Corn has been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. However, its consumption has skyrocketed in recent years due to industrialization and increased availability. This increase in consumption is causing many health issues, which have led some people to avoid corn entirely. Instead, it is often used for making tortillas, cornbread, and popcorn.
People who eat the typical American diet inadvertently ingest more maize every day than they’d ever imagined. Are you unsure about corn’s nutritional worth or if it’s good for you? If that’s the case, you’re not alone.
Is corn beneficial to health?
Corn’s nutritional content has long been used to sustain increasing populations, particularly in poor regions, when coupled with other plant foods such as beans, vegetables, and avocados. Every year, millions of people benefit from many essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, carbs, and calories provided by this “staple crop.”
Although unprocessed, organic, non-GMO maize isn’t inherently harmful to you — it’s been used for thousands of years and has certain health advantages — the kind ingested today is a different story. Overly modified maize is present in fried corn tortilla chips, buttery popcorn, high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, cornflour, and other packaged food items. As a result, it is prevalent in both children’s and adults’ diets today.
What Exactly Is Corn?
For thousands of years, corn (scientific name Zea mays), also known as maize in Spanish, has been an essential ingredient throughout South, Central, and North America. It has been a traditional meal for Native Americans for over 8,000 years. It is now found in the diets of people all over the globe, including numerous communities in India, Mexico, Italy, and almost every country in Central America.
During the hot summer months, real, conventional corn is grown on stalks of “ears” that come in various hues other than the usual brilliant yellow. Instead, it comes in multiple colors and patterns, including red, pink, black, purple, multicolored, and blue.
Although it is most known for being the main component in tortillas, tacos, and burritos, it is also used to create polenta, flour, cakes, soups, and sauces all over the globe.
One big ear of cooked sweet yellow corn (about 118 grams) comprises roughly:
- Calorie Count: 127
- Carbs: 29.6 grams
- Protein: 3.9 grams
- Fat: 1.5 grams
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Thiamine: 0.3 milligrams (17 percent DV)
- Folate: 54.3 micrograms (14 percent DV)
- Vitamin C: 7.3 milligrams (12 percent DV)
- Niacin: 1.9 milligrams (10 percent DV)
- Pantothenic acid: 1 milligram (10 percent DV)
- Phosphorus: 88.5 milligrams (9 percent DV)
- Manganese: 0.2 milligrams (9 percent DV)
- Magnesium: 30.7 milligrams (8 percent DV)
- Potassium: 250 milligrams (7 percent DV)
- Vitamin A: 310 international units (6 percent DV)
- Riboflavin: 0.1 milligrams (5 percent DV)
- Zinc: 0.7 milligrams (5 percent DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.1 milligrams (4 percent DV)
- Iron content: 0.5 milligrams (3 percent DV)
- Copper: 0.1 gram (3 percent DV)
One big ear also includes vitamin E, vitamin K, choline, calcium, selenium, omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, and vitamin E, vitamin K, choline, calcium, and selenium omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids.
Is Corn a Fruit or a Vegetable?
Although most experts classify it as a vegetable, it’s handled more like a whole grain. Non-GMO whole maize kernels have some remarkable nutrients when consumed in an uncooked and adequately prepared state. Organic maize, for example, is high in vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, as well as other B vitamins. It also contains a significant amount of zeaxanthin and lutein, two antioxidants related to eye and skin health. Fresh corn on the cob also provides an excellent dose of dietary fiber and some complex carbs, which are a healthy source of energy.
Unfortunately, corporations like Monsanto develop GMO crops to thrive in depleted soils that retain fewer nutrients. As a result, if you purchase maize or anything containing it, you should go organic and check for GMO labels. Apart from other issues, the GMO version lacks the same amount of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as the organic form.
Eating fresh, organic corn on the cob is not an issue for most individuals in the United States and most other Western, industrialized countries. Overconsumption of highly processed meals containing numerous chemically modified components produced from this crop, on the other hand, is the problem. The issue is that almost all of the maize sold in typical American supermarkets today is genetically engineered, and it’s sometimes unrecognizable due to the amount of processing it’s undergone.
