What is Corn Good For?

What is Corn?

Corn is a tall annual cereal grass (Zea mays) that is widely grown for its large elongated ears of starchy seeds. The seeds, which are also known as corn, are used as food for humans and livestock and as a source of bio fuel and can be processed into a wide range of useful chemicals.

Maize, also known as corn, is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. The leafy stalk of the plant produces pollen inflorescence and separate ovuliferous inflorescence called ears that yield kernels or seeds, which are fruits.

Corn is considered both a vegetable and a cereal grain

Nutrition

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, corn not only provides the necessary calories for healthy, daily metabolism but is also a rich source of vitamins A, B, E, K, and many minerals.

Its high dietary fiber content ensures that it plays a significant role in the prevention of digestive ailments like constipation. The antioxidants present in it also act as anti-carcinogenic agents and help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Corn Calories

According to the USDA, its calories can differ based on its preparation. For instance,

Since we were young, little children, we used to eat a lot of corn, either boiled or broiled. It was a very common food that you can buy from off the streets with other types of snack foods you can choose from.

Benefits of Corn

A lot of people are confused by corn: Is it a vegetable, or a carb? And is it actually good for you?

1. Corn is full of grain-protective food category

Corn has several health benefits. Because of the high fiber content, it can aid digestion. It also contains valuable B vitamins, which are important to your overall health.

Corn also provides our bodies with essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese.

As a whole grain, corn is in a health-protective food category. Numerous studies have tied whole grain consumption to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

(Yes, corn is linked to a lower risk of obesity despite its carb content as a grain). But of course, portion size matters. Try to choose portions that are in line with your body’s needs and activity level.

For most adult women, that would mean one ear of corn, a half cup of oven-roasted kernels, or three cups of popcorn in one sitting.

2. It’s full of key nutrients

Corn contains a variety of B vitamins, as well as potassium. The latter mineral supports healthy blood pressure, heart function, muscle contractions, prevents muscle cramps, and helps maintain muscle mass.

Corn also supplies about 10 times more vitamin A than other grains. In addition to protecting against cognitive decline, vitamin A supports the immune system and helps to form the mucous membranes in your respiratory tract.

Stronger membranes form better protective barriers to keep germs out of your bloodstream.

3. Corn provides protective antioxidants

Lutein and zeaxanthin, corn’s main carotenoids (or pigments), help protect your eyes and have been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Meanwhile, the antioxidant quercetin has been shown to combat both acute and chronic inflammation, and protect against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Quercetin has also been linked to apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to kill off worn-out or dysfunctional cells.

Other antioxidants in blue and purple corn have been shown to be particularly good at fending off inflammation. They also guard against oxidative stress, an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to counter their harmful effects.

4. Corn is good for your digestion

Another health benefit of eating corn: you get a dose of insoluble fiber, which isn’t broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream.

Insoluble fiber stays in the GI tract, increases stool bulk, and helps to push waste through your system.

This prevents constipation, reduces the risk of hemorrhoids, and may help lower colon cancer risk. Corn’s fiber may also help support weight management by increasing post-meal feelings of fullness.

5. Prevents Constipation

The fiber content in one cup of corn amounts to 18.4% of the daily recommended amount. This aids in alleviating digestive problems such as constipation and hemorrhoids, due to maize being a whole grain.

One study found that corn bran was significantly better than a wheat barn in relieving constipation.

Dietary fiber can help bulk and soften stools, promoting regular elimination, and decreasing straining. This process is done by stimulating the peristaltic motion and the production of gastric juice and bile.

By adding bulk to loose stools, the chances for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea can be greatly reduced.

Corn, especially the yellow variety, is a rich source of calories and is a staple in many places. The calorific content of sweet yellow and white corn is 96 calories per 100 grams. This is why it is often turned to for quick weight gain.

6. Weight Gain

Corn, especially the yellow variety, is a rich source of calories and is a staple in many places. The calorific content of sweet yellow and white corn is 96 calories per 100 grams. This is why it is often turned to for quick weight gain.

7. Provides Essential Minerals

Corn contains several essential minerals that can help in ensuring proper growth and fighting diseases. According to a 2017 study, published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, it is an important source for Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Mg, and P.

The nutritional composition can, however, vary according to the way it is harvested and processed. The nutritional content is best preserved when it is eaten whole or as popcorn. Steaming, boiling, or roasting lowers the nutritional content.

It also contains trace minerals like selenium, which are difficult to find in most diets. Phosphorus is essential for regulating normal growth, bone health, and optimal kidney functioning. Magnesium is necessary for maintaining a normal heart rate and for increasing bone mineral density.

