How healthy are popular ready-to-eat popcorn brands?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Some bagged popcorn brands have healthy-sounding names, but are they really good for you?

Sales of ready-to-eat popcorn have skyrocketed, according to market research from Mintel. That's partly because it is perceived as being a healthy snack. It's a whole grain and good source of antioxidants and compounds that help repair cell damage.

Consumer Reports food experts evaluated a number of popular brands, some salty, sweet and cheesy.

The salted ones were evaluated for taste and nutrition.

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"We selected five popular brands with a clean ingredient list - just popcorn, oil and salt. A high-quality popcorn has a very light crispness, with no bitterness or burnt notes," Trisha Calvo of Consumer Reports.

One surprise was the Skinny Pop brand. Although it scores very good for taste, despite its name, it has more calories and fat than the other four.

Smartfood Delight Sea Salt's large, plump kernels got very good marks for taste and good marks for nutrition.

The best of the bunch was Angies Boom Chick Pop Sea Salt popcorn. Testers gave it an excellent review for its toasted corn flavor and crunchy texture and good marks for nutrition.

As for the sweet and cheese-flavored popcorn, Consumer Reports found that some were not as unhealthy as you would think.

Two cups of Cake Cod's Salted Caramel have just 10 more calories that its sea-salt version and about one more gram of fat, but the same amount of Angie's Boom Chicka Pop White Cheddar has 50 more calories and three times the sodium than its sea salt version.

You may want to consider making a bag of popcorn yourself. Just add a little salt or other seasoning.
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