17 Best Low Sodium Popcorn Selections (Dietitian Approved)

Popcorn is a delicious snack option. It’s great for munching on while watching a movie, gaming on the computer, or as a lower-carb anytime snack for those with diabetes. Here, I’ve compiled some tasty, low-sodium popcorn choices you can purchase online or at your local grocery store. This list includes both microwave popcorn choices as well as ready-to-eat, bagged popcorn varieties.

Please leave me a comment below with your favorite type or brand of popcorn. Or fill me in on your go-to homemade low-sodium popcorn recipe!

Plus, a quick and healthy homemade popcorn recipe.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. All article information and opinions are my own.

low sodium popcorn in a bowl on white countertop

The Healthy Snack Choice

Popcorn is one of six different types of corn. It is also the only type of corn that pops.

According to The Popcorn Board, Americans consume about 14 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. And is one of the most popular snack foods in the world! That’s a whole lot of crunchy and delicious snacking!

And popcorn can fit into many different types of dietary patterns, including:

For some tasty recipes, visit my recipes section.

Here are a few more reasons you should include popcorn in your daily or weekly meal pattern.

High in Fiber

Popcorn is naturally high in fiber because it is a whole grain! Whole grains are minimally processed grains that still contain all parts of the original grain source.

In the case of popcorn, it contains the endosperm, hull, and pericarp.

Eating more high-fiber, whole grains are beneficial for overall health and may reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and premature death.

Much research has been done on whole grains like oats and barley, but not so much on popcorn. One study shows a reduced risk of coronary heart disease with whole grain breakfast cereals and bread, but no such association with popcorn intake. Still, more research is needed.

Low in Sodium

Plain, air-popped popcorn is also very low in sodium. One cup of air-popped, no salt added popcorn is less than 1 mg of sodium.

You can’t get much better than that for a crunchy snack choice that is also heart-healthy.

Although, I know many of us do not want to eat plain, unsalted popcorn. Don’t worry, we are getting to those delicious low-sodium popcorn recommendations.

Low in Calories

Popcorn is also a low-calorie snack, (if you’re choosing air-popped popcorn). With only 100-150 calories per 5 cups of air-popped popcorn, it can easily fit into any calorie allowance or diet type.

In terms of weight loss, studies on eating whole grains, including air-popped popcorn, show that consuming more whole grains in place of refined grains can help promote weight loss and prevent weight gain.

Whole grains will also keep you full longer. According to research, popcorn had a stronger satiety factor when compared to eating potato chips.

Popcorn is 1.6 times more satiating than potato chips.

This means that low-sodium popcorn can be a great snack choice for those wanting to decrease their daily calorie intake or lose weight.

Good Source of Polyphenols

Popcorn is also a great source of antioxidant polyphenols. These health-benefitting phenolic acids are primarily located in the pericarp area of the popcorn kernel itself. This is the hard outside layer or hull of the kernel.

One compound present in popcorn is ferulic acid. Studies show that this compound may lower oxidative stress, increase insulin, decrease lipids and atherosclerosis, and reduce blood pressure.

And what’s great about popcorn, is that the popping process does not reduce the amount of polyphenols in the popcorn.

Additionally, while popcorn may not be as nutrient-dense as other crunchy snacks, like nuts, it does contain lutein, an anti-inflammatory and chemoprotective micronutrient.

Keep in mind that popcorn does also contain acrylamide, which has been shown to increase oxidative stress and inflammation. Several health agencies state that high amounts of acrylamide may be potential human carcinogens.

Unhealthy Popcorn Varieties

But not all types of popcorn are created equal. This delightful snack can add a large amount of fat, sodium, and even sugar to your diet if you are not careful about what you add to it.

For example, buttered and salted popcorn can add several hundred calories and up to an entire day’s worth of fat and sodium, depending on the serving size consumed.

Additionally, in most movie theaters, real butter is substituted for artificial butter in popcorn to prevent the popcorn from getting soggy. This is because butter has a higher water content than artificial butter flavoring. Most movie theaters also use coconut oil to pop their kernels which is high in saturated fat.

Then there are sweetened popcorns like caramel corn and commercially-prepared kettle corn. The added sugars that these add to your diet can add unwanted calories and increase heart disease risk.

Which Popcorn Is Healthiest?

Air-popped popcorn eaten plain is by far the healthiest way to eat this grain. It is the only food that is 100% whole grain by weight.

You will get all of the fiber, antioxidant phenolic compounds, and heart health benefits with very few calories and sodium.

Additionally, by adding herbs and spices to your popcorn, which have their own set of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, you can make this snack even more healthy and flavorful!

Nutritional Value of Air-Popped Popcorn

Here is the nutrition information for a snack-size 1.5-cup serving of air-popped popcorn and a larger 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn. As you can see, you can eat a large volume without consuming many calories, fat, sodium, or cholesterol.

It is also a fantastic lower-carbohydrate snack choice for individuals with diabetes.

1.5-cup snack-sized serving
(14 gm / counts as 1/2 whole grain serving)
3-cup serving size
(28 gm / counts as 1 whole grain serving)
31 calories93 calories
1 gm protein3 gm protein
0.3 gm total fat<1 gm total fat
6.2 gm carbohydrate18.6 gm carbohydrate
1.2 gm fiber3.6 gm fiber
0.6 mg sodium1.8 mg sodium
26.3 mg potassium78.9 mg potassium
0 mg cholesterol0 mg cholesterol

Is Bagged Popcorn Healthier Than Microwave Popcorn?