1. Antioxidant-rich source
Corn is an unexpectedly high-antioxidant food. The varied color variations of maize kernels represent distinct phytonutrient combinations and nutritional benefits. Yellow maize, the most common variety, is exceptionally high in carotenoid antioxidants, notably lutein and zeaxanthin (also found in squash, carrots, and other deeply colored fruits or vegetables). Antioxidants such as anthocyanins, protocatechuic acid, hydroxybenzoic acid, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid are found in other kinds.
Antioxidants known as carotenoid antioxidants, the kind found in the most incredible abundance in corn kernels, are known to boost the immune system and protect the eyes and skin from oxidative stress. Although many antioxidants are heat-sensitive and can be lost during cooking, some research suggests that drying corn slowly at low temperatures, as traditional populations did to preserve the kernels during the colder months, keeps a large portion of the nutritional value of corn, particularly the beneficial antioxidants.
Like other veggies and entire plant meals, it is a food that offers a good amount of satisfying fiber. It has a high insoluble-to-soluble fiber content. This implies it has a variety of digestive-system-friendly properties. Insoluble fiber is the kind that passes through the digestive system without being absorbed or broken down. That’s how it makes it easier for us to go to the restroom. Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, reaches the bottom portion of our large intestines, where intestinal bacteria digest it and convert it to short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). This helps maintain a healthy microbiome and supports your stomach’s “good bacteria”.
SCFAs from high-fiber meals also provide energy to the cells lining our big intestines, which helps maintain the digestive system healthy. In addition, they aid in producing regular bowel motions and removing waste and poisons from our bodies. As a result, SCFAs have been associated with improved intestine cellular activity and, as a result, may help avoid cancers of the digestive organs, such as colon cancer.
3. Carbohydrates that are slowly digested
Corn has a lot of starch, a complex carbohydrate that helps you maintain a constant energy level. Unlike refined carbs, which deplete our energy and leave us feeling hungry for extended periods, meals rich in starch and fiber help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the pace at which glucose (sugar) is released into circulation. In addition, it contains a good amount of protein for a vegetable, in addition to fiber. Because fiber and protein assist in regulating the passage of food through the digestive system and avoid dramatic blood sugar swings, they help us feel fuller longer than carbs alone. Protein meals also offer their own set of advantages. Corn also includes peptides that, according to a 2019 research, have antihypertensive, hepatoprotective, anti-obesity, antibacterial, antioxidative, and mineral-binding properties.
Is it true that corn makes you acquire weight?
Based on what we’ve seen in communities that consume a lot of unprocessed maize, it shouldn’t. It is pretty low in calories while yet delivering nutrients. A giant ear of corn has just approximately 127 calories, making it a nutritious complement to any meal. In reality, this is less than other cereals and is roughly equal to eating a healthy banana, except that maize contains much less sugar and significantly more protein and fiber. When compared to processed carbs like pasta or bread, sweetened baked goods, and gluten-containing grains, there’s generally nothing wrong with otherwise healthy individuals eating organic, non-GMO maize whenever they want.
4. Gluten-Free by Nature
Even though it’s often lumped in with other grains and used in similar ways, this vegetable isn’t a “grain” and doesn’t contain gluten. So what’s the big deal about gluten? Gluten consumption has been related to various unpleasant effects, including bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, tiredness, and skin problems. Corn and cornflour are excellent stand-ins for wheat or other gluten-containing foods since gluten is troublesome for many individuals — even those who don’t have celiac disease or a proven gluten allergy.
5. Longevity and overall health are linked to a portion of traditional diets
Obesity, hypertension, and insulin resistance are on the rise among indigenous populations in North America who have abandoned their traditional diets in favor of a conventional “western diet.” In addition, changes in these populations’ dietary patterns toward consuming more high-calorie foods, sugar, refined grain flour, and sweetened beverages, according to a 2007 report published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, have resulted in far more health risks than their previous diet based primarily on corn, legumes, rice, and vegetables.
Because of the more excellent balance of calories and essential nutrients, researchers think that returning to historic eating patterns may help decrease chronic illness issues. According to the researchers, corn, and legumes, for example, offer anti-diabetic, antioxidant, and anti-hypertension properties. These foods also include protective phenolic phytochemicals that are good for heart health, reversing hypertension as a natural treatment for high blood pressure, and managing blood sugar levels.
