Is Artificial Butter Flavor Harmful?

Is Artificial Butter Flavor Harmful?
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The connection between diacetyl and the devastating lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans.

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What about the artificial flavor, diacetyl—the artificial butter flavor in microwave and movie theater popcorn? Harmful, harmless, or helpful? And the answer is: harmful.

There’s even a name for it: popcorn lung, also known as bronchiolitis obliterans, because it can obliterate your airways. It’s given off as vapor when you nuke it. And you know, when workers have to wear gas masks to handle your food, it’s probably not a good idea to eat it.

Microwave popcorn manufacturers are now replacing the chemical with real butter. So now, instead of dying of lung disease, we can die of heart disease.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to @bastique via Flickr.

What about the artificial flavor, diacetyl—the artificial butter flavor in microwave and movie theater popcorn? Harmful, harmless, or helpful? And the answer is: harmful.

There’s even a name for it: popcorn lung, also known as bronchiolitis obliterans, because it can obliterate your airways. It’s given off as vapor when you nuke it. And you know, when workers have to wear gas masks to handle your food, it’s probably not a good idea to eat it.

Microwave popcorn manufacturers are now replacing the chemical with real butter. So now, instead of dying of lung disease, we can die of heart disease.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to @bastique via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

For more on diacetyl’s link to bronchiolitis:
Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn or Breathing

And check out my other “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?)

For more context, see my associated blog post: Soy milk: shake it up! and Avoid Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

9 responses to “Is Artificial Butter Flavor Harmful?

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    1. I’d say anything promoted by the Weston A Price people is immediately suspect. They have a history of wild and unsubstantiated claims about soya, and tout their own products. 

      Dr Price was a dentist who seems to have been very interested in diet for health, without social science skills or training in nutrition, who saw Native Americans, newly arrived on reservations, using loads of lard and butter in their cooking. Because they looked healthy, he assumed that lard and butter were health foods. He didn’t realise that they looked healthy because they’d only recently had their diets radically changed by being shunted onto reservations where government hand-outs of buckets of lard and butter (made available by dint of the financial and political influence of the burgeoning US livestock industry whose members were able to grow their farms on the land being cleared of Native inhabitants) were used to keep people alive while traumatised by being packed into reservations on land they were unfamiliar with and having their traditions cracked down on. You don’t move hundreds of thousands of people to a new place and expect them to just pick up a whole way of life overnight. You have to feed them something, or you’ve a mass death and a PR fiasco on your hands.

      So Price saw Native peoples carrying buckets of lard and butter, and instead of asking them what place these ingredients had in their varying traditions, he just put 2 and 2 together and made 22. He may have had the best of intentions. His legacy, though, has not been so great.

  1. Is popcorn popped in coconut oil a relatively healthy snack? I am following the Hippocrates living/raw food regime pretty closely and it is eradicating my chronic leukemia, but I struggle with my life-long sugar addiction. Having un-buttered, coconut oil cooked popcorn around seems to quench the sweet cravings. But am I doing more harm than good?

    1. Maybe pop it in canola oil instead? Also, I like iodized 50% sodium, 50% potassium salt. And also mix with healthier snacks like raw carrots, apples, etc.

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