Is It Bad To Eat Popcorn Kernels? Find Out Here

Popcorn is a healthy snack with lots of benefits. Its kernels are whole grains that are rich in fiber, full of antioxidants, and low in calories. Relishing a bowl of hot popcorn can be a blissful experience but is it okay to eat those unpopped kernels?

Unpopped kernels are hard, and eating them can make your teeth crack and break. It’s best to refrain from eating them especially if you don’t want to risk spending so much on crowning cracked teeth.

Read along as I discuss why you shouldn’t eat popcorn kernels, the health benefits, and more in this article.

Is popcorn healthy?

Popcorn can be either healthy or unhealthy. It depends on the amount and type of ingredients used in making them.

Most of the popcorn sold in movie cinemas contains unhealthy oils, food dyes, artificial butter, and so much salt. Research shows that a medium-sized movie theater popcorn can contain as much as 1000 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat.

Microwave popcorn also includes artificial coloring, flavor, oil, and preservatives which makes it unhealthy for consumption.

The safest varieties are the stove-top and air-popped popcorn. They are made with fresh, natural kernels. These whole grains are full of nutrients because their bran and germ have not been removed.

A big-sized stove-top or air-popped popcorn contains only about 31 calories and less than 2 milligrams of sodium.

The process of making them requires little oil and you can substitute cinnamon or coconut oil for vegetable oil in your recipe as they provide healthy fat for the body.

Moreso, you can decide to eat it directly without seasoning. If you have a sweet tooth, you can add a little salt to taste or even go further to top with dried dill, onion powder, grated lemon, etc.

There’s no boundary to popcorn recipes as long as the ingredients are beneficial to your health.

Is eating popcorn kernels bad for your health?

Popcorn kernels are an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants. They are low in fat and sugar-free. So, eating popcorn kernels isn’t risky for your health. It will simply pass through your body and come out as poop.

However, people who have diverticulitis or GI diseases should avoid eating popcorn because it takes longer to digest.

Furthermore, unpopped popcorn kernels can crack and break your teeth especially if you eat a lot of them. It’s also impossible to eat popcorn without having some stuck in your teeth, and this creates lactic acid in your mouth.

While it’s possible to take out the tiny husk that sticks to your teeth by flossing, there may be stubborn residuals that can cause infection or abscess.

To reduce the risk of popcorn causing some harm to your teeth, make sure to floss healthily until you remove all the husk hanging in your teeth. Also, pick your teeth immediately with a toothpick and rinse with water often.

Be careful when feeding popcorn to kids also. Children below the age of 5 are at risk of choking on popcorn kernels. Since they have milk teeth, they shouldn’t be allowed to eat popcorn kernels to avoid broken or cracked teeth.

What’s most risky is swallowing unpopped kernels as it can cause stomach bezoar which may or may not need surgery to take out, depending on the size of the kernel.

Does popcorn digest easily?

Popcorn kernels are surrounded by a pericarp, a tough outer shell that makes them pop. The pericarp contains germs that are adjacent to the endosperm.

The endosperm contains trapped water as well as soft and hard starch granules which serve as food when the germs sprout. The endosperm is that part of popcorn that is digestible while the pericarp or external skin isn’t digestible.

This is because it contains cellulose which the human body lacks the bacteria to digest. Instead, we excrete the pericarp as poop out of the body.

Health benefits of eating popcorn kernels

Below are the nutritional benefits of popcorn:

1. Unprocessed food

Popcorn kernels are unprocessed whole grains. They have their bran and germ intact and retain so many nutrients compared to refined grains.

Like oats, rice, wheat, and barley, popcorn kernels contain a high level of fiber, as well as protein, minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats which makes it safe for everyone including diabetics.

2. Aid metabolism and reduces constipation

Eating more dietary fiber helps to promote regular bowel movements. It adds bulk to stool and softens it so it’s easy to pass. This way there’s less risk of constipation.

Since fiber absorbs water and stool size and weight, it also helps to solidify loose, watery stools.

3. Controlling blood sugar

Food with high fiber is highly recommended for those with diabetes. Popcorn contains 13 grams of dietary fiber.

Fiber is slow to digest. This way it reduces the absorption of sugar and insulin conversion which helps to regulate the blood sugar level.

4. Protein and vitamin source

Popcorn contains a high amount of protein which aids blood clotting, fluid balance, immune response, and so much more. The protein content in popcorn is over 3 grams in a serving.

Popcorn also has minerals and vitamins like calcium, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin K. This help to improve bone and eye health.

5. Weight loss

Stovetop or air-popped popcorns have less fat, sugar, and calories. Coupled with their high fiber content, they are an excellent food choice for those who want to shed some weight.

Apart from regular physical exercises, people looking to lose weight need to cut the calories they consume daily as part of their dieting.

You can include popcorn in your diet as a whole-grain option. However, settle for unsalted or reasonably salted, unsweetened popcorn as salted and seasoned popcorn can cause weight gain.

More importantly, do not eat microwave popcorn or movie theater popcorn if you’re controlling your weight because they contain unhealthy oil, fat, sugar, color, and flavor.


Is it bad to eat popcorn every day?

Eating popcorn frequently can harm your teeth, especially if you love to crack unpopped kernels.

Why is popcorn in your poop?

It’s not strange to find popcorn kernels in your poop because its pericarp contains cellulose that our body cannot break down.

How long does it take to digest popcorn kernels?

If your bowels function properly, it takes between 24 to 36 hours for popcorn kernels to complete the digestive phase in our system.


There are a lot of benefits derived from eating popcorn. This snack is low in calories and sugar, but rich in fiber. But even at that, it’s not advisable to eat popcorn kernels because they can crack or break your teeth.

Popcorn also sticks to the teeth and failing to clean them out can cause infection and abscess. To avoid any infection, ensure that you floss properly, rinse your mouth with water, and use a toothpick to take out the tiny bit of popcorn stuck in your teeth.

Additionally, don’t be surprised to see pieces of the kernel in your poop. Popcorn’s external body is an insoluble fiber with cellulose that is not digestible for humans.

I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.

Get information about the nutritional value of different food items on Millenora.