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A sad kernel of truth: Popcorn’s butter flavour linked to Alzheimer’s

What was once a light, airy, crunchy snack – even touted for its antioxidant powers – made headlines today for being a health hazard.

Turns out the artificial butter flavour used in popcorn – particularly the microwave and movie theatre variety – is linked to brain deterioration. The culprit is diacetyl – a chemical compound used to make that salivating butter flavour and smell, which is a contributing factor to the progression of Alzeimer's disease, according to the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

"So far, these effects have only been seen in test-tube studies," writes Daniel J. DeNoo, who examined the study at Web MD.

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Still, many are shocked ("I'm never eating popcorn again!" cried so many baffled poppers on Twitter) but we've got to question those who ever thought buttery microwaved or movie theatre popcorn was a good idea in the first place.

True, popcorn can be healthy and low-cal when popped at home. (But let's be honest: who enjoys tasteless and unsatisfying dry crunch?)

And sure, healthy can sometimes be tasty too (try these kale chips and you will honestly never touch a Ruffles again). But when it comes to popcorn, the more decadent, we've found, is always the most rewarding (try this life-changing recipe for cinnamon-bun popcorn).

Other snacks that have the potential to be healthy but can get out-of-control bad-for-you? Yogurt (compare the fat-free Greek variety to cheesecake flavoured decadence), cereal (compare a bowl of oatmeal to chocolate-laced granola. Yikes!) and yes – even your trip to Starbucks (how quickly a latte can turn into a dessert).

Are you THAT surprised about artificial butter flavoured popcorn? Are you going to stop eating it?

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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