Is Popcorn Bad For Acid Reflux?

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Acid reflux requires a change in one’s lifestyle, and the food one consumes. When it comes to popcorn, it can be a healthy or unhealthy thing to eat, depending on how it’s made and what goes into it. Microwavable popcorn can be unhealthy due to chemicals and artificial flavoring added to it, and so is popcorn made with added flavor lots of salt or sugar. On the other hand, plain popcorn that’s unsweetened and air-popped can be a healthy snack to eat for people with acid reflux. 

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, acid reflux is quite a common issue troubling over 60 million Americans, where daily cases come about 15 million.

This issue leaves people with pain in the lower chest area and heartburn.

The biggest issue causing acid reflux most often comes down to the food you’re eating in your daily routine.

When it comes to dealing with acid reflux, your doctor will tell you to fix your eating habits and change your lifestyle choices for the better.

Although they’ll let you know what to eat or what not to, sometimes there’re certain food items we aren’t sure about. 

One such food item is popcorn. Although light in weight, you can become easily confused if it might cause acid reflux.

Is there a certain kind of popcorn you should avoid, or are all types of popcorn terrible for someone suffering from heartburn?

Acid reflux in general

A young man is touching his chest in pain due to acid reflux

Everyone enjoys a hamburger, french fries, some freshly baked oven pizza with soda.

With the kind of junk food available today in the world, the options are varied and plenty. So losing yourself in this food is easy but difficult to come out of until you’re faced with a health condition like acid reflux.

Acid reflux is caused when some of the acid content of the stomach flows up into the esophagus, into the gullet, which moves food down from the mouth. 

Your stomach contains hydrochloric acid, a strong acid that helps break down food and protect against pathogens such as bacteria.

The stomach lining is made in such a way to protect our stomach from the powerful acid, but unfortunately, our esophagus can’t handle this acid. 

The gastroesophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle, acts like a valve that lets food into the stomach but not backs up into the esophagus.

The stomach contents come up in the esophagus when this valve fails to work. 

Acid reflux causes heartburn, which gives you a burning sensation in the lower chest and esophagus, and the main culprit is the food you eat. 

Popcorn and acid reflux

Acid reflux is a nasty issue that can only be handled when you change your lifestyle, including the food you consume daily.

However yummy that chocolate shake might be, there’s a need to stop consuming any food which might cause you heartburn.

In the process of leaving unhealthy stuff behind, it’s easier to get confused regarding what to consume and what not to. 

Popcorn is one such thing people wonder if is any good for someone suffering from reflux.

The answer lies in the way one prepares this seemingly light-weighted non-harmful food item.

It can be healthy or unhealthy for you, depending on how it’s prepared. 

Benefits of popcorn for acid reflux

A bowl of home-popped popcorn is better for those with acid reflux, as it can help reduce inflammation

Whole grain food is one of the food items you should include in your diet that provides relief from heartburn.

Foods like whole-grain bread have benefits like reduced inflammation and a decreased risk of heart disease.

And popcorn also contains 15 grams of fiber, making it the world’s best fiber source and something that helps absorb stomach acid. 

Popcorn is also high in polyphenol antioxidants that have many health benefits.

Eating it results in better blood circulation, improved digestion, and a reduced risk of many diseases. 

So, as a whole, popcorn has many benefits that can help someone suffering from acid reflux.

But it depends on how you decide to make it.

As we know, there’re several different ways to make popcorn, but not every kind is good for you if you suffer from heartburn.

Dangers of microwaved popcorn

Microwave popcorn seems like the easiest way to make some and consume it because of how easy and efficient the whole process is.

But what you don’t know is that microwave bags are lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, which results in various health issues.

It might also contain diacetyl, a chemical found in artificial butter flavoring.

Animal studies show that breathing in this chemical can damage the airways and cause lung diseases. 

Many microwavable popcorns are made using hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, which are harmful trans fat. It can cause an increased risk of heart disease and other serious diseases.

