Popcorn can be a delicious and healthy snack for those who don't suffer from diabetes. But can diabetics eat popcorn? I'll discuss how much sugar is in popcorn, whether it raises your blood sugar levels, and whether or not popcorn is good for people with diabetes.

In this Diabetic & Me article, you will learn about the following:

  • Can people with diabetes eat popcorn?
  • Does popcorn contain many carbohydrates and sugar?
  • What are the health benefits of popcorn?

Can a Diabetic Eat Popcorn?

Popcorn can be a tricky food to eat if you have diabetes, especially when you are looking for healthy snacks. This is because popcorn can contain so much sugar, which can increase blood sugar levels. That being said, some varieties of popcorn can be enjoyed by people with diabetes.

Popcorn can be a healthy snack for diabetics, depending on what you put on it and how you prepare it. For those who suffer from diabetes, you should be careful about how much sugar, butter, and salt is added to your popcorn because this can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels.

Even though some varieties of popcorn are healthy for diabetics, there's always going to be a certain amount of natural sugars and carbohydrates found in the food – and this, too, will increase blood glucose levels if consumed excessively.

If you want something healthier than store-bought microwave popcorn, try making homemade air-popped popcorn. It contains carbohydrates, but it's a whole-grain food that contains fiber. This allows you to manage blood sugar levels and keep your blood sugar control steady with fewer blood sugar spikes.

What Is The Glycemic Index of Popcorn?

The glycemic index is a system for people with diabetes to measure how carbohydrates affect blood sugar. The glycemic index is measured on a scale from 0-100, and the higher the number on this list, the more it affects your body's ability to maintain stable glucose levels in your bloodstream.

Plain popcorn with no toppings and added sugar have a glycemic index of 55, which is not too bad and is listed as a low-GI food. This means that when you eat plain popcorn, your blood sugar levels will not increase quickly and will be too high over time. This prevents blood sugar spikes.

However, it's important to note that the glycemic index of a food can change depending on how it's prepared and what you add to it before eating. We can slow the rate at which carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels by combining carbs with fat, fiber, and protein. But if your goal is to keep your blood sugar levels steady and healthy, avoid adding too much butter, salt, or added sugar.

As mentioned earlier in this article, there are some varieties of popcorn, such as air-popped or homemade stove-top popped corn made with healthy ingredients (such as olive oil and without sugar) – one serving (3 cups and 24 grams) contains around 50 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates. 

Does Popcorn Spike Blood Sugar Levels?

Popcorn has a relatively good glycemic index and only has a glycemic load of 6, which means it won't affect your blood sugar levels too much. Popcorn is also known to be healthy whole-grain food that contains dietary fiber, which helps you manage the effects of consuming high amounts of carbohydrates over time.

If possible, try air-popped varieties without salt or sugar on top after popping instead of microwave popcorn types with extra additions such as oil, butter, and caramel sauce, ...

If at all possible, avoid having large serving sizes since even though there are fewer carbs in plain popcorn compared to other snacks, it still has carbohydrates nonetheless.

What Are The Benefits of Eating Popcorn?

Besides being a natural whole-grain food that contains dietary fiber, popcorn also contains other nutrients like polyphenols (powerful antioxidants), vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

  • It contains folate, niacin, thiamin, and vitamins B6, A, E, and K.
  • Popcorn has about 8 percent of the daily value of iron and has proven health benefits because it contains calcium, copper, magnesium, and zinc.
  • All this goodness makes popcorn a healthy whole-grain food choice for people who suffer from diabetes or want to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

How Many Cups of Popcorn Can a Diabetic Eat?

When you eat a snack, it's always important to check how it will affect your blood sugar levels. It is recommended that only one cup of plain air-popped popcorn be eaten at a time – and it shouldn't take more than two cups daily. Avoid eating excessive portions to control the blood sugar range.

Remember, the glycemic index can change depending on what you add to your popcorn before eating, so if possible, avoid adding butter or salt that is high in fat. 

What Is a Good Bedtime Snack for a Diabetic?

A good bedtime snack for a diabetic would be fruits and vegetables. This helps control blood sugar levels, keeps them stable throughout the night, and also aids in preventing diabetes-related issues.

According to the American Diabetes Association, healthy snacks could be a handful of mixed nuts, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, popcorn, hard-boiled egg, celery sticks, apple, and peanut butter. These snacks have great nutritional value and are a low-calorie snack option.

Handful Of Mixed Nuts

Frequently Asked Questions

Will popcorn raise my blood sugar?

If you have diabetes, the impact of popcorn on your blood sugar will depend on several factors, such as the serving size, how it is prepared, and any added ingredients.

Plain, air-popped popcorn is the healthiest option, as it is lower in fat, calories, and sodium than popcorn prepared with oil or butter. Keep in mind that portion control is important to manage your blood sugar. A typical serving size is about 3 cups of air-popped popcorn, which contains around 15 grams of carbohydrates.

If you eat popcorn, monitor your blood sugar levels to see how your body responds to it, and adjust your diet accordingly. Always consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized advice on managing your diabetes and appropriate food choices.

How much popcorn can a diabetic eat?

The appropriate amount of popcorn for a person with diabetes depends on individual factors such as their overall diet, blood sugar control, and personal carbohydrate goals.

A general recommendation for a serving size of popcorn is about 3 cups (24 grams) of air-popped popcorn, which contains around 15 grams of carbohydrates. However, this may vary based on individual needs and dietary preferences. It is essential to consider the overall carbohydrate intake within a meal or snack and any added ingredients like butter, oil, or seasonings, which can affect the nutritional content.

Remember that moderation is key, and incorporating a variety of whole-grain, high-fiber foods into your diet can help you maintain better blood sugar control.


It's clear that there are many health benefits to eating popcorn. It has a low glycemic index and contains nutrients like folate, niacin, thiamin, and vitamins B6, A, E, and K. Popcorn also contains antioxidants important for fighting the body's free radicals.

Always remember to eat small portions of plain air-popped without toppings since these have fewer carbs and sugar than microwaved varieties with extra additions such as oil, butter, caramel sauce, or sugar.

Last update on 2023-02-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic & Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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