Corn is a starchy vegetable and cereal grain that is consumed all over the world for hundreds of years. It is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. The health benefits of corn are controversial, although it contains beneficial nutrients, it can also increase blood sugar levels. In addition, corn is often genetically modified. In this article, we will discuss the possible benefits and disadvantages of consuming corn.
What is corn?
Corn originates in Mexico more than 9,000 years ago and is known in many parts of the world as its original name “corn”. For the first time, Native Americans cultivated and harvested these crops as their main food source. Today it is one of the most consumed cereals worldwide. It is usually white or yellow, but there are also red, purple and blue colors.
We consume corn as
- Sweet corn
- and add it to countless food
Moreover, corn is widely used for fuel and animal feed. In fact, 40% of the corn grown in the US is used as fuel, and 60-70% of the world’s corn is produced to feed animals.
What is the nutritional content of corn?
Corn is a highly nutritious food. It is high in carbohydrates, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. By consuming corn you won’t get a lot of protein and fat into your body.
One cup (150 grams) of sweet yellow corn contains approximately:
- Calories: 177 Calories
- Carbs: 41 grams
- Protein: 5.4 grams
- Fat: 2.1 grams
- Fiber: 4.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 17% of your daily requirement
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 24% of your daily requirement
- Folate (Vitamin B9): 19% of your daily need
- Magnesium: 11% of your daily requirement
- Potassium: 10% of your daily requirement
Most of the carbohydrates in corn can quickly spike your blood sugar, depending on how much you eat. However, it is also high in fiber, which can help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Because of its impressive nutrient profile, most people can benefit from eating corn and popcorn as part of a balanced diet. At the same time, this vegetable or grain is naturally gluten-free. If you avoid gluten, then consuming corn won’t be a great problem for you.
On the other hand, processed corn products may not be very nutritious because refined oil, syrups and chips lose beneficial fiber and other nutrients during production. Also, many processed products are high in added salt, sugar, or fat.
Corn contains beneficial plant compounds and fiber
Corn contains antioxidants and plant compounds that may provide many health benefits.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin content are good for eye health
Corn is particularly high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that can prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
In a study of 365 adults, those with the highest intakes of carotenoids — particularly lutein and zeaxanthin — had a 43% lower chance of developing AMD than those with the lowest intakes. Therefore, eating corn regularly can be good for your eye health.
Corn may prevent diverticular diseases and other digestive issues
The fiber in corn provides health benefits.
Dietary fiber intake has been associated with lowering the risk of many diseases, including heart disease and some cancers. What’s more, eating enough fiber promotes healthy digestion and can protect you against intestinal problems.
In particular, it may protect against specific digestive issues, including diverticular disease, which is characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract.
A significantly lower risk of diverticular disease was observed in an 18-year study of 47,000 adult men associated with consuming popcorn at least twice a week. Consuming corn and popcorn can improve gut health and prevent digestive diseases. However, more research is needed.
Consuming corn can increase your blood sugar level and make it harder for you to lose weight
Because corn is high in starch, it can increase your blood sugar and may not be suitable for some people. People with diabetes may need to limit their intake of starchy carbohydrates, including corn.
Research focusing specifically on corn consumption and diabetes is limited, but studies show that low-carb diets are more effective in treating diabetes.
Eating less of other corn products, especially high fructose corn syrup, can help prevent diabetes. One study found that countries with easy access to high fructose syrup had a 20% higher prevalence of diabetes compared to areas where syrup was not readily available.
Finally, people trying to lose weight may want to limit their intake of starchy carbohydrates in corn.
A 24-year Harvard study in 133,468 adults found that each additional daily serving of corn was associated with weight gain of 2 pounds (0.9 kg) at 4-year intervals. Potatoes, peas and other starchy vegetables did not contribute to weight gain.
Most corn plants are genetically modified
It is one of the most genetically modified crops in the world. In fact, 92% of the crop grown in the US in 2016 was genetically modified corn. Corn plants are modified to increase yields, keep insects away, and increase resistance to disease or chemicals.
The impact of modified maize and other crops on human health and environmental safety is one of the most debated issues in the field of nutrition. Current research on the safety of genetically modified corn for humans is limited and contradictory.
Some research shows that modified products are not harmful to human health and provide the same nutrients as unmodified products. Some studies have linked the consumption of genetically modified corn with toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs.
More research is needed to help consumers make an informed decision about eating genetically modified corn. If you’re concerned about eating genetically modified crops, look for products labeled “non-GMO.”
How to cook and use corn
Corn is a versatile food you can add into your diet in many ways.
You can commonly find corn on the cob in grocery stores and markets in fresh, frozen, and canned varieties.
- You can prepare fresh corn cobs by heating them on a grill or cooking them in boiling water. IThen serve them for usual with melted butter and salt.
- Also you can add the grains to soups, salads or vegetable dishes. Inaddiotion, you can also consider serving them on their own with butter or olive oil and seasonings.
- You can also use other varieties of corn such as flour and dried kernels. You can make bread with finely ground cornmeal, water and salt. Sliced pieces of these can be turned into homemade chips by cooking them with oil and spices.
- Finally, you can use the dried kernels to make popcorn on the stovetop or for a tasty and satisfying snack.
Hot tip for your garden: Don`t throw away corn husks! You can use corn husks in compost for great nutritional benefits.
Corn is rich in fiber and plant compounds that may aid digestion and eye health.
Yet its high starch can raise blood sugar and prevent weight loss when consumed in excess. The safety of genetically modified corn may also be a concern in some circles.
Still, in moderation, consuming corn can be part of a healthy diet.