Risks and Side Effects
1. If it has been genetically modified
According to reports, approximately 80% of the items in the average American diet include a GMO corn-derived component, and about 88 percent of all maize produced in the United States each year is genetically modified.
If you’re unfamiliar with the facts on GMOs, they’re precisely what their name implies: genetically modified organisms. In the case of GMO maize, the seeds are genetically engineered in a lab before being sown to make them resistant to predators such as weeds, insects, and rodents. Thus, GMOs are designed to produce crops with built-in defensive mechanisms against things that usually harm them.
The following are some of the health risks associated with GMO foods:
- Changes in the gastrointestinal environment
- Antibiotic resistance is more likely.
- Hormonal (endocrine) system function issues
- Obstetrical and gynecological problems
- Symptoms of aging are becoming more prominent.
Mice given three distinct strains of GMO maize had unfavorable responses in their kidneys, livers, other detoxifying organs, according to a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences. In addition, according to the researchers, the GMO seed consumption had significant impacts on their heart function, adrenal glands, spleens, and hematopoietic systems, all of which were thought to be a direct consequence of metabolic alterations caused by the GMO seed intake and indications of “hepatorenal toxicity.”
This popular crop is also used to produce a genetically engineered oil that is a potent inflammatory and prone to become rancid (or “toxic”) when cooked with. In reality, since maize oil contains fragile fatty acids that are easily damaged by heat and light, most of the bottled corn oil on supermarket shelves has already gone bad.
2. In the production of high-fructose corn syrup
Despite what manufacturers may claim, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) isn’t natural and is the farthest thing from healthy. HFCS is a sucrose-free fructose-glucose liquid sweetener (ordinary table sugar). It’s entirely artificial, highly processed, and was initially used in the food and beverage industry in the 1970s as a low-cost sweetener for processed goods.
Even though HFCS does not offer more calories per calorie than regular, organic sugar, it contains more fructose, which has distinct effects on the body and affects metabolic processes differently. It’s unclear if fructose, HFCS, or sucrose are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, or fatty infiltration of the liver or muscle. We know that high-sugar diets of any type increase the risk of poor health, obesity, and various illnesses. Still, several studies have shown that HFCS promotes more significant weight gain than regular white sugar. Studies have also demonstrated HFCS to accelerate tumor development and size, raising concerns about cancer risk.
Believe it or not, sugars account for about 25% of the typical American’s calorie intake today, with fructose accounting for the majority of this, which is often found in packaged sweets and sweetened beverages. Unprocessed natural sweeteners like raw honey, blackstrap molasses, or pure maple syrup are much superior. However, even these natural sweeteners should be taken in moderation and should not account for a significant portion of your daily calorie intake.
3. When It Can Be Found in Other Processed Foods
GMO maize is used to produce a variety of components that are included in packaged and processed meals. Therefore, always read the entire food label to ensure it is safe and devoid of anything you can’t pronounce before purchasing any food product. Also, keep in mind that food producers often alter the contents in packaged goods and the techniques used to prepare them, so even items you wouldn’t think have GMO components may include them.
Citric acid, confectioner’s sugar, cornflour, caramel flavor, corn fructose, cornmeal, corn oil, corn syrup, dextrin and dextrose, fructose, lactic acid, malt, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, monosodium glutamate, and sorbitol are some of the ingredients to look for on package ingredient labels, according to the Live Corn Free website. This is another reason to avoid the grocery store’s “center aisles,” where packaged goods are located, and instead “shop the perimeter,” where natural, whole foods are found.
4. If Your Digestive System Is Sensitive
What are corn’s harmful effects?
Even though it is gluten-free and technically not a grain, this vegetable has the potential to irritate your digestive system and create stomachaches, particularly if you have other common food allergies, FODMAP sensitivities, IBS, or leaky gut syndrome.
What causes your stomach to ache when you eat corn?
This may be the case because of its fiber content and propensity to ferment in the stomach. This fiber-rich meal may be beneficial to your health, but it also includes cellulose, a kind of fiber that people have difficulty breaking down. This occurs because we lack the enzyme required to digest it completely. As a result, while eating certain fibrous foods, some individuals suffer flatulence and another discomfort. One potential solution is to mix, purée, or chew this vegetable for extended periods, allowing it to move more smoothly through the digestive system.
