Is Kettle Corn Healthy?

  • Author: Sue Dorrens
  • Published: November 9, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Craving something salty and sweet while wondering…is kettle corn healthy?

These delicious little tender kernels are a satisfying snack for many people. While kettle corn does have more sugar than regular popcorn, there are still a lot of benefits to the snack.

What Are the Benefits of Kettle Corn?

There are benefits of kettle corn, especially when compared to other (more unhealthy) snacks or regular buttered popcorn. It can make for a healthy snack choice, even if you want to watch your sugar intake.

Kettle corn may even be healthier than regular popcorn, depending on what health factors you’re gravitating towards. If you’re watching the fat content or cholesterol, kettle corn is much better because it doesn’t contain so much fat and sodium.

You can dig deeper into that with our kettle corn vs. popcorn comparison.

Keep in mind moderation is key. These benefits negate themselves when over-consumed. A healthy snack is a moderate snack, especially with something such as kettle corn that contains sugar.

Nutritional Content of Kettle Corn

Kettle corn might have a good amount of sugar, but the base ingredient (popcorn) is relatively healthy at its core. Popcorn contains fiber, essential for good gut health, polyphenols, B vitamins, and manganese.

Kettle Corn – Serving size 1 cup (18g)
Calories98
Fat5.8g
Cholesterol0mg
Sodium0.4mg
Potassium24mg
Carbohydrates11g
Protein1g
Nutritional value Kettle Corn

Popcorn is a low-calorie snack so it can be a healthy part of most diets. Even with kettle corn’s added sugar, it still has better nutrition and fewer additives than other packaged snacks on store shelves.

Filling Snack (Thanks, Fiber!)

Kettle corn makes a great snack thanks to its fiber content. Just a regular-sized serving could keep you full for a while, unlike other snacks that don’t bridge the gap nicely between meals. This is beneficial if you’re trying to restrict calories or avoid over-eating.

Sweet Tooth Satisfaction

Kettle corn is an excellent way to satisfy your sweet tooth without getting too much sugar (like an entire tray of Oreos or a bag of donuts). It contains sugar and tastes sweet, so it has that effect without a whole sugar surge and crash. This is much better for your health than snacking on dessert foods.

Is There a Lot of Sugar in Kettle Corn?

making kettle corn
Making kettle corn

Generally, yes, there is a lot of sugar in kettle corn.

That said, it depends on whether you’re reaching for microwave popcorn, purchasing from a popcorn specialty store, or making it yourself at home. There are other factors to consider even then, such as the type of sugar used.

Purchasing from a specialty popcorn store will yield the most sugar-laden kettle corn, as those flavors are typically created to be over-the-top. They’re meant to be a treat more than a snack.

Microwave kettle corn would sit right in the middle, with a good amount of sugar and other additives. Be careful here, as many sugars are simply labeled differently. Don’t just check the ingredients list; look at the nutrition label for the total sugar content.

And if you’re making kettle corn at home?

You can control the amount – and type – of sugar added, which makes a big difference. This is the best option if you want the flavor of kettle corn without maxing out your daily sugar allowance and steering your snack into unhealthy territory.

Sugar Content for Common Pre-Popped Brands

How much sugar is considered ‘a lot of sugar?’

Consider this: men shouldn’t consume more than 36 grams per day, while the limit is 25 grams for women. Remember that when looking at the amount of sugar in any snack.

Also, look at how much sugar the kettle corn contains for the number of calories it has. A food is considered ‘high sugar’ if it contains 20% DV (daily value) of sugar per serving.

Here are the values for some common ‘healthier’ pre-popped brands:

  • Boom Chicka Pop – 8g sugar per 28g serving
  • Skinny Pop – 7g sugar per 28g serving
  • Lesser Evil – 6g sugar per 28g serving
  • Popcorn Indiana – 8g sugar per 28g serving

So, for a man, one serving would equate to around 22% of the recommended daily value, which comes in around 32% for women.

These kettle corn options would be considered ‘high sugar’ by these standards, although not by much. If the remainder of your meals and snacks aren’t high in sugar, these kettle corn options are still great for a filling snack.

Beware of Alternative Sugars

Especially with microwave kettle corn, look out for sugar in other forms.

It’s common for microwave kettle corn brands to use an artificial sugar called sucralose instead of sugar. Technically, this produces a sweet flavor without added grams of ‘sugar,’ but your body reacts to it the same as sugar (sugar high followed by a nasty crash).

Add in the fact that it’s highly processed, and you should keep it out of your body if you want a healthy snack.

Other sugar aliases include:

  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Dextrose
  • Sucrose
  • Invert sugar
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Cane crystals
  • Corn syrup
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Corn sweetener
  • Malt syrup
  • Brown rice syrup

Even ‘healthy’ brands will use these ingredients to make the product seem healthier.

Your best bet is to look for a brand of kettle corn that uses simple, easily identified ingredients and a sugar content under 10 grams per serving.

Interested to see the differences between kettle corn and caramel corn?

Why is Kettle Corn So Addictive?

Kettle corn is addictive thanks to its sugar content. Our bodies crave sugar, and they crave even more when we give them some sugar. It’s a cycle. Especially if you have a sweet tooth, cravings can be downright unbearable. Also, kettle corn is both sweet and salty, which satisfies both of those craving types at once.

If you’re on the lookout for a sweet snack that’s also salty, kettle corn is a delicious choice. It’s tender yet crunchy on the outside, easy to make, inexpensive, and relatively healthy. What more could we ask for when snack time comes knocking?

For a deeper dive into this fantastic snack, check out our complete guide to kettle corn.

Sources

https://choosingnutrition.com/is-kettle-corn-healthy/
https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/how-much-sugar-is-too-much#:~:text=To%20keep%20all%20of%20this,or%20100%20calories)%20per%20day.
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/added-sugar-in-the-diet/#:~:text=The%20percent%20DV%20will%20vary,per%20serving%20is%20considered%20high

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