Both pre-popped popcorn and microwaveable varieties may contain added ingredients you may want to avoid.

For example, pre-popped popcorn can have more salt added than you’d like along with preservatives to keep it fresh longer.

And microwaveable popcorns can have both trans fats from palm kernel oil along with large amounts of sodium and preservatives you may want to avoid.

In the past, microwaveable popcorn was also associated with lung issues in popcorn factory workers. The culprit was a chemical called, diacetyl, which was added to give microwave popcorn its buttery flavor. This same chemical is also in cigarette smoke.

Still, out of convenience, there are some brands of pre-popped and microwaveable popcorn that can be eaten in small amounts without worries. You simply need to know what to look for.

Low Sodium Microwave Popcorn Choices

In no particular order, here are some low-sodium microwave popcorn choices you can try. Each of these brands contain less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. According to the FDA, this is the definition of a low sodium food.

If choosing other flavors than the ones listed, the sodium content may vary. Always refer to the product’s nutrition label for the most accurate nutrition information.

Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

  1. Black Jewell Gourmet Microwave Popcorn

2. Smude’s Brand All Natural Microwave Popcorn – Low Sodium 

3. Cousin Willie’s Microwave Popcorn Bags, Kettle Corn

4. Quinn Microwave Popcorn – Butter & Sea Salt

6. 365 by Whole Foods Market, Organic No Oil or Salt Microwave Popcorn

Low Sodium Bagged Popcorn Choices

In no particular order, here are some low sodium pre-popped popcorn choices you can try. Each of these brands contains no more than 140 mg of sodium per serving. According to t-e FDA, this is the definition of a low sodium food.

If choosing other flavors than the ones listed, the sodium content may vary. Always refer to the product’s nutrition label for the most accurate nutrition information.

Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

  1. SkinnyPop Popcorn, Original

2. LesserEvil Himalayan Gold Salt Organic Popcorn

3. Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn Popcorn

4. LesserEvil Buddha Bowl Organic Popcorn Himalayan Pink

5. Smartfood Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn Flavored Popcorn

6. Pipcorn Heirloom Truffle Popcorn

7. Pilot Knob Honestly Awesome Popped Premium Red Kernels Gourmet Popcorn

8. IWON Organics Protein Popcorn, Sweet and Salty Flavor

9. Safe and Fair Birthday Cake Drizzled Popcorn

10. Safe + Fair Plant-Based Gourmet Apple Pie Flavored Honeycrisp Apple Pie Drizzled Kettle Corn Popcorn

11. True Pop “Just Plain Good” Air-Popped Popcorn

Homemade Low-Sodium Popcorn Recipe

For an easy and fun alternative to bagged or microwave popcorn, you can make your own low-sodium popcorn at home! Here is my favorite recipe for low-sodium herb and spice popcorn.

Try this cute and collapsible microwave popcorn popper* to make your popcorn! (affiliate link)

This Easy Herb and Spice Popcorn uses no salt. Instead, I add dried and powdered herbs and spices which incorporates a ton of flavor and excitement to your low-sodium popcorn.

Time needed: 15 minutes

Easy Herb and Spice Popcorn Recipe

  1. Pop your kernels.

    This step will vary depending on the method you prefer to use. You can use an air popper, pop kernels in a small amount of olive or canola oil over the stove, or use a bag of no-sodium or low-sodium microwave popcorn.

  2. Get ready to season.

    Once the kernels are popped. Place them into a large bowl.

  3. Add your herbs and spices.

    I suggest a few sprays of olive oil spray to your popcorn to help your seasoning stick to the popcorn. Then, per each 4-5 cups of popcorn, add 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and paprika. Toss the mixture well to cover each kernel.

  4. Enjoy your satisfying and flavorful snack!

    Sit down, relax, and enjoy your delicious low-sodium popcorn.

Other Low Sodium Popcorn Seasoning Options

You can try other seasonings to change the flavor of your low-sodium popcorn. Try some of the variations below.

  • Cajun: chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika
  • Italian: oregano, basil, garlic powder, grated parmesan cheese
  • Lemon Pepper: lemon pepper seasoning
  • Vegan Cheese and Garlic: nutritional yeast and garlic powder

Additional FAQs

Is popcorn a healthy snack for weight loss?

Yes, popcorn is a great low-calorie and high-fiber snack that can help support weight loss by making you feel full and providing a large volume without being calorie-dense.

Is popcorn okay to eat every day?

Absolutely. Popcorn is a great whole-grain snack that if eaten in moderation can be part of a regular healthy diet.

What is the best oil for popcorn?

While coconut oil is normally used for popping popcorn because of its high smoke point, it is also very high in saturated fat which is unhealthy for your heart. Instead, you can also use olive oil, avocado oil, or canola oil.

The Bottom Line

I hope these options inspire you to give low-sodium popcorn a try. As I mentioned, it’s a great, healthy snack option that can support heart health and weight management, and provide a slew of antioxidant polyphenols.

There are so many low-sodium options, both microwaveable and pre-popped varieties. Give some a try today and leave me a message in the comments to let me know what you think.

And I also highly recommend air-popping your own low-sodium popcorn concoction, which is fun for the whole family!

For other healthy snack ideas, try:

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