The microwavable bags of popcorn might seemingly look harmless, but for someone suffering from stomach acid, it might not be such a good idea to consume. 

How adding toppings isn’t a good idea to your popcorn

Not just the microwave popcorn but the popcorn made with adding toppings like caramel and other flavors can turn the simple low calories food item into a high-calorie one.

Adding all these enhancing flavors to the popcorn is harmful to consume and can worsen your condition.

The worst kind would be from a movie theatre.

They sell all sorts of heavily buttered and flavored popcorns with unhealthy fats, artificial flavorings, and high amounts of sugar and salt.

This is all you need to avoid consuming as it will elevate your stomach acid.

Healthy popcorn to make at home

A young man is popping popcorn at home on the stovetop to enjoy the snack and prevent heartburn

Plain air-popped popcorn is all you should be eating if you want to eat them so much.

Even the buttered popcorn is unhealthy, so sticking to plain popcorn is the best decision, and they are low in calories and help absorb stomach acid.

These can be made on the stove or in an air-popper and is a good healthy option for when you want to snack.

It might seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually quite easy, and it is very inexpensive compared to buying microwave bags or from a theatre.

Things you need:

  • Three tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil which is a healthy fat. Don’t put butter. 
  • A pan with a stable lid
  • One cup popcorn kernels
  • ½ or one light spoon of salt. Add according to your taste.

How to make:

  • Put oil and kernel together in the pot and cover it with the lid.
  • Put the heat on medium level and leave it for 3 minutes. During this time, kernels would slowly start popping up.
  • When the popping sound has slowed down, remove the pot from the gas and carefully take the lid off.
  • You can use a little bit of salt to make it flavorful.

Popcorn can make a big difference in your health, depending on how it’s made.

As a person with heartburn, you might sometimes crave popcorn, so this is a healthy way to include it in your diet.

You can also make popcorn without using any oil. 

FAQs

Which foods help with acid reflux?

Foods that can relieve acid reflux symptoms and absorb stomach acid:

– Whole grain food such as popcorn, quinoa, or bread
– Ginger
Yellow mustard
– Fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, asparagus, broccoli, and green beans
– Yogurt
– Lean proteins such as chicken, seafood, tofu, and egg whites
– Legumes
– Nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts, chia, pomegranate, and flaxseeds
– Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, walnuts, and soy products

What foods should I avoid if I have acid reflux?

Foods that should be avoided in acid reflux include:

– Acidic foods such as acidic fruits include oranges, lemons, orange juice, lemonade, cranberries, and grapefruits.
– Spicy foods include chili powder, black pepper, mustard powder, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and mustard.
– Tomato-based food
– Fatty foods, junk food, or food that is fried and greasy.
– Chocolate 
– Onions
– Alcohol
– Coffee and caffeinated drinks
– Sodas and carbonated beverages

What should I eat at night to avoid acidity?

To avoid heartburn which leads to acid reflux, you need to divide your meals throughout the day into smaller portions.

Have smaller but frequent meals throughout the day instead of having large meals three or two times a day.

Keep your meals simple and light to avoid acidity from developing. In the evening especially avoid any high-calorie, fatty, or spicy meals.

Try to include food items in your routine which help with acid reflux in calming it down.

To summarize

Popcorn can be healthy or unhealthy for you, depending on how it’s made, and the preparation makes a big difference.

As a person suffering from acid reflux, you need to cut out many unhealthy things from your diet, but air-popped popcorn isn’t one of them.

When air-popped, unsweetened, and unsalted, popcorn is beneficial for your current health situation and has plenty of benefits.

It can also help in weight loss. But microwavable popcorn might not be a good idea and can be pretty unhealthy for you. So is popcorn made with butter, sugar, and salt! 

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Saumya Malik is an ardent follower of everything good for the health and wellness of body and mind. She's passionate about providing effective solutions to general health and mental well-being issues and wants to help people achieve the same. When not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book in a corner or cooking as a form of good mental therapy.
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