8. Protects Your Heart

According to research, corn oil has been shown to have an anti-atherogenic effect on cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of various cardiovascular diseases. Corn oil, in particular, is the best way to improve heart health and this is derived from the fact that corn is close to an optimal fatty acid combination.

This allows omega-3 fatty acids to strip away the damaging LDL or bad cholesterol and replace them at the binding sites. This can reduce the chances of arteries becoming clogged, lower blood pressure, and minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke.

According to another study, consumption of corn husk oil lowers plasma LDL or bad cholesterol by reducing cholesterol absorption in the body. As mentioned earlier, this reduction in LDL cholesterol does not mean a reduction in HDL or good cholesterol, which can have beneficial effects on the body.

They include the reduction of heart diseases, prevention of atherosclerosis, and general scavenging of free radicals throughout the body. The Australian government recommends corn oil as one of the foods that can help in preventing heart diseases.

9. Eye & Skin Care

Yellow corn is a rich source of beta-carotene, which forms vitamin A in the body and is essential for the maintenance of good vision and skin. As per a study published in the journal Science, beta-carotene is a great source of vitamin A because it is converted into the body according to the amount required.

Vitamin A can be toxic if too much is consumed, so deriving it through beta-carotene transformation is ideal. It may also benefit the health of skin and mucous membranes, as well as boost the immune system.

The amount of beta-carotene in the body that is not converted into vitamin A acts as a very strong antioxidant, like all carotenoids, and can combat diseases.

10. Manages Diabetes

In recent decades, the world has seemed to suffer from an epidemic of diabetes. Although the exact mechanism for this cannot be pinpointed, it is generally related to nutrition.

A study published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness in 2018 has shown that consumption of whole-grain corn is related to a decreased risk in the development of type 2 diabetes.

According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, consumption of its kernels assists in the management of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and is effective against hypertension due to the presence of phenolic phytochemicals in whole corn.

Phytochemicals can regulate the absorption and release of insulin in the body, which can reduce the chance of spikes and drops for people with diabetes and help them maintain a healthy lifestyle, as per the British Journal of Nutrition.

11. Cosmetic Benefits

Cornstarch is used in the manufacturing of many cosmetic products and may also be applied topically to soothe skin rashes and irritation. Its products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products which are major components of many cosmetic preparations.

Many of the traditional skin creams contain petroleum jelly as a base material, which can often block pores and make skin conditions even worse.

Common different varieties of corn.

1) Sweet Corn

This is the yellow variety you’re most likely to find on the cob or cut off the cob and frozen at the grocery store or local market. It’s known for its sweet taste, which is due to its high sugar content.

Sweet corn is different from other varieties because it’s actually picked for human consumption before it’s fully mature. This assures that the kernels stay soft. When cooked, it produces ferulic acid. (Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that has been studied by researchers at Cornell University for its potential anticancer characteristics.)

Interestingly, even though sweet corn is the variety most consumed by humans, it only makes up 1% of the corn grown in the United States. Sweet corn is actually said to have come about from a natural mutation sometime in the 18th century.

2) Blue Corn

This variety is full of anthocyanins, which account for its bluish kernels. Anthocyanins are pigments that are high in antioxidants. Anthocyanins in blue corn have specifically been studied for their anticancer properties and demonstrated an antiproliferative effect on certain cancer cell lines.

Blue corn is also slightly higher in plant-based protein than yellow. Although you may not commonly encounter blue corn in its whole form, food companies use it to make blue corn tortillas, tortilla chips, and blue cornmeal.

3) Indian Corn

Often seen in the autumn, Indian corn is a beautiful variety with multicolored kernels. They can take shape in a range of colors, such as red, blue, and white. The unique coloring comes from the cross-pollination of single-color corn species.

It’s also called flint corn and is one of the oldest varieties, originating with the Native Americans who taught early European immigrant explorers how to grow it. Indian corn has hard kernel shells that shrink when cooked, but this makes it less susceptible to spoiling than other varieties.

When not used as table decor, this variety works best in dishes like polenta and hominy because it doesn’t taste sweet. Higher in starch than other varieties, it contains varying degrees of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, though these appear to be reduced when boiled.

4) Field Corn

Most of the corn grown in the United States is field corn. And most of it is genetically engineered. Its primary use is to feed livestock or to produce ethanol for cars. Some are also used to make corn starch, corn oil, corn cereal, and corn syrup for human consumption.

