when deciding if popcorn is safe for a fatty liver: some is, but some types should be avoided.
But after reading today’s article, you will know everything about this tasty snack, and be able to decide if you could have it or not if you have a fatty liver… and how much of it should you have.
If you just want the summary – although I recommend going through the entire article – here is what you should know.
You should avoid eating popcorn if you have a fatty liver disease. Microwave popcorn comes packed with unhealthy fats and other chemicals, while home made, plain popcorn still has a high amount of carbs that make it a less than ideal snack.
With these in mind, let’s see what are the pros and cons of eating popcorn and especially the things you have to take into consideration when deciding if you should snack on it (or not).
Potential benefits of Popcorn for fatty liver
We’ll start with the good news first! Popcorn is a whole grain with tons of nutrients that our body needs. It’s somewhat similar to rice or other grains.
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits that you get from eating 100 grams of popcorn, including 30% of the daily recommended dose of Magnesium, 16% Iron, as well as nice amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium and Fiber.
Fiber is extremely important for all people and most of us are getting low amounts of it, leading to constipation and other problems, while Iron is extremely important especially for those who have a diet that excludes meat.
There are tons of carbs here as well (we’ll go more in depth about this in the Cons section below).
Apart from the clear benefits coming from the high nutritional value of popcorn, we have an article published on Lybrate where their experts list even more benefits of eating popcorn.
One of the most surprising for most might be the fact that it actually controls blood sugar levels (because of the high fiber content, meaning that the carbs are released slower), but can also reduce cholesterol, is rich in antioxidants and improves digestive health.
Of course, this is just part of the whole and it’s not all perfect when it comes to eating popcorn, especially if you have a fatty liver. We’ll talk about these next.
Cons of popcorn for fatty liver
The first thing that we should have in mind when thinking about popcorn is that it has a lot of carbs, which turn into sugar, and we need to eat as little sugar as possible when working to reverse a fatty liver.
This is by far the biggest concern, no matter which type of popcorn you’re planning to use. But it can get much worse if you’re not making the correct choices!
And the biggest problem here is the popcorn most of us eat: that coming in bags with various flavors and toppings, that we prepare in the microwave.
According to Dr. Axe, there are many dangerous chemicals used in manufacturing the bags of microwave popcorn, chemicals that end up in our bodies, doing us harm and especially harming the liver.
But it’s not these chemicals alone that do all those bad things! All the flavors and fats that those popcorn bags are full of turn it into a caloric bomb: high in fats, salt and even added sugars, making a somewhat safe snack extremely dangerous, especially for those who already suffer from a fatty liver disease.
In the end, it’s safe to say that all popcorn that we don’t prepare at home ourselves using a minimum number of ingredients (ideally just corn kernels and maybe a bit of salt or pepper) can be considered unhealthy and not recommended if you have NAFLD.
There might be some products out there that are just as safe, but they are not common, so make sure to read the label and the ingredients if you’re planning to buy a bag for your microwave – or ready made popcorn.
If you’re wondering about other foods also, I have written in depth articles for plenty of them. For example, one recent article tells you if you should eat oranges with a fatty liver disease or not.
Can you eat popcorn with a fatty liver disease?
So… can you have this as a snack if you have NAFLD? As you probably understood from reading the Pros and Cons above, it’s best to stay away from most popcorn for sure.
Those microwave bags or movie theater popcorn or anything that’s made of more than just the corn kernels should be considered completely out of question because of all the chemicals, additives and extra fats (and sometimes extra sugars).
But if you do want to snack on some popcorn, you can definitely do so if you buy plain corn kernels (ideally organic) and prepare them at home, popping them in the microwave or in a pan and only adding a bit of salt, garlic powder or pepper on top.
This way, you get all the benefits, without added nasties. But even so, don’t make it a habit of snacking on popcorn because 100 grams still have a lot of calories and a ton of sugar – two things we have to stay away from when trying to reverse our fatty liver.
In my case, for example, I kept away from popcorn for the first 6 months into my diet, which was enough for my body to start reversing the fatty liver and get better (of course, because of the diet I was following and not just because I didn’t eat popcorn).
Afterwards, I allowed myself to have some popcorn every now and then, but probably just a few handfuls every month or so.
I did reverse my fatty liver, so having a bit of it – as long as you eat the plan popcorn – shouldn’t influence the results of your quest to reverse your fatty liver.
You might be able to do well even if you consume it a bit more often than I did (I wouldn’t recommend more than once per week, keeping a close eye on your calories and carbs!) as long as you eat a balanced, healthy diet for NAFLD and exercise and, of course, only eat a small amount (25 grams before popping should be enough!)
With a few sacrifices, you can keep this delicious snack as part of your diet – but you’re better with simply skipping it altogether.
It’s not the end of the world if you prepare some yourself from plain corn kernels and have it every now and then as a treat or a reward, but definitely don’t make it a habit. There are other, better, snack ideas for fatty liver out there.
I was diagnosed with a fatty liver back in 2014 and managed to reverse it by mid-2015. Since then, I’ve been studying it, continuously updating my knowledge with the latest scientific findings and practical approaches to give others the help they need to reverse their condition.
My approach to managing fatty liver is holistic, balancing scientifically-backed information with real-life, practical advice based on personal, direct experience.
I am also the admin of the Fatty Liver Support Group on Facebook and the Fatty Liver Subreddit.