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Which Commercial Popcorn Oil is Best to Use?
Among the many different options of popping oil available, which one is best? In general some popcorn oils are better for you, but the answer depends on a couple of different preferences. There are other types of oils that also work for popping popcorn, but all of them contain saturated and unsaturated fat percentages in the range set between coconut oil and canola oil. Other oils have other disadvantages that make them less suitable. Peanut oil, for example, has allergy concerns of which you would need to be aware. Olive oil and cottonseed oil can be quite a bit more expensive and taste funny, like something other than the classic popcorn taste that most people expect from their popcorn machine. Please consider the following.
- Types of Fat: First let's review nutritional value of common dietary fats. In most diets, there are 3 types of fats. Saturated Fats are bad fats, Polyunsaturated Fats (Omega Fatty Acids = good fats), and Monounsaturated fats (= good fats). It is easy to think of all fats as being bad for you, but some fats, like the Polyunsaturated fats, help promote brain health, for which reason some take fish oil supplements. The fats that your doctor worries most about are the saturated fats because they increase cholesterol levels and clog the arteries. The amount of each type of fat in each different type of oil determines how healthy that oil is for popping popcorn.
- Coconut Oil: For popping popcorn, Coconut Oil historically has been the most popular oil. With its smooth buttery taste, it is easy to use, and inexpensive to purchase. The disadvantage of coconut oil is the 92% saturated fat (=bad fat). If you treat popcorn as an occasional treat, this is not realistically a problem, but if adding coconut oil-popped corn to the everyday diet, coconut oil is a less healthy choice, despite being better tasting.
- Butter: Butter is readily available at home and tastes great. Butter is 69% saturated fats (bad fats) and is another detriment to health if you are adding significant amounts of it to the diet.
- Canola Oil: A mere 7% of the fat in canola oil is saturated fat, and it has great flavor and works well to pop popcorn. A whopping 93% is good fats. Because moviegoers, on track with the general population, have become more health conscious over the years, Canola oil has replaced coconut oil as the healthy popcorn popping oil at many theaters.