Field corn is sometimes referred to as “cow corn,” because so much of it is fed to livestock. It’s also called dent corn because of a distinct dent that forms when the kernels dry.

5) Baby Corn

You might find baby corn at a salad bar or pickled in tiny jars at the grocery store. Many people assume that baby corn comes from a smaller species of corn. Surprise! It’s just sweet or field corn picked very prematurely.

In addition to health-promoting antioxidants, edible corn offers some other benefits, too:

  • People with diverticulitis have traditionally been told to avoid eating popcorn. But a 2008 study published in JAMA followed over 47,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75, with no history of diverticulitis, for 18 years.

Researchers found that men who ate popcorn at least two times per week had a significantly lower risk of developing diverticulitis than men who ate no popcorn. As a result of this and other studies, official recommendations are now being updated.

  • Corn has long been a part of traditionally healthy diets. Corn has been a staple food for Native Americans and an important source of nutrients for many nations throughout history. And numerous researchers suggest that switching back to more traditional foods like corn could significantly reduce the chronic diseases of modern society.

A 2007 report on indigenous people in North America published in the Journal of Medicinal Food discusses this in more depth. Switching to a modern diet that’s high in sugar, processed food, and factory-farmed animal products leads to far more health risks for these communities than their traditional diets based on rice, vegetables, legumes, corn, and wild game.

Not surprisingly, eating the Western diet increases their risk of high blood pressure and diabetes dramatically.

What About Popcorn?

Popcorn is a whole grain with many nutrients, including a significant amount of fiber and polyphenols. Although there are many delicious ways to prepare this popular snack, the mode of preparation is key. That’s where you can transform a healthy snack into an unhealthy one.

For instance, many microwave popcorn bags contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to thyroid problems and ADHD. Many packaged brands also contain hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, which can contain trans fats that are harmful to your heart health.

And if it has fake butter in it? This often contains a chemical called diacetyl, which has been linked, in an occupational exposure study involving a microwave popcorn production facility, to a respiratory disease called cryptogenic organizing pneumonia. Yikes.

It’s best to enjoy air-popped popcorn, which enables you to avoid the oil used in the processing of most commercially available popcorn. And instead of mounds of melted butter and salt, try popcorn with healthier toppings.

Perhaps nutritional yeast, lemon juice, herbal seasoning, turmeric, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, a dash of sea salt, and/or other herbs and spices. Some people even try cinnamon. The possibilities are endless!

How do we eat our corn?

Since we were young, little children, we used to eat a lot of corn, either boiled or broiled. It was a very common food that you can buy from off the streets with other types of snack foods you can choose from.

After school, we just used to buy them, eat them at home before our supper. For some reason, I always liked the hard corn rather than the sweet corn.

If I couldn’t get the hard ones, I would just get the broiled corn and I must tell you, those broiled corns really are so delicious especially right after they were broiled.

While writing this I can even imagine myself eating it right now. I do really miss them.

We also eat corn as our main dish where we grated it first from the bushel and then boiled it and then mixed it with either chicken or beef or pork or fish or shrimp depending on what you want and you add spinach or another kind of leafy vegetable. Then, you seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Corn salad and dessert

A delectable way of making corn is corn salad where you just mixed leafy vegetables like Romaine lettuce or spinach and whatever you preferred to use with it and add pineapple chunks and either chicken or shrimps with it, season it, and wallah.

If you wanted to make your own dressings, it is up to you as well.

Another way of eating corn is by making a dessert out of it by having it grated and boiled it in coconut milk with a little bit of sugar. It is a simple way of cooking it and it sure does fills you up and wanting to have some more.

A few more things to know…

While there are more types of genetically modified corn (140 to be exact) than any other plant species, most fresh corn on the cob is not genetically modified. (The vast majority of corn grown in the US is used for animal feed and biofuels; a smaller percentage is processed to make various ingredients, such as cornstarch.)

If you’re buying bagged frozen corn, you can avoid GMOs by looking for “USDA Certified Organic” on the label.

Also, while whole corn is low in fat (1 gram per ear) and sugar (3 grams per ear), I don’t recommend consuming high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or corn oil. HFCS has been tied to an abnormal increase in body fat, especially belly fat, as well as blood fats called triglycerides.

And corn oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which have been linked to pro-inflammation, especially when not properly balanced by omega-3s.

As with other things, If you’re allergic to corn, as some people are, then, of course, don’t eat it.

Please leave your comments and/or feedback below.

  • Do you eat corn? Which one is your favorite?
  • What other ways do you prepare corn as a dish or as a dessert?
  • Do you know about Corn Oil and what it does?

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Disclaimer

Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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