Fact Check: Can eating popcorn strengthen your bones?

Quick Take

A social media post calls popcorn the “healthiest snack” and claims it can strengthen bones. We fact-checked found that the claim is mostly false.

The Claim

“Popcorn builds bone, muscles, tissue…,” claims the Instagram post. The post can be seen here, here and here.

Fact Check

Is popcorn a healthy snack?

Standalone, popcorn is considered to be very healthy. It is high in fibre that can help you feel full for a longer duration. However, popcorn is often prepared with high amount of butter or low grade oils with high amount of salt – which can be harmful to health.

The American Heart Association mentions on their website, “It’s stable. It’s inexpensive. It’s fairly tasty. For people who might be struggling to eat adequate fruits or vegetables or other whole grains, it’s a low-risk snack to start.” But continues to put a warning, “Popcorn at the movies is very different than popcorn made at home.”

Why do bones get weak?

The most common health condition that leads to the weakening of bones is known as osteoporosis. The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists down the two sets of reasons contributing to osteoporosis. The first set, factors that we can control, includes diet, physical activity, body weight, smoking, alcohol, medicines. The second set, factors that we cannot control, includes age, gender, ethnicity, and family history.

Can popcorn strengthen bones?

No. Diet is not the only thing that can strengthen bones.

Per 100 grams will popcorn will have 7 to 8 mg of Calcium. Most experts suggest the daily requirement of Calcium for the body is around 1000-1200mg. In addition, popcorn does not have Vitamin D that is required for Calcium absorption in the body. Hence it is wrong to project popcorn alone as a super food for bone health.

Dr. Anurag Sharma

Dr. Anurag Sharma, MS (Orthopaedics) says, “Popcorn has calcium and magnesium – two important components of building bone strength. So, technically, it maybe able to contribute to bone strength. But the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of calcium is 1000mgs and Magnesium is about 400mgs, which needs to be replenished through multiple dietary sources. For elderly, calcium supplements becomes very necessary. Solely popcorn cannot build bones, muscles or other tissues.”

Dr. Sharma also adds a quick warning, “Popcorn is a good nutritious snack but high on calories. Overweight individuals should be cautious about the quantity of popcorn they consume.”

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