Corn allergies are uncommon, but if you have any symptoms after eating corn (for example, bloating, changes in stool, diarrhea, or gas), the only actual therapy is to avoid it and all of its derivatives as much as possible. To eliminate corn products from your diet, consider replacing pureed fruit or pure fruit juice, raw honey, coconut palm sugar, pure maple syrup, potato starch, rice starch, coconut flour, almond flour, or tapioca for corn products.
How to Choose and Keep
Keep in mind that there is a nutritional difference between “sweet corn” and “field corn” while shopping for corn. Most people consume sweet corn intact, while field corn is typically genetically modified, utilized as animal feed, and used to produce a variety of processed chemical components.
While almost all field corn produced in the United States is genetically modified, most sweet corn is not. According to some estimates, only 3% to 4% of sweet corn grown in the United States each year is genetically modified. So, if you’re searching for a way to boost the nutritional content of corn, sweet is the way to go.
Here are some suggestions for purchasing and preserving good-quality, non-GMO corn:
- Look for green, tight husks that aren’t dried out. The kernels should be firm and filled out, and the ears should feel substantial and spherical.
- Refrigerate the ears firmly wrapped in a plastic bag for up to three days, or freeze them. Do you want to know how to freeze corn on the cob? Blanch the ears for two and a half minutes in boiling water, then drain and shock them in ice-cold water. You may freeze the entire ears or separate the kernels from the cob and store them separately in freezer bags.
- Look for and purchase GMO-free and, preferably, organic foods. Organic foods are prohibited by law from containing more than 5% GMO-derived components.
- When purchasing packaged goods, double-check the ingredients to ensure you know precisely what’s in them.
- All foods containing maize oil should be avoided (or other refined vegetable oils like canola and safflower are also likely GMO).
- Avoid items that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
- Ask about the quality of the maize at your local farmers’ market.
- Consider producing your own (with non-GMO seeds!) to ensure you’re eating the freshest, highest-quality produce possible.
How to Prepare and Use
Microwaving, grilling, roasting, and boiling corn on the cob are all options for cooking this vegetable.
Is it okay to eat maize uncooked, or will it make you sick?
Raw maize is generally safe to consume, although it may be difficult to digest for specific individuals. Cooking corn on the cob increases your body’s absorption of ferulic acid, a beneficial component found in it, which is why it’s recommended.
Pull the silky threads from the husk and trim out any imperfections with a knife before cooking. Also, approximately a half-inch of the vegetable’s top tip should be removed.
How long does it take to cook corn on the cob?
Fill a big saucepan with water to approximately three-quarters of capacity. Bring to a boil, add the corn ears, cover, turn off the heat, and let them simmer for about 10 minutes before draining the water. Some individuals prefer to season the boiling water with salt or lemon juice. You may add butter, sea salt, spices, and other ingredients once the ears have finished cooking.
How to cook corn on the cob in the microwave:
Microwave the ears for three to four minutes on a microwave-safe dish before cooling.
How to cook corn on the cob on the grill:
Place the husked ears on the grill, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes. You may remove the husks after grilling or wrap husked ears before grilling if you want.
- Even though maize is one of the most commonly eaten crops on the planet, many people are unaware of its advantages and disadvantages.
- Corn that is organic and non-GMO may be part of a balanced and nutritious diet, but the same cannot be accurate for GMO and processed derivative components.
- It may offer antioxidants, fiber, low-releasing starch, and even some protein, among other things. It’s also gluten-free and, unlike cereals, unlikely to trigger allergic responses.
- Insoluble fibers like those found in this vegetable may create problems for specific individuals, especially those with SIBO or IBS, since they may not make it to the colon where they are supposed to ferment.
- How can you tell whether you’re eating the non-GMO version? Avoiding any item produced with GMO components may be difficult without appropriate labeling. Therefore the goal is to consume whole-natural foods and avoid packaged meals as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Question
What are the benefits of eating boiled corn?
A: Boiled corn is an excellent source of carbohydrates. In addition, it has a low glycemic index, meaning it does not cause blood sugar spikes and insulin reactions.
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