HEALTH

Butter Popcorn Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

NEW YORK CITY - MARCH 12:  A freshly popped bag of microwave popcorn sits on a table March 12, 2004 in New York City. The Environmental Protection Agency is studying the chemicals released when a bag of microwave popcorn is popped or opened. Exposure to vapors from butter flavoring used in microwave popcorn has been linked to a rare lung disease contracted by factory workers in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NEW YORK CITY - MARCH 12: A freshly popped bag of microwave popcorn sits on a table March 12, 2004 in New York City. The Environmental Protection Agency is studying the chemicals released when a bag of microwave popcorn is popped or opened. Exposure to vapors from butter flavoring used in microwave popcorn has been linked to a rare lung disease contracted by factory workers in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)  (2004 Getty Images)

Movie popcorn has often been criticized for its high calorie count, but researchers now say the snack may harm your brain as well.

A recent study has found that diacetyl, an ingredient that helps popcorn achieve for its buttery flavor and smell, may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, UPI.com reported.

The scientists said they focused on the ingredient because it has already been associated with respiratory and other health issues in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories. According to UPI.com, diacetyl is used in other products such as margarine, snacks and candies, baked goods, some beers and some types of white wine.

Robert Vince was the study’s lead author. The director of the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota said diacetyl is similar in structure to another substance that aids the clumping of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain — a significant indicator of Alzheimer’s.

Just like that other substance, diacetyl was found to increase the amount of beta-amyloid clumping. The popcorn ingredient was also able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, a defense which prevents harmful substances from entering the brain.

This study comes just months after a study performed by scientists at the American Chemical Society that suggested popcorn is “fantastically good for you” because of its high level of antioxidants.

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