If you like to snack on the occasional bag of microwave popcorn, it’s probably the buttery flavoring that you crave.
This comes from an artificial flavoring called diacetyl, which is a natural byproduct of fermentation found in butter, beer and vinegar… and also a chemical made synthetically by food companies because it gives foods that irresistible buttery flavor and aroma.
Many companies who manufacture microwave popcorn have already stopped using the synthetic diacetyl because it’s been linked to lung damage in people who work in their factories.
But now a new study at the University of Minnesota shows that diacetyl is not only a risk to workers’ lungs… it may also pose a risk to your brain.
Microwave Popcorn Chemical Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers conducting test-tube studies revealed that diacetyl has several concerning properties for brain health. Not only can it pass through the blood-brain barrier, which is intended to help keep toxins out of your brain, but it can also cause brain proteins to misfold into the Alzheimer’s-linked form known as beta amyloid. It also inhibits mechanisms that help to naturally clear the dangerous beta amyloid from your brain.1
It’s not known at this time whether eating diacetyl-containing foods (it’s used not only in microwave popcorn but also in other snack foods, baked goods, pet foods, some fast foods and other food products) increases your risk of Alzheimer’s, but the finding that it may contribute to brain plaques linked to Alzheimer’s at very low concentrations is concerning, to say the least.
How many other synthetic chemicals have we been told are perfectly safe, only to find out over time that they aren’t. MSG and aspartame come to mind… but there are countless others as well.
Removing Diacetyl from Microwave Popcorn Doesn’t Make it Safe…
As mentioned, diacetyl is known to cause serious, sometimes life-threating respiratory illness in microwave popcorn-plant and flavoring plant workers. Many companies therefore began to stop using the chemical in their products, replacing it with another ingredient called 2,3-pentanedione (PD), which is also used to impart a buttery flavor and aroma.
Now researchers have revealed that PD, too, can lead to respiratory toxicity similar to that caused by diacetyl.2 The chemical was also capable of pathologically altering the gene expression in rat brains, leading to neurotoxicity. The study’s lead researcher noted:
“Our study is a reminder that a chemical with a long history of being eaten without any evidence of toxicity can still be an agent with respiratory toxicity when appropriate studies are conducted.”
Not to mention, perfluoroalkyls (PFCs), which are chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through food wrappers, are widely used in microwave-popcorn packaging. These chemicals migrate into your food and are processed by your body, where they can disrupt your endocrine system and affect your sex hormones. PFCs have been linked to infertility, thyroid disease, cancer, immune system problems, and more. …